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QuintusMarcus

QuintusMarcus

Joined June 2016

“Outside of a dog, books are a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.“ Marx (Groucho)
blurb
QuintusMarcus
The Testaments: A Novel | Margaret Atwood
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First editions! Can‘t wait to start Testaments, but I have to finish Ducks, Newburyport first!

Christine Very cool! 1w
batsy I love the look of the first ed of The Handmaid's Tale 👌🏽 1w
QuintusMarcus Good example of the difference in graphic arts values between 30 years ago and now! 1w
17 likes3 comments
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QuintusMarcus
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Pickpick

Loving my new Kindle Oasis! Just arrived Friday and now packed with books. You wouldn‘t think the little upgrades (page turn buttons, adjustable light) would make a big difference, but they do. Really love the more ergonomic design: much easier to hold than the Paperwhite.

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QuintusMarcus
Wanderers: A Novel | Chuck Wendig
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Mehso-so

Another apocalypse novel, heavily influenced by Steven King‘s Stand. Good story, deeply anti-Trumpist, which I appreciate, but Wendig does go a bit overboard with the politics (which is what got him booted from writing that Star Wars comic). Awfully long, though—not that I mind long books, but some judicious editing could tightened this up.

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QuintusMarcus
Fleishman Is in Trouble: A Novel | Taffy Brodesser-Akner
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Pickpick

Tough book to read: there's really not a lot of enjoyment to be had from reading about a miserable marriage going down in flames. The enjoyment comes from the author's brilliant build up of the narrative, and her final ingenious solution. A lot has been made in the press about the humor of the book--there are some sharply funny moments, but overall I don't find raunch to be a good substitute for wit. Still, a very good novel and worth reading.

9 likes1 stack add
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QuintusMarcus
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Pickpick

Truly superb novel, about as close to perfection as I think you can get. This is a genuinely moving and creative family story that is somehow resonant with every great family novel I've ever read. The family of the story is a lovely creation, and the author's special and unique skill is the ability to portray characters ranging from 5 to 85 with perfect accuracy and depth. The author's style is rich and allusive without being abstruse or quirky.

5 likes2 stack adds
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QuintusMarcus
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Pickpick

Absolutely loved this collection: it's timely, thoughtful, and full of creative thinking. I was hooked from the very first story, about a bookstore that straddles the line between a literally divided America, and the owner who tries to coexist between the two sides.

QuintusMarcus I was not surprised by stories that revolved around survival of political or environmental catastrophe: what did surprise me was the number of stories that imagined a future of brutal hostility to those of non-conforming genders or lifestyles. Excellent collection of stories, highly recommended! 5mo
8 likes1 stack add1 comment
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QuintusMarcus
Normal People | Sally Rooney
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Panpan

Well, here I am with a nice big bucket of Easter bile to pour all over Sally Rooney's Normal People. What a sad, tiresome, and banal story. These utterly static characters excel at making themselves and those around them miserable, seemingly without either the desire or the ability to inquire as to why.

QuintusMarcus I have a better relationship with my dog than these self-absorbed whiners have with each other. I've never before seen such profoundly un-self aware characters as the simpering idiots in this novel. If this is truly an accurate representation of Milennial relationships, then I feel sorry for that loser generation.
5mo
Kleonard Oh bummer. I was excited to read this one. 5mo
6 likes1 stack add2 comments
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QuintusMarcus
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Bailedbailed

Obscenely, insanely violent book, largely without value. Some colorful writing, but a completely incomprehensible narrative. Complete waste of time and effort, trying to read this book--I'm sorry I spent so much time vainly trying to justify it.

mdhughes72 I felt the exact same about 7mo
QuintusMarcus What is wrong with this author? Clearly creative, a fantastic vision, but ruined by his sickening fascination with catastrophic sex and violence. A depraved mind, if you ask me. 7mo
ValerieAndBooks Yikes 😱! They seem to downplay that aspect in all the recent articles (hype?) about him. 7mo
QuintusMarcus What really irritated me was that Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times gave the book a glowing review, and she is a tough critic. Apparently it didn't bother her that the book was completely incoherent. 7mo
ReadingOver50 Love your review 7mo
9 likes5 comments
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QuintusMarcus
The Word Pretty | Elisa Gabbert
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Pickpick

This book is a record of a very thoughtful and articulate reader. No huge theory of literature here, just a collection of notes and thoughts on her personal reading, and her experience of writing. The author notes, "I'm a promiscuous and impatient reader..." and that's half the fun of the book--her essays are all over the place, discussing dreams, translation, writing, and poetry.

QuintusMarcus She writes, "The greatest lines in poetry are infinitely quotable while having no definite meaning...to read poetry, one must have a mind of poetry." Written in a familiar style, these essays are fascinating and a great pleasure to read.
7mo
4 likes1 comment
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QuintusMarcus
Killing Commendatore | Haruki Murakami
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Pickpick

After his last two boring books, I'm glad to see Murakami return to his famous flights of fancy. Killing Commendatore is classic Murakami, with a nearly affectless hero, mysterious collaborators, spirits, and most important, dark and mysterious holes in the ground. Murakami also tipped his hand to what I think must be one of his sources--Ueda Akinari's Tales of Moonlight and Rain, an 18th century collection of supernatural stories. Loved it!

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Pickpick

Loved this book: the framework of the novel is an entry for every day in the life of German emigre Gesine Cresspahl and her daughter Marie, summer of 1967-1968. Most days start with a summary of highlights from the New York Times, but then veer off into the story of Gesine's life growing up in Nazi Germany, surviving the war and subsequent Soviet occupation. Utterly gripping despite the 1600 page length.

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QuintusMarcus
The Order of the Day | ric Vuillard
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Pickpick

Absolutely brilliant novel. Vuillard picks up the Anschluss with tongs, and oh so carefully, with Gallic wit and precision, dissects the event minute by minute. The novel is utterly gripping, revealing, and ultimately, brutally disheartening: the story begins and ends with an examination of the German business leaders (Krupp, Siemens, Opel, etc., all well known modern enterprises) who facilitated the Nazis and walked away unharmed.

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Pickpick

I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. Having read a couple books recently that were real downers, I wasn't sure I could take one more. But the author's prose is so deadpan amusing, it's hard not to laugh at even the sadder episodes. I was also surprised by the tight thematic coherence - friendship, withdrawal, and loss are held carefully in balance, and the result is a truly satisfying novel. Definitely recommended!

Alfoster Great review! I‘m sold!👏👏👏 12mo
britt_brooke Nice review! 12mo
9 likes1 stack add2 comments
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QuintusMarcus
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Mehso-so

Honestly, no need to read this: all the best stuff was reported on the week before the book came out. All completely horrifying, to be sure, but at the end of the day, so what? What are we going to do about it?

LMJenkins Vote! ✔️ 12mo
4 likes1 comment
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QuintusMarcus
The Fall of Gondolin | J. R. R. Tolkien
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Bailedbailed

Well, I tried on this one, but to no avail: the book is truly unreadable. A series of stitched-together fragments can't be expected to have any kind of narrative coherence, I get that. But this early attempt of Tolkien to master the Anglo-Saxon heroic style is tedious at best - about five minutes of it was about all I could stand. Really, this is best for Tolkien scholars, so skip it, unless you're looking for a dissertation topic.

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Pickpick

Severance is totally successful on multiple dimensions - at first I wasn't sure if it was all going to cohere, but the author does ultimately pull everything together. A Chinese-American girl's coming of age, life in the modern publishing biz, and an Apocalypse story are all stitched together with some lovely writing about New York. One of the best and most affecting novels I've read all year - I strongly recommend this one!

sisilia Sounds interesting. Stacked! 13mo
9 likes1 comment
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QuintusMarcus
The Pisces: A Novel | Melissa Broder
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Panpan

Breathtakingly filthy book that I cannot recommend to anyone. Although there are great flashes of intelligence, humor, and insight, the book is clearly the product of a diseased mind.

britt_brooke Best review I‘ve seen today. 😆 Love your honesty. 13mo
sisilia Breathtakingly filthy 😹 13mo
10 likes1 stack add2 comments
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QuintusMarcus
Just Above My Head | James Baldwin
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Pickpick

So many novels that are written now are so incredibly narcissistic, that Baldwin‘s wide-ranging novel is a breath of fresh air. The story is a family epic of a sort that seems uncommon nowadays: Hall Montana tells the story of his brother Arthur, a famed gospel singer, and the stories of their friends and family. Homosexuality and racism are intertwined with Baldwin‘s signature meditations on the state of culture. Long, complex masterpiece.

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Pickpick

Brilliant collection of poems, all harshly critical of the political and cultural here and now. Fiercely anti-Trump: "America, you just wanted change is all, a return /To the kind of awe experienced after beholding a reign /Of gold. A leader whose metallic narcissism is a reflection /Of your own..." Hayes critiques Trump, approaching Spike Lee's Agent Orange: "Are you not the color of this country‘s current threat Advisory?" Exquisite.

vivastory I love Terrance Hayes. 13mo
QuintusMarcus @vivastory I had never heard of him - saw a great review, read the book and just loved it. 13mo
vivastory I haven't read this one yet, but I loved his other collections. 13mo
7 likes3 comments
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QuintusMarcus
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Pickpick

Very fun book! Loved the contrast between the characters of Thrawn and Anakin/Darth Vader in the different threads of the story. The action takes place between movie episodes 3 and 4, and before Thrawn is sucked into the vortex in the last episode of Rebels. Thrawn will surely be back - I'd love to see him make it to the big screen. Of all the Star Wars novels and stories, I think Zahn's are the best written. Highly recommended for fans.

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QuintusMarcus
Early Work: A Novel | Andrew Martin
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Mehso-so

Nasty little book featuring utterly repellent characters. Engagingly written, I guess, but the moral vacuity of the book is a bit wearying. Also didn't appreciate the author name-dropping a lot of titles to lend a veneer of literacy - nice try, chump.

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QuintusMarcus
The Professor and the Siren | Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa
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Pickpick

@vivastory mentioned The Leopard, so I wanted to give a shout-out to the collection of Lampedusa's short works published by NYR books. The title story, The Professor and the Siren, is absolutely stunning: gorgeous, sensual, and shocking. Highly recommended!

vivastory I will definitely be checking this out. Plus it's a NYRB! 1y
6 likes1 comment
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QuintusMarcus
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Panpan

I don't know what my problem is these days: I seem to be in a hating-everything-I-read frame of mind. I found these stories to be unbearably shallow and silly. I used to think Helen DeWitt was brilliant, now I think she's an idiot. I think that recent Paris Review profile put me off her - she sounded disorganized, disheveled, and incompetent.

shawnmooney But how do you REALLY feel? 🤣🤣 1y
QuintusMarcus Good point. I hated it. I should learn to stop mincing words. 1y
6 likes2 comments
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QuintusMarcus
Transit: A Novel | Rachel Cusk
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Mehso-so

Don't get me wrong, I surely appreciate all the fine writerly qualities of this book, but OMG what a crashing bore. So many dreary vignettes, one after another, made mining the many verbal nuggets a miserable task. I guess I'm glad I read the book - Cusk's storytelling is innovative, but there was nothing pleasurable about it. Kind of like innovative mucilage - glad it's there, but not exactly a source of delight.

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Pickpick

I know the movie didn't do well, but I loved it, and I loved this novel, too. Fast-paced, straightforward entertainment - what else are Star Wars fans looking for, Dostoevsky? Those looking for profound depth, well-developed characters, and abundant meaning are advised to pick up something else - if you're just after Star Wars fun, this does quite nicely.

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QuintusMarcus
Convenience Store Woman | Sayaka Murata
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Pickpick

An absolutely nutty and weirdly engaging little novel. This is the first English translation for this author, who has won multiple Japanese literary awards. You wouldn't think the experiences of an off-the-wall convenience store clerk would be so engrossing, but I couldn't put the book down.

BarbaraBB Sounds great. And I am a sucker for Japanese fiction. Stacked! 1y
Briget66 Sounds like it‘s right up my alley!! 1y
9 likes3 stack adds2 comments
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QuintusMarcus
Social Creature: A Novel | Tara Isabella Burton
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Pickpick

Brilliant novel, great story about which I can't say too much without spoilers. Let's just say you'll never feel the same way about social media again.

6 likes2 stack adds
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QuintusMarcus
Motherhood | Sheila Heti
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Pickpick

In this brilliant meditation on the costs of childbearing, particularly to artists, Heti relates her struggle to decide whether or not to have children. The book is called a novel, but I have to assume reflects the author's own agonizing. While some women will empathize with her uncertain back and forth, I could see others being irritated by her frequent expressions of outright contempt for her friends who did have children.

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Pickpick

Remarkable book: the story of Cudjo Lewis, the last surviving African brought over on the last slave ship, as told to Zora Neale Hurston. What's most interesting is the longest passage in the book, in which Cudjo describes his life in Africa before his village was destroyed by the Dahomey tribe that kidnapped him.

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QuintusMarcus
Handmaid's Tale | Margaret Atwood
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Pickpick

This is the first time I've re-read Handmaid's Tale, after having first read it when it was first published over 30 years ago. I had forgotten what an incredibly subtle book it is, a characteristic completely buried by the ghastly perversion of the novel now in its second season on Hulu. The video adaptation dwells lovingly on scenes of appalling violence in a way that only diminishes and narrows the novel.

Alfoster Great review! Always loved it! 1y
11 likes1 comment
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QuintusMarcus
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Pickpick

Fun book: not the best of the Star Wars novels I've recently read, but still fun. The whole bit about Lando's cape closet on the Millennium Falcon is hilarious, and I'm assuming that will be in the movie. Definitely recommended for die-hard Star Wars fans.

6 likes1 stack add
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QuintusMarcus
King Zeno: A Novel | Nathaniel Rich
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Pickpick

King Zeno was just plain old fun. New Orleans, 1919, ax murderer, jazz, Spanish flu, etc. The author has previously written a study of film noir, and you can tell--final scene in particular could have come right out of a classic noir flick. Not a masterpiece of literature, just a fun story.

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QuintusMarcus
Female Persuasion | Meg Wolitzer
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Mehso-so

I don't know if I'm insensitive, or just missing something, or what, but this novel didn't quite click for me. The character of Faith Frank, an older feminist leader, just seemed incredibly fake. For some reason, the novel just didn't seem genuine to me, as if the author was "putting on" feminism to create the novel, but didn't really feel or experience it. I could be totally wrong, but that's how it came off to me.

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Back Talk: Stories | Danielle Lazarin
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Pickpick

I just loved this collection of short stories! The author has a very fine eye for detail, and is also deeply sensitive to her characters' different experiences - she portrays them very clearly and thoughtfully. Highly recommended: this is a deeply thoughtful and very enjoyable book.

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Pickpick

Powerful and profoundly disturbing book. I just don't think there's any way to truly quantify the suffering and torments of African-Americans in this country.

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Asymmetry | Lisa Halliday
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Mehso-so

Good enough writing, but I just couldn't help but find the main story unappealing. What purpose is served by a story of a romance between an older successful writer and a very young editorial assistant, I'm just not sure. There's somewhat more to the book than that, but the whole thing just left an unpleasant taste in my mouth. Not a bad book, and I might even come back to it for another look, but I can't say I loved it. Other opinions, please!

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Bailedbailed

I really hate to bail on a book, but I just was not connecting with the characters at all. The Nanny of the title doesn't come across as a fully realized character. If someone told me I was really missing something and should try again, I would. Until then, I'm putting this one down and moving on.

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Pickpick

Really, no surprises here: every member of this hell-spawned administration is exemplary of the very worst that humanity can produce. The willful and bottomless ignorance of Trump, his family, and his vile apparatchiks can scarcely be comprehended. We are probably all doomed.

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QuintusMarcus
Keeping On Keeping On | Alan Bennett
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Pickpick

First book down of the new year! Ok, true, I was sandbagging a little - saved the last few pages for today. I loved reading his diary excerpts in the London Review of Books - it got to a point where that was the only part I was reading. Mostly details of his daily life: travels, irritations, political commentaries, and observations. Clear-eyed, thoughtful, and very worth reading.

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Done Thing | Tracy Manaster
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Pickpick

It's a done thing! Crushed my 2017 Goodreads goal of 67 books! On to 2018 - Happy New Year!

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Pickpick

This one was actually quite charming. Strong connection to the Last Jedi, as Holdo is a major character in this book, and there is an interesting scene on Crait. Definitely recommended to fans old and new, especially if you enjoyed the new movie, Last Jedi.

4 likes2 stack adds
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QuintusMarcus
From a Certain Point of View (Star Wars) | Meg Cabot, Nnedi Okorafor, Rene Ahdieh, Sabaa Tahir, John Jackson Miller
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Mehso-so

A very mixed bag of short stories, a few excellent, a few terrible, most kind of so-so. All based on the original movies (Episodes 4, 5, and 6 in modern parlance), some providing back story, scene extensions, or filling out minor characters. Some stories are played for laughs, others a bit grim. Recommended only to true fanatics, who will sop it all up.

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QuintusMarcus
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Panpan

This was actually quite terrible, very disappointing. Some really drab and long-winded stories that just did not relate very well to the larger Star Wars universe. Skip this one.

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Pickpick

This Thanksgiving, I am particularly grateful for Little Fires Everywhere, a beautifully written and thoughtful novel about motherhood. I learned a lot from the cast of very different mothers: their choices, their challenges with identity, and their compromises. Superb book, highly recommended!

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QuintusMarcus
Manhattan Beach: A Novel | Jennifer Egan
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Mehso-so

A good book, well-crafted and nicely written, but is it a great book? Nope, I'm afraid not. I'm sorry to say that, because I know (from the recent New Yorker profile) that the author put a lot of research and a lot of work into this novel. The result is an enjoyable novel, but I am always hoping for something more.

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Pickpick

The Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957) lived a long, productive, and successful life, and Harvey Sachs seems to catch every minute. From Toscanini's first successes at La Scala to his late-life triumph with the NBC Symphony Orchestra, every detail of the conductor's life is captured. Much of Sachs‘ work is based on Toscanini‘s letters, which Sachs edited and published some years ago.

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Melville: A Novel | Jean Giono
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Mehso-so

Very quirky little novel that revolves around Melville's visit to London to sell his novel White Jacket. Giono was the French translator of Moby Dick, and Melville started out as a rather hybrid personal essay about Melville that turned into a novel. Lost me in the middle section, a wholly fabricated story about some Irish nationalist. Required reading for any Melville fanatic, but no reason for anyone else to even look at it.

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Pickpick

Absolutely loved this book. Solid sci-fi, great pacing, rich character development, at least for Phasma. Could easily see some of this content being used in future movies or an animated series. I think it's really interesting how the Star Wars story group is enabling the building out of some of these ancillary characters.

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Pickpick

Stunning book - the author traces the history of "white trash" from colonial origins to modern icons. I had no idea there was such a history, and that the export of undesirables to America was a deliberate and carefully theorized strategy. The offscourings, the human waste of England, were meant to fertilize the rich new land. Brilliant history.

5 likes1 stack add
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QuintusMarcus
Class | Francesco Pacifico
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Panpan

Vile characters, incoherent plot, truly unpleasant. Maybe you have to be Italian to follow whatever the author is getting at. Not recommended.