CategoryReading

THE BOOK OF UNKNOWN AMERICANS vs. AMERICAN DIRT

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I read AMERICAN DIRT and while I appreciated the author’s efforts and her skill at writing a thriller, I was also conflicted by the lack of authenticity I felt about the novel — even before the controversy exploded. I wrote a review (3 of 5 stars) and then another post about appropriation. I got caught up in the protests over Jeanine Cummins’ novel, mostly by Latino writers, who...

SOMETHING IN THE WATER, Catherine Steadman

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There’s a lot to admire about Catherine Steadman’s psychological thriller, Something in the Water. First off, that’s a great title. Honeymooning couple Erin and Mark find a bag of money and diamonds floating in the water off the coast of Bora Bora. Guess what? They decide to keep it. The “finding a bunch of money and deciding, against your better judgment, to keep...

Appropriation and AMERICAN DIRT

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The fervor over AMERICAN DIRT continues to flame on. I wrote an early review of the novel, which I enjoyed, but found problematic, and then I came across this takedown by the writer Myriam Gurba, who scorched both the book and its author, Jeanine Cummins. Here’s a quote from Gurba’s review: Cummins plops overly-ripe Mexican stereotypes, among them the Latin lover, the suffering...

A Manly Duo: 1917 the Movie; and REVENANT, the Novel

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Mostly by coincidence, this week I read a novel and watched a film, both of them by men, about men, and for men. There is a lot of traditional masculinity on display in these stories. They are about courageous men driven by a singular mission, battling external forces. I missed Michael Punke’s The Revenant when it was published in 2002, and passed on the Leonardo DiCaprio film by the same...

NORMAL PEOPLE, Sally Rooney

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After several people whose opinions I respect said they found NORMAL PEOPLE “okay” and “pretty good,” I started the novel with low expectations. But I found the book much more than just okay or pretty good. Sally Rooney is a talented young writer. Where most of her talent resides is in the writing itself, as opposed to character motivation, plot, pacing or other elements...

AMERICAN DIRT, Jeanine Cummins

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I managed to get my hands on an advance reader copy (ARC) of AMERICAN DIRT, by Jeanine Cummins, a novel that has received a lot of hype and seems destined to become a best seller based on early reviews and reader enthusiasm. Plenty of five-star ratings on Goodreads. Don Winslow calling it a GRAPES OF WRATH for our times. The novel is a story of chase and escape. Lydia and her eight-year-old son...

THE TENNIS PARTNER, Adam Verghese

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Someone left this memoir in my Little Free Library and I snatched it up because the title included the word ‘tennis’. I like tennis. I play, I watch, I read about it. This compassionate and thoughtful book is not about tennis. It’s about a friendship between two men: Adam Verghese, a physician whose marriage has fallen apart, and David Smith, a medical student recovering from...

Which One is Better–the Book or the Movie?

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The dictum says the book is always better than the movie. Consider: you read a great novel, get absorbed in the fictional world, accompany the characters on their journeys. Your imagination creates every face, pictures every scene. You lose yourself for pages and pages. You loved the book. You hate the movie. Or, at best, the movie is okay. They did a pretty good job repurposing this incredible...

I’m the Curator of a Little Free Library

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A perfect autumn day for the library. Harriet gave me the idea to sponsor a Little Free Library. She seems to know when I need a project to focus on, and this one fit me well: I’m an author, an avid reader, and we have many full bookshelves in our house—books as furniture, we call that. I have just enough skill and an assortment of tools to believe I could design and build my own library rather...

ON EARTH WE’RE BRIEFLY GORGEOUS, Ocean Vuong

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Maybe it’s time for bookstores to devote shelf space to a growing genre: Autofiction. As the name implies, autofiction is autobiographical fiction, starring the author, often written in the first-person point of view. There are many examples: Karl Ove Knausgaard’s epic account of his life, “My Struggle.” Rachel Kusk’s triology whose protagonist is a novelist. Edward St Aubyn’s Patrick...

THE CHAIN, Adrian Mckinty

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I tell myself to stop reading thrillers, because I find them all the same, but I keep hoping to come across one that I find brilliant. When I heard about The Chain, I thought this one might be different. Adrian McKinty, author of the Michael Forsythe trilogy and the Sean Duffy series of crime novels, goes for the throat with this thriller. The premise of The Chain, inspired by those old chain...

David Klein

Published novelist, creative writer, avid reader, discriminating screen watcher.

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