Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Book Review - "The Hand That First Held Mine"

"The Hand That First Held Mine" by Maggie O'Farrell
My grade: B

This novel is definitely chick lit, with the concept of motherhood at its core. It's a decent story, although badly written at times, and ultimately, not very believable. Firstly, what is meant to be a twist at the end isn't much of one; the reader sees it coming. Secondly, the whole thing is about three notches too farfetched. And finally, O'Farrell didn't succeed in evoking the England of the 1950s and 60s, the setting of one side of the book.

There are some nice moments of the novel, though. And at some points, she really seems to capture the essence of motherhood beautifully, but loses the moment soon after. It would be interesting to see some of her writing in ten years or so.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Book Review - "The Collected Stories"

"The Collected Stories" by Grace Paley
My grade: B

To begin with, I'd like to say that I didn't finish this collection; I simply couldn't! Not because the writing is bad, though. In fact, I found the stories to be written really well, and I do like Paley's style. But, mostly I found the stories to be completely outdated. I couldn't relate to them at all. As opposed to long-length novels, which can reinvent a world and give you their own confines of it, short stories either have to work with a world that people know or (very) briefly define the world. As Paley doesn't do much definition, my guess is that she wrote in a very different time and place. Her world and her struggles are, at least partially, lost on me.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Book Review - "invisible"

"invisible" by Paul Auster
My grade: A-

I have to say, this novel started out for me much more promising than it ended (although I'm not entirely disappointed). The writing is superb in itself, but the voice remains the same throughout, even though there are several narrators. For this reason, together with too much telling and not enough showing, the characters don't fully come to life.

The ending, for me, leaves much too many questions in the air and suddenly introduces new twists in a novel that is, technically, not a mystery. There is also quite a large piece about incestuous love, which to be honest, was harder to swallow than Naboko'v "Lolita". And it remains unclear to me what purpose it really served. Finally, I'm not really sure what the title is really referring to, as invisibility doesn't play a central role in this novel; unless, I missed something big.

Despite having said all of that, it was still a good read with a well-developed plot. It reads very fast, and left me thinking about how the story would develop. I will definitely read more books from Auster.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Book Review - "The Forest for the Trees"

"The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers" by Betsy Lerner
My grade: A

If you're a writer or an aspiring writer, you should read this book. I found it mostly excellent! It provides a lot of insight into the world of books, writing and publishing. It is written by an editor-turned-agent, as opposed to a writer, which provides a different perspective. It answered a lot of questions for me regarding publishing and the process of it. Lerner also brings up a lot of books and authors, and offers interesting quips from their lives/publishing experiences.