Category: book review

WHAT WE SET IN MOTION: Delightful Debut

WHAT WE SET IN MOTION: Delightful Debut

What We Set in Motion (March 2016) is the award-winning debut novel by former dancer Stephanie Austin Edwards. This coming-of-age novel is a delightful read about a young woman named Nadine Carter Barnwell who braves the unknown to follow her dancing dreams, despite her father’s objections and her personal misgivings. Initially set in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, I was first struck by the beautiful scenery. A resident of South Carolina, Edwards knows her setting and describes it well. Written… Read more »

One of My Favorite Books of 2016

One of My Favorite Books of 2016

The cleverly titled Spill Simmer Falter Wither (March 2016) by Sara Baume is already one of my favorite books of 2016. Quiet, intense books appeal to me, particularly when the language is so gorgeously evocative that I need to stop and reread sentences just for the pleasure of their sound. A troubled man adopts a one-eyed dog, a good ratter he hopes, as there are rats in his attic. Ray lives a frightened life and though he is now middle-aged,… Read more »

Reviewer Critiques Strout’s New Novel

Reviewer Critiques Strout’s New Novel

Known for her blockbuster hit Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout’s new novel, My Name is Lucy Barton (January 2016), a slender volume of 191 pages, is a playbook for compression and concision. It’s full of perfect sentences and wise observations, the work of a brilliant novelist attempting to probe beneath the places where mere language usually takes us, into the wordless heart of a mother-daughter bond. Its eponymous narrator recounts a time ‘many years ago’ when she was hospitalized for nine weeks… Read more »

PREPUB Alert: Discover Great New Writers Spring Title

PREPUB Alert: Discover Great New Writers Spring Title

I love a good family story. Throw in some dysfunction and I’m there! Reading the synopsis for Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s debut, The Nest (March 2016), I knew this was a book for me. The novel opens at a wedding where, in a drug-induced stupor, Leo Plumb leaves behind his wife Victoria and takes a waitress named Matilda with him into his car. There was a crash. Then the story fast forwards to more than a year later to the fallout… Read more »

Talented New Voice in Literary Fiction

Talented New Voice in Literary Fiction

At first glance We Love You, Charlie Freeman (March 2016) is a coming-of-age story about a family hired to live with a chimpanzee as part of a language experiment, but behind it is the disturbing story of race relations in America. Parts of this novel were difficult to read. The scientific interpretation of race relations brought back memories of reading Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man in college. Race, history, ethics, and sexuality are some of the topics explored… Read more »