Friday, July 22, 2016

Modern Lovers - Book Review

Published May 2016
Modern Lovers - Emma Straub A-

In the 1980s, Andrew, Elizabeth, Zoe and Lydia were in a moderately successful rock band called Kitty's Mustache. Now, over two decades later they are all having a mid-life crisis, except for Lydia. Lydia, the most notable member of Kitty's Mustache, died at age 27 (infamously joining Cobain, Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, and others as part of the 27 Club) after a short but successful solo career.
Andrew and Elizabeth married and had a son, Harry. They live a normal upper middle class life a few doors down from Zoe, Zoe's wife Jane, and their daughter Ruby. The novel starts off fairly typical, but things quickly heat up when the news of a Hollywood bio-pic (think Ray or Walk the Line) about Lydia's life is destined for the big screen. Revisiting Lydia's past means revisiting past secrets and desires. There's also an entertaining side plot about young love affair. Essentially, Modern Lovers is a cool summer novel about the angst of falling in and out of love. It is better and more serious than the lighthearted book cover would have you believe.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Girls - Book Review

Published June 2016
The Girls - Emma Cline A-

The Girls is a riveting and alluring debut novel. Loosely based on the Manson murders, Cline explores the vulnerability and angst of 14-year-old Evie Boyd (via the narration of her now middle-aged self). The predominant story is about young Evie and her entanglement with a murderous clan of outliers during the late 1960s. That part of the novel is heartbreaking because many of us will recognize the teenage naiveté and desperate longing to belong. The other part of the novel is about middle-aged Evie. She is still drifting, but with a greater sense of responsibility and foresight. The older Evie is lonely and quietly haunted by her past. However, this novel is not about older Evie, it is about her youth. Then again, isn't it always about youth and how we survive (or don't survive) it?

Monday, July 11, 2016

This is How You Lose Her - Book Review

Published September 2012
This is How You Lose Her - Junot Diaz A-

Junot Diaz is the Michael Jordan of literature, he can't miss. This is How You Lose Her is his second story collection and nearly each story is a slam dunk. Only one of the nine narratives, "Otravida, Otravez" is from the perspective of a woman. Coincidently, that was the only story that didn't completely resonate with me. Otherwise, this is a stellar examination of dyslexic hearts. Bravo!

*The book was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction in 2012.