Rating:A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki. Penguin Books (2013), 432 pages.
Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being was a finalist for the 2013 Booker prize. It has been praised in over thirty reviews from major newspapers and magazines as “masterful,” “exquisite,” “dazzling,” “harrowing,” etc. Readers who regularly scan the blurbs in the front pages of a paperback know not to take this sort of adulation seriously though. Lavishly extravagant adjectives have become so de rigueur in publishing that they are essentially meaningless.
Rating:Stargazing Dog, by Takashi Murakami. NBM Publishing (2011), 128 pages.
Stargazing Dog was first published in Japan in 2008, where it has sold over a half million copies. It’s a relatively short graphic novel that should take about a half hour to read, except that I had to take numerous breaks from reading to cry. Do not read this in a public setting.
Rating:The Murder of the Century, by Paul Collins. Broadway Paperbacks (2011), 325 pages.
Nostalgia for the past, this book reminds me, is almost always for an imagined past. When I think of how publishing and news “used to be,” I imagine somber, serious, reliable news.
Rating:Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. Crown (2012), 419 pages.
Flynn is a writer in the mystery and crime genres—two categories I almost never read. Her latest book, however, was described as a psychological portrait of a marriage—a plot I almost always want to read if it is done well. The usual superlatives: “brilliant,”
Dog Boy, by Eva Hornung. Viking (2010), 288 pages.
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, by Helen Simonson. Random House (2011), 353 pages.
Rating:Time to toss your copy of Zeitoun in your curbside recycling bin; it can land on top of Three Cups of Tea in the corner of the bin reserved for books that don’t even deserve donation to a library because they turned out to be dishonest accounts narrated by shysters
Rating:Citrus County, by John Brandon. McSweeney’s (2011), 216 pages.
Reviewed by Donna
I happened to read this book immediately following The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, although they were published two years apart. They are interestingly similar: both are psychological suspense, both are told from the point of view of middle schoolers, and both are creepy as hell in similar ways.
Rating:The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey. Little, Brown and Company (2012), 386 pages.
Easily the best book I’ve read in the last fourteen months. It has everything: Russian fairy tales, pioneer homesteaders, a lost child, a red fox, Alaskan wilderness, an orphan, and lots of snow and ice.
Rating:The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, by Helen Grant. Penguin (2009), 304 pages.
Back-cover reviews describe this as “atmospheric” and a “modern fairy tale,” words that fail to convey that the last quarter of the book is actually a bona fide horror story. True, there are many enjoyable “atmospheric” elements: