Five Sentence Book Reviews, Numero Uno

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

I loved every word of this book, or at least, I loved most of them and enjoyed thinking about the rest. There were so many allusions to things I was glad to find that someone had created this list so that I can refer to and continue to understand references. The whole time I read, I kept thinking, I’m never going to be able to get rid of this copy, I will have to have it so I can check off each reference as I go. Particular high points for me were discussion of Sweet Valley High, Roxane’s interest in Scrabble, her astute observations about Holden Caulfield (i.e. they’re same as mine; he’s a little whingy bitch), oh and the entire essay about “likability.” There were many sentences in this book that I was just blow away by — Gay’s writing displays wisdom, brevity, beauty, and self-awareness.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

The idea behind this book is a little gimmicky and, because it’s never outright explained, it takes the reader a minute (or twenty) to catch on. As a fellow member of my book club pointed out, there are real problems with the metaphysics here — [SPOILER] does Ursula have control over her next version of life? Does she choose to die with the knowledge that she can come back and fix things? Atkinson doesn’t give us answers to these questions, she doesn’t even acknowledge them, but she does give us likable (sorry, Roxane), multi-faceted, interesting characters. The Todd family was my favorite thing about this book, and considering it’s entirely about them, I’d say it’s a recommendation for the intro to them alone.

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

This book is super sexy, but not as sexy as Waters’ subsequent work Fingersmith. There was something shallow about the relationship between Nan and Kitty; maybe it’s that I never liked Kitty much, and when she messes up, as all humans do, I wasn’t at all surprised. I do have a soft spot for historical fiction, however, and this book satisfies the part of me that loves a rich, detailed setting. I feel very “meh” about it in retrospect, but now I’m itching to re-read Fingersmith and relish in all the improvements Waters made between writing the two. I’m probably being unnecessarily harsh when you consider that I stayed up until 3 a.m. to finish this (fairly large) book in one sitting.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

I feel grateful to this book and to Gaiman because I hadn’t completed a book in over a year when I sat down with this one on the train from Paris to Clermont-Ferrand. Ocean is all the things I love about Gaiman’s work in general: transporting, fanciful but not overly so, and absolutely A Story. This one is perhaps more of a fairy tale, of the Grimm variety that’s light enough to read to a child but will seem much darker when they’re older and reading it to themselves. The story winds up in a non-sentimental manner, the kind of ending that makes you think, Magical things like this could be happening all around, and we’d never even know. Who doesn’t want to live in a world like that?

No offense to Mr. Gaiman, and all respects given for getting me back into reading, but I’ll be reading almost exclusively women authors for the remainder of the year. I’m in the middle of Geek Love right now, so stay tuned. Give me your (female written) recommendations! You got the GoodReads? I’m here.


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