The week in review

Fantastic week, other than instant regret over not traveling for the eclipse. 91% was kind of cool, but clearly we missed out with that other 9.  See you in 2024, totality!

I am struggling to figure out the audience for The Lonely Hearts Hotel. Man, what is with this book? I can’t say that I especially liked it, but A for originality, I guess. I want to say it’s like Bugsy Malone crossed with Sid and Nancy, but that sounds way better than this was. But it was definitely as weird as that sounds. The whole thing felt like what you would get if you asked a child to write the most grown up story they could think of. I don’t know, this was just super weird.

Motherest was a big step up from there. This was really enjoyable for me, partly because it was about a girl going away to college right around the same time that I did, and there were some interesting parallels. (My favorite being that she went to the abortion rights march in DC in April of 1989. Me too!) This was just a perfect story about family and friendships and grief and growing up and I absolutely loved it.

The Party was another one that was right in my wheelhouse. I’m always drawn to stories about strained, unbalanced friendships, especially if there’s class envy involved. I loved the story, and the structure, and the characters here. It was building up to a big reveal that ending up not having as much impact as I was hoping for, but still a very worthwhile read for me. It could maybe be called The Not All That Talented Mr Ripley, if that tells you anything.

I had pretty high hopes for Who Is Rich? but it did not live up to the hype. I don’t know if this is right or wrong, but I pay attention to blurbs, and this has some pretty heavy hitters quoted on the back cover. Jennifer Egan, Curtis Sittenfeld, Richard Russo…I don’t see their names on other people’s books that often, so I figured this was going to be great. It wasn’t. This is about a guy having an affair, and a midlife crisis, and spends the whole book going back and forth between rationalizing his actions and regretting them. And he does some inexplicably stupid things. I really tried to care about this but it got incredibly tedious; it was only about 300 pages but it should have been cut in half. The most disappointing thing was that the main character is teaching a writing class and there was so little time spent on that part. Writing class scenes are usually gold! Ugh, such a waste.

The other day I saw a Twitter thread asking for great novels about women “of a certain age,” and several people recommended Emily, Alone. Stewart O’Nan has been on my radar forever but I don’t think I’ve ever actually read anything by him, so I’m happy to start with this one. I’m cautious about saying that I love it so far, because usually when I say that, things go south, but…I love it so far! I can’t wait to get back to it, so I’m signing off for now. Until next week!