Quick takes- January 2018

Three nonfiction in one month? That may be more than I read all last year.

The Dinner Party. 4 stars. I’m still shuddering from that last story. Very solid collection. I don’t think he’s ever been as good as his first novel, but I love his writing.

The Immortalists. 5 stars. I have to let go of the one little thing that bugged me about this, because it was otherwise excellent. Really great sibling story; it was right up my alley and I loved it.

Rabbit Cake. 5 stars. Perfect, charming little gem of a book. Funny and sad, strikes perfect chords, I loved this.

Salt Houses. 5 stars. Multigenerational saga done so very well. It took me a little bit to get into it, but great setting, great characters, great story. High recommend.

A Selfie as Big as the Ritz. 4 stars. A high four stars. I wish some of the stories had been expanded more, but I loved her writing style. I can’t wait to hear more from her.

The Daughters. 3 stars. Very disappointing one for me. I thought I would love this; it was a good plot but bad storytelling. I’m still mad about it.

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. 2 stars. Middle aged white guy worries that SJWs are making it too hard to be racist and sexist. Bless your motherfucking heart, sir.

The Dark Dark. 5 stars. This collection veers pretty wildly in quality, but I love her writing. The last story (a story within a story within a story…) was A+ killer.

Borne. I didn’t give this one a rating. It was just not my thing at all. I tried.

The World According to Garp. 4 stars. I loved it when I was younger, kind of all over the place today. I still want to reread Owen Meany someday.

So you want to talk about race. 5 stars. We should always listen to Ijeoma Oluo, always, she is always right, The End.

Smile. 4 stars. Roddy Doyle can just always get to me like nobody else can. Like a grownup companion piece to Paddy Clarke, which means it will wreck you when you’re least expecting it.

I Blame Dennis Hopper. 5 stars. Super fun and interesting, but you kind of want to go get drinks with her to get her to spill the real dirt. She’s both a fan and an insider and her stories are a total delight.

Heather the Totality. 2 stars. I can’t believe I wasted that “As a father to a daughter: the novel” line on Garp! This is an ode to the patriarchy, but still, it could have been interesting and effective if it had gone deeper. Instead, it feels like an  outline, or a movie treatment.  It does remind me of one of my brother’s favorite movie lines: “Who’s your tailor? That suit looks like the lining…to a better suit.”

Top picks: A lot of good ones this month! The Immortalists is a can’t miss. Same for So you want to talk about race. And Salt Houses. And the Dark Dark. And I Blame Dennis Hopper, if you like movies.  Lots of good ones, so get cracking.