Dear Life: Stories by Alice Munro

Dear Life: Stories is, as one reviewer posited, a bad place to start reading such an acclaimed author. This may very well be true. Either way, I have no intention of continuing to read any of Munro’s work after reading what amounts to an extremely over sold and boring set of stories.

I honestly have no idea where Munro earned her reputation from, earning the Nobel prize and all. Then again, Humboldt’s Gift by Saul Bellow earned the Pulitzer and I’m stuck a third of the way through that. So, yes, I can see the award winning, I just can’t understand it.

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Clans of the Alphane Moon by Phillip K. Dick

A fast-paced novel, Clans of the Alphane Moon has a little of everything: a meditation on the civil rights of the mentally ill and the freedom of free will and free agency; the trials of marriage and divorce; the insanity of a paranoid security apparatus.

Far from being the failure or claptrap Barry Malzberg calls it (sci-fe being a lesser genre in his not-so-humble opinion) in at least one edition (Bluejay Special Edition) of the book.

Worth the read.

On Goodreads

Samaritan by Richard Price

Samaritan, the first Richard Price book I’ve read, reminded me why reading can be so enjoyable. Plotting, pace, dialogue, characters, it’s all brilliant here. Easy to look over are the beautiful turns of phrase.

I will admit, at the end, the morality starts beginning to feel less like a revelation after the fifth or sixth time and more like hammer banging on an already flush nail.

Leading up to that morality, and the play itself, was not something I realized until I finished the book, was not something I was cognizant of. Brilliant.

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The Long War by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

The sequel (in a planned series) to The Long Earth is a disjointed, unbelievable and internal-morality questionable series of vignettes, too many characters and, worst of all, no actual plot.
Please, don’t get me wrong. I love Terry Pratchett’s books, to a fault, and I feel sacrilegious writing this review after his early death.
The Long War is, however, an un-plotted bore that breaks the suspension of disbelief and has an uneven moral grounding.

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This Must Be the Place by Anna Winger

This Must Be the Place is a well-written exercise in nothing-happens fiction.
Some may argue for the virtues of nothing-happens fiction (Ulysses) or point to other great novels by literary greats where nothing actually happens.

Kudos to those people because they are ignoring the flip-side of do-nothing fiction: the multitude of books published that are, at their core and outer edges and everywhere in between, boring. Boring, boring, boring.

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House of Echoes by Brendan Duffy

House of Echoes is plagued with problems, from a clichéd plot ripped from X-Files episodes, to an entire lack of action/plot development to a complete and total non-suspension of disbelief. Couple all of these problems with some rich whiney city people who move to a not-rural Eastern town? (C’mon New York; move to Utah, Idaho, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, etc., the middle of these states, and then you can start complaining about rural life). It’s a recipe for a boring waste of time.
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