April Reviews

Another month, another four books. 

April was good to me, but man were we busy. I'm sitting here on May 1st, barely able to keep my eyes open after another busy weekend, including a six-mile walk around Back Bay in Newport this morning and lots of things done around the house. Oh, and there was the DUPLO building. Such tiring work. 

The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
256 pages
I wrote about this collection of essays by the late Keegan here.

Verdict: The youthful, unpolished-ness of it was part of it's charm.   

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova
368 pages
I read this as a part of Brie's book club (check it out here!) and had also read What Alice Forgot last year, and enjoyed it. This novel was about a police officer that learns that he suffers from the deadly, debilitating, Huntington's Disease. What makes it even worse, is that he has four children and a grand-baby on the way- the disease in genetic and dominant. The book follows his condition but also the different paths his children take in coping with their 50/50 odds of testing positive for the gene.

Verdict: I enjoyed learning about a medical condition that I was unfamiliar with; I'm a sucker for that kind of stuff (hence my love of Grey's and ER after both lost their original charm). I didn't think the writing was anything amazing; the characters were flat, the dialogue was forced, and the ending a bit predictable. I am also concerned that Genova is a sort of one-trick pony in terms of subject matter.

The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud
320 pages
This book is about an single elementary school teacher by day, artist by night. She's fantastic at her job but filled with rage at the same time, still mourning over the past and feeling stifled by her present and future. This changes when she becomes close to the family of one of her students, falling in love with both parents and the son in three different ways. Nora must learn to decipher her emotions and decide what she wants for the rest of her life. 

Verdict: This book suckered me in with the first few page and continued to hold me in it's grip for the first 2/3 of it. Towards the end I became slightly disinterested, though, and I'm not sure if it was because I took a quick break from reading it or because I really was tired of Nora and her excessive self-analysis. Nonetheless, Messud is a strong writer and is capable of writing strong characters. 

Point Omega by Don DeLillo
117 pages
I just finished this book this weekend, so it's still sort of percolating. This novella is about two men out in the desert skirting around creating a film the younger man wants to make of the older, a man heavily involved in the military. The story is bookended by scenes from an art gallery where the movie Psycho has been slowed down to span twenty-four hours. This idea of time, space, and detail is relevant throughout, the desert a perfect backdrop for the slow, thought-provoking text. While reading this I kept thinking about existentialism and was trying to figure out what it reminded me of, and when I saw an article in the New York Times on later it mentioned Camus. Yes! The Stranger. This meandering sense of self-reflection, dread, and a blinding honesty that maybe in the end isn't as transparent after all. 

Verdict: DeLillo is a tough guy; Underworld is my literary arch-nemesis. I am going to a reading for his new book in a week and a half (hear that? A READING! For someone amazing, too. It's just like old times) and I want to stand up during the Q&A and simultaneously yell at him and kiss his ass. He's a great challenge, though, and I think he's someone you read when you need to put your English degree to work. 

1,061 pages 

1 comment:

  1. I'm definitely intrigued by The Woman Upstairs ever since you first talked about it on her.

    Thanks for reading along with us for Inside the O'Briens. I agree, definitely not her strongest writing, but interesting subject for sure. I wonder if the writing was "dumbed-down" because Genova was writing it from a blue-collar point of view, so she really wanted us to feel immersed in that life? I dunno. I actually just watched Still Alice on Netflix as I hadn't seen it yet. Have you watched the film? I can't remember the specifics of the book, but I thought the film was very moving and well done.