I didn’t like this Man Booker Prize winning book at all but I admire it as a piece of experimental literature. LincolnintheBardo by GeorgeSaunders was the strangest book I have ever read. It’s narrative structure irritated and distracted me. I started and stopped this book about ten times and reread a lot of books in between reading this. But finally I got to the end.
Lincoln in the Bardo tells the tale of the death of President Lincoln’s eleven-year-old son Willie and the imagined story of him lingering in a place between life and death. This bardo is inhabited by other spirits who wander restlessly through the graveyard where they were buried arguing with each other and recounting tales of their lives and disappointments.
President Lincoln greatly shakes up this world in between when he comes to the crypt at night to visit his dead son.
This is a highly imaginative book that is told via many different points-of-view. Sometimes it’s a sentence at a time so pages are filled with one line from a character and then a citation of who that character is. Sometimes one little observation about an event is told from ten different people’s perspectives and everyone has a different opinion. It was this manner of narration that drove me crazy because I felt it ruined the flow of writing. It took me three quarters of the book to get used to this style of writing. Continue reading →
I started 2018 reading Little Fires Everywhereby Celeste Ng. I had heard great things about this book so was very happy to get this as a Christmas gift from my husband. I am on a great reading roll at the moment and this makes the third book in a row that I have devoured.
At first I thought this was going to be a hard book to get into, but I dived into this without any effort and was sustained by a cast of interesting characters and a riveting plot that delved into the lives of the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots,’ the conformers and the free spirits.
Set during the time of Clinton’s presidency in Shaker Heights, Cleveland, a meticulously planned town, it follows the lives of the golden Richardson family consisting of two parents and four teenagers. Into their lives comes Mia Warren and her teenager daughter, Pearl, who rent a house from the Richardsons.
Mia is a struggling artist who moves from place to place and doesn’t like to be tied down. She has a mysterious past and I was pleasantly surprised when the story of her past was revealed. She is the opposite of Mrs Elena Richardson who was born and bred in Shaker Heights and likes everyone and everything to be in its place.
LittleFiresEverywhere is a story about teenagers, mothers, families, parenting, art, race, class, creativity and love, told from many perspectives. There’s also a court case woven into the story that will have you debating both sides as an affluent couple who can’t have a child of their own adopt an abandoned Chinese baby, only to have the birth mother come into their lives after a year and want her baby back. I couldn’t help but cheer at the outcome of this part of the plot, even though I felt for the other side.
I’ve never read any books by Celeste Ng before but I definitely will in the future. I can see why this book was the 2017 Winner of Best Fiction in the goodreads choice awards. If you haven’t already read it and you like quality fiction, give this a read.
Verdict: An absolutely compelling book worth a read.
If you have read (or watched) The Handmaid’s Tale or Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood and loved both, can I suggest a book I think you will like? It’s called The Natural Way of Things by Australian author Charlotte Wood and it very much fits into the same category.
I first read The Natural Way of Things very early on in its life (at manuscript stage) and it has since gone on to sell tens of thousands of copies (and counting) and win many literary prizes*. Having just finished watching Alias Grace on Netflix over the past week, it put this gem of a book back into my mind.
The Natural Way of Things has an intriguing premise—ten young women wake up after being kidnapped and drugged to find themselves imprisoned in a jail in the middle of nowhere. What is their crime and who has put them there? Soon you find out exactly what they have in common—each had a sex scandal with a powerful man made public—but does that make their imprisonment just? Each woman handles her incarceration in a different way as they are lorded over by two inept male jailers. When the food starts to run low, the tension rises.