Book Review | Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami

killing commendatore book cover.jpgAt over 680 pages, this tome may be daunting, but the story is well worth your time. More like Murakami’s earlier writings, specifically The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles and Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the WorldKilling Commendatore is a real winner. The basis of the story is a painter who has recently separated with his wife, goes to live in the mountains as caretaker for the remote residence of another famous painter. Once a diverse cast of characters is introduced, the plot takes a surreal dive into a literal pit the painter is drawn to unearth in his back yard.

Murakami’s signature writing style will have fans smiling from the beginning of this book. The novel includes ample twists and turns, and the author does a fabulous job of weaving together many themes and plot lines. Magical realism works so well as a binding agent for these various subjects. While not all long-time Murakami fans may have enjoyed his last few publications as much as the oldies, this serves as more of a return to his writing roots and is sure to entertain the critics. Check it out from a library near you!

*Fans of Killing Commendatore, may enjoy Taduno’s Song by Odafe Atogun (2017).

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Book Review | If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi by Neel Patel

This is an interesting collection of 11 short stories involving Indian Americans. Recurring topics include interpersonal relationships, family business, sexual relations, and cultural perceptions, among others. Most characters seem to be in their 20’s to 40’s and dealing with issues present in everyday life. While the narrators could be from any background and experiencing their issues, the stories are injected with an Indian flavor that makes the book stand apart from other similar works.

Easily digestible, each tale has a specific focus and voice. While none of the stories is particularly uplifting, each one does hold the reader’s interest and create a curiosity for what is to come. Clearly, many of Patel’s cultural insights come from personal experience, which he is able to share in a way that makes the characters relatable. This book is recommended for fans of ethnic fiction, realistic short stories, or those looking for a quick read while in transit. Check it out from a library near you.

I received an advance reading copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating. *Fans of If you See me, Don’t Say Hi, may enjoy A Life of Adventure and Delight by Akhil Sharma (2017).

Book Review | The Story of a Marriage by Geir Gulliksen

story of a marraige cover.jpgOriginally published in Norway as Historie om et ektenskap, The Story of a Marriage introduces married couple Jon and Timmy, and focuses on the effect of Timmy’s extramarital relation with Gunnar. As neighbors, Timmy and Gunnar are able to frequently participate in physical activities like running and skiing together. At first Timmy denies any romantic interest in Gunnar, but as they spend increasingly more time together, she is unable to deny that her feelings have changed. Jon, as a stay at home dad and author, is left with too much time to reflect on their relationship and identify fears he has about their crumbling romantic future.

Gulliksen has created a searing portrait of an unbalanced marriage. As he tells the story from the husband’s perspective, it is made clear that this in not an entirely reliable narrative point of view. The imbalance in the couple’s thoughts and feelings is palpable and, as their relationship devolves, so is the emotional pain. Readers with a failed love story of their own should be able to relate to the text on multiple levels. (It does involve sex, so if that’s a trigger, maybe avoid.) Overall, well written book. Check it out from a library near you!

I received an uncorrected proof of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating. *Fans of The Story of a Marriage, may enjoy Shelter in Place by Alexander Maksik (2016) or The Only Story by Julian Barnes (2018).

Book Review | The Only Story by Julian Barnes

the only story cover.jpgAt home on summer leave from university, Paul joins the tennis club where he is paired with Susan for a mixed doubles tournament. Despite her being married and his mother’s age, the two hit it off and before long are involved in an affair. Recounted by Paul, the memories provided are pieces of their love story, which spans more than a few years. Of course, as many love relations do, this one has its thorns.

The Only Story is a great read. Paul’s tone is intimate and direct, drawing the reader in from the first page. The story flows quickly, delving into his relationship with Susan. Barnes’s choice to use the second person narrative style works well and serves to engage the reader mentally. Readers with a failed love story of their own should be able to relate to the text on multiple levels. This piece will be especially of interest to those whose partners have had addiction issues. Check it out from a library near you!

*Fans of The Only Story, may enjoy Shelter in Place by Alexander Maksik (2016).

Book Review | You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld

you thinkn it i'll say it cover.jpgReleased in April, You Think It, I’ll Say It is a well-written collection of ten short stories. One piece describes the reunion of a divorced man and the woman he never knew had a crush on him during high school, while another follows a new mother and her antipathy toward another mother in various group session settings. These realistic stories contain diverse characters, various adult themes and several laughs.

As advertised, the stories in this book deal with day to day events. Most readers will be able to relate to some of the characters’ experiences. Sittenfeld has an appealing voice and tone, which make the stories very readable. I found this book to be more of a good way to pass the time than a thought provoking, memorable read. It would be great for readers wanting down to earth distraction in short story form. Check it out at a library near you!

I received an advance reader’s edition of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

*If you’ve enjoyed reading You Think It, I’ll Say It, you may be interested in Come West and See by Maxim Lokustoff (2018).

Book Review | Come West and See : Stories by Maxim Loskutoff

come west and see cover.jpgReleased last month, Come West and See is a well-written collection of twelve short stories. They introduce the reader to the rebel territory of the Redoubt in the North West and various characters involved in trying situations there. One piece describes a man falling in love with a bear, while another follows a couple who have been impaled by long arrows. Sometimes outlandish, these stories are packed full of real emotion, raw tragedy and some good laughs.

Loskutoff’s voice and writing style are very appealing. Soon after I started reading, I attempted to find other works I could get my hands on by Loskutoff, but this is his first major publication. These stories are great. This is one of those books you can easily pick up to take your mind of whatever happens to be bothering you. Check it out at a library near you!

I received an advance reading copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

*If you’ve enjoyed reading Come West and See, you may be interested in Taduno’s Song by Odafe Atogun (2016).

Book Review | How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

how to stop time cover.jpgImagine living for hundreds of years, but aging very, very slowly. Haig’s most recent novel, How to Stop Time, presents a protagonist and members of the supporting cast with such a condition. Although the rule for people with ‘anageria’ is not to fall in love, Tom Hazard finds the love of his life and fathers a daughter who shares his condition. Forced to leave her behind in dangerous times, Tom then spends several lifetimes searching for her and reliving memories of interactions with Shakespeare, a witch hunter and Captain Cook to name a few.

This book is interesting from the beginning. Interwoven historical flashbacks are very entertaining and mesh well to tell a story that has been happening for centuries. This thought provoking read keeps a good clip going, with a surprisingly small cast. Recommended to fans of historical fiction and mild fantasy. Check it out from a library near you.

I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

*Fans of How to Stop Time, may be interested in Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.