Oh hey, look who’s kind of on time here. Over the last few weeks it seems I’ve only read crime or family dramas, but luckily not family crime novels. November was a good month for reading and as it gets toward the end of the year, I’m left with a little hope of piling on some more good stuff.
#43: Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead - Oh how I wanted to like this! A wedding, some antics by an erratic father, New England, it all seemed great. It was not great however, when I realized that all of the people in this book were insufferable with only a few redeeming qualities I had to hunt down. The plot changes that were supposed to move the book forward just seemed superficial. This may sound harsh but you know that blog White Whine? They should just blog this entire book. It was that painful.
#44: The Face Thief by Eli Gottlieb - You know why I picked up this book? Because it’s called The Face Thief and that’s an awesome name. The story is told from the perspective of those who have had an encounter with said thief who is able to essentially make a few people around her self destruct. It is one of those books that moves quickly and doesn’t actually require much input from the reader. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) no faces actually get stolen here.
#45: The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg - This is the part where I’d like to stand on a chair and yell “This is how you write about family! More of this please!” It was such a pleasure to read this after Seating Arrangements. The Middlesteins is about how family relates to multiple stresses including food, divorce, loneliness, religion, and one another. Attenberg gives each character their full due which includes their flaws but also their underlying hope. Not one single aspect of the book seemed forced. It felt as though this could have been any of us at any time rather than some grand novel for the pleasure of a happy ending. Perhaps it felt personal because as we grow up it’s easy to see the layers of what’s happening around us and it’s nice to know that change is shared.
#46: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn - I wasn’t thrilled by Gone Girl but I was sort of bored and wanted to see what else Flynn had to offer. If you don’t like super dark, gritty, and sort of grotesque crime, don’t read this. It’s a doozey. There is of course a big twist at the end, but I thought it could have been written better. Now that I’ve read a couple of books by her, it seems that Flynn is really really into the first 80% of the books she writes and then sort of putters out in the last 20%. Like Gone Girl, I still left with conclusion of “Welp, crazy people still do crazy things.” That’s just the way it is.
#47: Carry the One by Carol Anshaw - If it tells you much, I finished this book last week and I’m still thinking about it. I started it before I knew it was on the NYTimes Notable Books of 2012 but now I know it absolutely deserves to be there. It follows a group of people involved in a car crash by winding through their next twenty years. The funny thing is that the book is more about change instead of an actual event. The accident is written into the background of a relationship or a birth or even a painting. Anshaw’s characters were all simple human beings no more or less. They felt absolutely real, as if maybe I’ve already come across them. If you’re looking for nothing but fantastic writing, this and The Middlesteins are an excellent place to start.