Category Archives: New fiction

* The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living by Martin Clark

 

One would think that a story that includes two murders, a robbery, an unexpected inheritance, a lottery win, a bitter divorce, and many counts of police irregularities would make for a rollickingly fun yarn. Instead, The Many Aspect of Mobile Home Living is full of boring middle-aged men who smoke a lot, drink a lot, and don’t seem to do much else. Yawn, despite the touching love between two brothers.

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** The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

The Dutch House follows a brother and sister from what could be a perfect childhood in the big house of a title with a doting staff, but minus a mother who disappeared mysteriously, all the way into adulthood, past the misery of an evil stepmother. I enjoyed the complicated relationship between the siblings and the portrait of their mother, a woman who is much more than the deserter of her children. I was taken by the story and wanted to know more. But it seems a little contrived, with all the family members attending elite schools and achieving great success.

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* Chances Are by Richard Russo

As Chances Are opens, three college friends are getting together for a weekend in the Cape Cod house of on of them, decades after a young woman disappeared mysteriously from the same house, as they were all gathered for a post-graduation ceremony. The mystery will be untangled and many memories shared, or relived. It’s all fine and comfortable and even entertaining, but a little lightweight at the same time.

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** American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson

I find spy novels ridiculous and, although American Spy is elaborately staged and includes a clever family and romantic back story, I did not enjoy the spying bits, of which they are many. But you might!

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*** The Economists’ Hour by Binyamin Appelbaum

Can a book about economics, or economists, be entertaining? The Economists’ Hour: False Prophets, Free Markets, and the Fracture of Society is, despite the overall pessimistic tone of the story. The author traces the rise of economics from the 1960s onward, and it’s not pretty. Indeed, it feels like economists, for the most part, have used the world as their personal playground to test out theories that are not proven and perhaps are not provable at all, about the draft, the optimum size of government, price deregulation, the benefits of the National Parks Service, or the wisdom of controlling inflation. It is a call for better political management of the not-quite-science of economics.

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** The Factory by Hiroyo Oyamada

The Factory is the account of three workers at a large company pursuing pointless tasks in the midst of a stupefying bureaucracy, in a Kafkaesque ambiance. It’s unexpectedly funny, but for me felt pointless and incomplete, much like the jobs. I will take this opportunity to plug Convenience Store Woman, another view of working in Japan.

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*** Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

Olive, Again continues the story told in Olive Kitteridge, with the heroine a little older but still blunt, practical, and just a little detached to fully commune with family and friends, to everyone’s dismay. It’s sweet and sad.

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