I devoured this sharp, peculiar memoir in a single evening. Gornick, in a voice unlike anyone else’s—funny, incisive, disappointed—describes walks through New York City, conversations with friends and lovers, and “odd women” of literature and history whose lives have not conformed to the conventional patterns of marriage and motherhood. Gornick is as keen a critic as she is a trenchant observer of the daily drama of the city sidewalk, but this book isn’t just smart: it’s dazzlingly alive and deeply moving.
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A mysterious young actress with a fatal diagnosis, a hopeful young Italian pensione keeper, a reprobate Hollywood producer and his frustrated assistant, Richard Burton at the beginning of his relationship with Elizabeth Taylor, a post-WWII American soldier trying to write his depression away, a no-longer young musician trying to make a comeback at The Fringe…This richly imagined novel uses shifts in time and place to traverse the fates of its several struggling characters. Reading it may make you wonder if you have been “pitched” a movie about the Donner party, but a backwater theater stages such a beautiful pivot in the plot…
Kevin Brockmeier is a marvelous writer of fiction, whose work ranges from realism to fantasy. His most recent book is a tender, funny memoir of his year in seventh grade, by all odds the most horrifying time in a child’s life. Your body changes, your social world changes, what is expected of you changes, and notions of who you might become begin to suggest themselves to you. Brockmeier understands this but he also understands that 7th graders are children, sometime adorable in the manner of children. Kevin doesn’t understand that he is gay, although he suspects something is different in his personality. He manages to remember more about this scary time of life than I have suppressed. I am thankful to him for sharing humorously, and wisely this horrifying but important time in his life. It’s the best kid memoir I know.
All the Light We Cannot See is the story of two young people -- a blind girl living in Paris with her father, a locksmith for the Museum of Natural History, and a boy who lives with his sister in an orphanage in Essen. Covering the years of 1934 to 1944, we follow these youths as Marie-Laure flees Paris and the Nazis to the ancient walled city of St. Malo on the Atlantic coast and Werner becomes a member of the Hitler Youth and then a radio engineer in the German army. Their lives will intersect in an almost inevitable way in this exquisite novel of war, love, hope and dreams. Lyrical, heart-breaking and stunning. I can't recall a book such as this, that I was able to see every detail as I read it. Highly recommended.