Sunday, December 2, 2012

Mini Reviews of Books I Read Sometime in 2011

I don't review every book I read. I review most of them, but from time to time I read things that I just don't have that much to say about- which is not to say I didn't like the book, just that I don't have enough thoughts about it for a full-length post. I have a stack of those books from last year staring at me on a bookshelf near where I blog, and I think now is as good a time as any to finish up with them.

Lucy, by Jamaica Kincaid, is a story about a girl from the Caribbean who comes to live with an American couple to work as an au pair. You know how I just said it's not necessarily that I didn't a book that I chose not to review it? Well, I didn't really like this one. Lucy seemed like a pretty miserable person and while I admire Kincaid's craftsmanship, Lucy isn't one of those fun unlikeable characters that you might find in a satire. She's just kind of a buzzkill.

Election is Tom Perotta's novel that was used as a the basis for the 1999 film starring Reese Witherspoon. I liked the movie better. The story is the same but the filmmakers did a great job of tightening up the characters and sharpening the satire- which is pretty cutting in the book but razor-sharp on screen. I enjoyed this story about small-town high-school election shenanigans but I'd recommend the movie over the book.
The Giant's House by Elizabeth McCracken is a contemporary classic about a very tall boy and the librarian who comes to care for him. It's a book that should be required reading for anyone who's ever felt different.

If I Loved You I Would Tell You This, by Robin Black, is a stunning collection of short stories from a gifted voice in fiction. I was profoundly moved by some of these, and awed by the rest. If you read short stories, this should already be on your shelf.

The Sweet Hereafter, by Russell Banks, is another you might know from its film adaptation. A lyrical, bitter and impeccably crafted multi-voiced narrative that moves back and forth through time, it tells the story of a tragic bus accident and its impact on a tiny, tight-knit, snowbound town. It's another modern classic and should be on everyone's bookshelf.

 Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros is actually a pretty wonderful, multilayered and absorbing coming of age story about a Mexican-American family and its travails as they criss-cross the country in search of prosperity. I fell in love with Lala Reyes, the young protagonist, and her whole family. The Giant's House and The Sweet Hereafter are modern classics and I appreciate them in that way, but for the sheer joy of reading, Caramelo is my favorite from this list.

FTC Disclosure: None of these books came to me for review.


rhapsodyinbooks said...

I love mini reviews! I wish I had the skill to do them that you display so well!

bermudaonion said...

Those are all new to me. The Giant's House is the most appealing in my opinion.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Love your way of knocking these out! Not sure why I feel compelled to go on and on about every book I read. I'm drawn to the collection of short stories.

Ted said...

Isn't The Giant's House great? I was really taken with that novel.

Alexia561 said...

Love your mini reviews! Wish I could do them, but every time I've tried, they wind up longer than a regular review! :o

Jenners said...

I like the movie version of election better too.

Vasilly said...

I'm reading The Giant's House right now and really enjoying it so I'm glad to see that you did too. NOW I feel a little better about Caramelo being on my tbr list! :-) I love Cisneros' writing, but Caramelo is a really thick book. Since you enjoyed it so much, I need to move it farther up on my list. Great mini-reviews.