In America, the writer Meg Wolitzer is usually compared with Jeffrey Eugenides and Jonathan Franzen, and perhaps this comparison is not without formal reasons. The stories that Wolitzer tells are of the same type as these two, and are also best described by the well-known phrase about the long vine and the top flight of the angels: a small private human life on the one hand and a cast-iron tread of great American history on the other.
Monthly Archives For January 2019
The 14-year-old Evie, the granddaughter of a Hollywood star, just divorced parents (her father escaped with a young beauty, her mother frantically trying to build a new “personal life” on the ruins of her previous marriage), she had a falling out with a single girlfriend, there was no boyfriend and no, but the window is a sultry Californian summer and the farewell bonfire of the sixties is burning down.
Imagine a world where any shameful thought, any lie, lust, anger or envy are materially embodied, so that they cannot be hidden from anyone. It is this world that the American writer of Czech-German origin, Dan Vyleta,draws in his novel: in the alternative Victorian England he created, someone should think about something bad, from the pores of his skin heavy black smoke begins to leak, staining clothes and intoxicating mind.
Nigeria’s debut novel Chigozie Obioma is a classic case of a book written for a specific task: the author obviously wanted to enter the short list of the Booker Prize for the quota for writers from the Commonwealth countries and brilliantly succeeded (“The Fishermen” was called one of the main contenders for the 2015).
Despite the 700-page cyclopic volume, Englishman Nick Harkaway’s “The Gone-Away World” reads more like a synopsis of a novel than a novel itself. The action in it rushes at a gallop with a breathless haste, almost without the participation of adjectives and adverbs. In addition, having begun with a vigorous action, the novel’s plot suddenly lays a flashback loop of three hundred pages – seemingly unmotivated and too long by any measure.
American Lucia Berlin was born in 1936 in the family of a mining engineer and died on her sixty-eighth birthday, clutching one of her favorite books. She lived in California, Colorado, Chile and Alaska, was beautiful, alcoholic and a hunchback, taught Spanish at school, cleaned other people’s houses, worked as an emergency room nurse, call center operator, huddled in a trailer, got married three times, and gave birth to four sons. In addition, Lucia Berlin wrote stories – only seventy-six pieces, which were published from time to time, but never brought fame or money to their creator.
The novel Robert Jackson Bennett belongs to the kind of fantasy, which can be safely recommended even to readers who are not fantasy of spirit. Perhaps this is precisely his property – belonging both to “high” and “genre” literature – left him out of the reader’s attention: “City of Stairs” is an excellent reading that combines the burning fascination of the plot with the widest range of affected issues – from terrorism to xenophobia.
“Hot Milk” last year’s Booker finalist Deborah Levy is an ideal prose of the poet (at home, in Britain, the author is known rather as a poet and theatrical figure): flickering, unsteady, she seemed to be collected from individual pictures. Summer, heat, sea salt, falling in love, sand adhering to the body, painful and sweet feeling of youth as uncertainty, like a space of possibilities that will soon collapse anyway, and the alarm that the moment of painful timelessness cannot be delayed forever – this is an approximate set of images and the sensations (certainly incomplete) that the book Deborah Levy generates.
English historian and journalist Ben Macintyre is known mainly for the documentary novel “Operation Mincemeat”, which tells about the dizzying scam of British intelligence on the eve of the Allied landings in Normandy. In the current book of Macintyre, his rare ability to transform a large, global history into history as a literary story, and then back, not an inch without departing from the truth appears even brighter.
Fannie Flagg is a true literary phenomenon: in fact, for many years it has been writing the same story, in which good people have a good way to do everything, both in this life and in the next. In the retelling, you cannot think out more melancholy, but in practice it is wonderful, comforting and, what is most surprising, absolutely not boring reading.