Review: The Final Solution by Michael Chabon

The Final Solution is classic Michael Chabon, but the size of an appetizer. It’s a fair introduction to his writing though it lacks his usual humor. Some writers are fun to hate, but Chabon is one that I try so hard to like and come up short. Each of his books (even the Pulitzer winner) share a flaw: He can’t edit himself. His meandering tone saps energy, and his writing is unappealingly pretentious. He writes as though his adjectives and parenthetical remarks are more important than the development of plot and characters. read more

Review: Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler

Two chapters in, I put seven copies of Anne Tyler’s Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant in my Amazon cart for Christmas and texted folks to say: I found your gift early! A few more chapters and I cleared my cart, sent a round of “Neverminds,” and poured a big drink. It’s not right to label this book “depressing,” but its engrossing depiction of unhappy people isn’t the cheeriest gift for a holiday that’s already awash in familial weirdness. (You still need to read it, though!) read more

SBIRIFY: Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

So Bad, I Read It For You: Stephenie Meyer’s Eclipse. We’ve arrived at book three of the Twilight Saga. If you’re not familiar, I recommend a catch-up of Twilight (Book One) and New Moon (Book Two). The following review contains all major plot points for everyone who wants to know what happens without reading the book. I’ve read it, so you don’t have to. (Book Three clocks in at 629 pages—they’re getting longer! Help me.) read more

Original Fiction: Baba Yaga

There’s a special place in my heart for old school fairy tales, though this is the first time I’ve pulled an established character into one of my own. Baba Yaga, a staple of Slavic folklore, has been portrayed as both helpful and villainous, and is often ambiguous. I’ve included bits of the original tradition (her chicken legged hut, iron teeth, and bone gate) and a few references to various stories. On Wikipedia, I found mention of a blue rose tea that enables her to grow a year younger (she ages when helping people), but could not find the actual story in which this exists. (If anyone knows it…) In the meantime, it’s my deepest fear that I’ve somehow replicated something old and I’m not original after all. read more

Review: When the Nines Roll Over by David Benioff

When I like an author, I feel obligated to appreciate all their work as a show of loyalty. David Benioff’s City of Thieves is one of my Top Five so it hurts to say things like: “When the Nines Roll Over is inconsistent” and “Benioff doesn’t get credit for a diverse cast of characters if they all have the same voice”. I could say worse, but this man played a key role in fixing A Game of Thrones for its small screen adaptation. He is on my good side. [NOTE: I WROTE THE PREVIOUS TWO SENTENCES LONG BEFORE THE FINAL SEASONS OF GAME OF THRONES.]

On a first read, this collection is fantastic. I was swept up in each story and excited by their quirkiness. Each has a simple premise, but all have some new angle. I’d have written this book a love letter, but it didn’t hold the same appeal when I re-read it ahead of this post. I noticed flaws I hadn’t noticed the first time when I’d been distracted by its novelty. read more