Review: While I Was Gone by Sue Miller

20 Books of Summer 2018: Book 6

This is the first book I’ve read by Sue Miller and I was impressed by her writing style and vibrant voice. Even the slower passages and asides are engaging. That said, there’s slow bit in the middle where I felt the narrator’s boredom a little too keenly and couldn’t resist skimming. I’ve quibbled over this before—how it feels wrong to criticize a book when it makes me feel the character’s mood so well—but there must be a line between comprehending the protagonist’s boredom and feeling bored. Boredom > being bored? read more

Review: The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard

20 Books of Summer: Book 5

J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise and Concrete Island are both creepily brilliant, but The Drowned World doesn’t meet their high bar. The writing is spectacular, but the characters are too flat for my taste. They’re buried under so much allegory that they lack surface-level believability or function. In the past, I’ve admired that Ballard writes stories that work on multiple levels, but The Drowned World is primarily a riff on Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness. read more