Review: Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

20 Books of Summer 2019: Book 6

My favorite Margaret Atwood book is still Stone Mattress, a collection of nine stories. There’s something about her pacing in full-length novels that doesn’t work for me. Like The Handmaid’s Tale, Oryx and Crake bounces between a dystopian future and a world a few tweaks from our present. It works well to have a main character with their feet in both worlds—who better to show the contrast?—but this means the dystopian elements must move quickly and perfectly into place. I’m not saying either future is impossible, but the speed of the transition raises questions without clear answers. read more

Review: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

20 Books of Summer 2019: Book 5

The last time I read Wuthering Heights was probably in high school. One scene burned itself into my memory: The moment a grieving Heathcliff calls to the ghost of his beloved Catherine:

He got on to the bed, and wrenched open the lattice, bursting, as he pulled at it, into an uncontrollable passion of tears. “Come in! come in!” he sobbed. “Cathy, do come. Oh, do—once more! Oh! my heart’s darling! hear me this time, Catherine, at last!” The spectre showed a spectre’s ordinary caprice: it gave no sign of being, but the snow and wind whirled wildly through, even reaching my station, and blowing out the light. (19)

I was smitten by “my heart’s darling!” Who knows why certain lines leave such an impression. So with this memory, I sat down for a reread and found Wuthering Heights so, so, so not romantic. read more

Review: You Don’t Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem

20 Books of Summer 2019: Book 3

Maybe it’s wrong to buy a book for such superficial reasons, but Jonathan Lethem’s You Don’t Love Me Yet was too well-titled to ignore. People have recommended Lethem’s books for years and I put them off until this one literally begged for a chance. I’ve read (and enjoyed) Gun, with Occasional Music since purchasing this one, but I still don’t love Lethem. read more

Review: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

20 Books of Summer 2019: Book 2

I was blown away by Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, which took the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. I went to Goodreads to log my five-star rating and was surprised to find it sitting at a solid four. It appears that the biggest factor in whether people like this book is their response to Whitehead’s treatment of the Underground Railroad as a physical railroad with trains. read more