Review: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

20 Books of Summer 2022: Book 7

Most of my affection for Ernest Hemingway’s writing comes from his short fiction. I remember being assigned “Hills Like White Elephants” in college. I read it quickly, too quickly, and was stunned when the in-class conversation turned to abortion. In my quest to finish my homework as fast as possible, I’d read past the topic discussed by the two main characters—the only thing happening in the story. The more we discussed it, the more the story opened up and the sparse, concise language conveyed more than I’d realized. When you come to admire an author for their concision, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you’ll like their full-length novels. When I picked up The Sun Also Rises, I was intrigued by the idea of more Hemingway. (The Frasier quote comes to mind: “Ah, but if less is more, just think of how much more more will be!”) read more

Review: Dune by Frank Herbert

20 Books of Summer 2022: Book 6

I’m split on how to feel about Frank Herbert’s Dune. I attempted to read it a few times over the years, but it never pulled me in. I only finished it now because I was impressed by the film. Arguably, the book ends on an even bigger cliffhanger, but I’m not curious enough about this world or its characters to read further. It’s a classic and I’m glad to have read it, but it wasn’t as entertaining or engaging as expected. read more

Review: A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami

20 Books of Summer 2022: Book 5

A Wild Sheep Chase is the second book I’ve read by Haruki Murakami, and once again I’m struggling with a review. This book is considerably stranger than After Dark, even if it’s easier to summarize. A Wild Sheep Chase follows an unnamed narrator after he uses a friend’s photo in a print advertisement. This photo includes a sheep with a star on its back, and the star is soon noticed by people searching for this particular sheep. They hire the narrator for an all-expense-paid quest to find the sheep in a month’s time. Or else. read more

Review: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

20 Books of Summer 2022: Book 4

This may be an unpopular opinion, but Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles is a lukewarm rehashing of The Iliad, devoid of the spark and creativity that Miller showed in Circe. As I wrote in that review, I enjoy retellings of myths. I don’t feel especially attached to any particular version, and new twists and angles on established characters are a fun way to keep old stories fresh. In Circe, the titular character is a side character from Homer’s Odyssey and Miller flipped the old narrative on its head: Circe becomes a main character with her own motives and passions and story arc. The Song of Achilles follows the same initial premise, this time with a side character from The Iliad, but the narrator, Patroclus, quickly becomes the least interesting character in his own story. read more