Monday, October 6, 2014

Adult Fiction Round-up

In trying to keep up with blog posts about the books I'm reading with my kids, I've been neglecting update about the books I read on my own - perhaps because there hasn't been anything too exciting to write about lately. Here are a few I've read relatively recently:

The Three Day Affair - Michael Kardos:  Jake passed this one off to me after getting the recommendation, I believe, from Esquire magazine (which has actually been pretty good on he recommendation front, I have to admit).  It's a mystery of sorts about three old friends from Princeton who come together for a boys' weekend.  A stop at a convenience store goes wrong when one of the guy holds up the store and kidnaps the clerk. What follows is the three-day affair during which the friends quarrel over how to deal with the incident, and evaluate and re-evaluate their friendships.  A quick interesting read - I definitely wanted to see how this would turn out, what secrets of the past would reveal about the motivations of each character, and how split decisions perhaps done without thinking can often have such crucial impact on the rest of our lives.

The Interestings - Meg WolitzerThis book seems to have been the book club book of choice over the past year - and for good reason.  It is well written and filled with characters who each make choices that can be guessed and second-guessed throughout the novel.  The book follows six friends who met at summer camp.  As the years pass, they experience varying degrees of success, fall in and out of love with each other, and explore what it means to be in friendships and relationships with each other and with those outside of their magical circle.  While I found this book "interesting" on many levels, I have described it to other people as "basically about white people with middle class problems"  The characters reminded me of people out of a Jonathan Franzen novel, or that movie "American Beauty."  I found myself irritated by their malaise, but still compelled to find out more about them.

 We are Water - Wally Lamb:  This book was a huge disappointment.  I have truly loved Lamb's previous novels, She's Come Undone, I Know This Much is True, and The Hour I First Believed.  I appreciate Lamb's willingness to take on female characters and write them realistically.  So, I had high hopes for this one - about an artist and mother who leaves her husband after nearly thirty years of marriage to explore a relationship with another woman.  The topic is ripe for all kinds of twists and turns, and Lamb goes down many roads, but ultimately, it all fell flat.  Perhaps because there was just too much going on.  I found the characters two-dimensional and their dialogue boring and unrealistic.  I didn't care where the story was going, and all the skeletons in the closet just seemed stereotypical.  Nothing inspired about this book.  I hope Lamb will take some time off and return to the well-written and engaging novels for which he has come to be known and loved.

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