Literature

Shaun Randol

Voices of Time: A Life in Stories is a compilation of ~330 vignettes, most delivered in one page and many in just a paragraph or two. As such, Voices is a colorful collection of fleeting, but not trivial, thoughts from Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano. It is, in turns, poetic, whimsical, political, and reverential.

Shaun Randol

A “true masterpiece” said Vanguardia about this novel. It must be the case that Vanguardia doesn’t get out to the bookstores that often, because for me Distant Star is consistently less than stellar. It is not an entire disaster: the story is book-ended by twenty exciting pages on either side. But for the most part, the middle of the book sagged under its own boring weight. Many of the sentences just zipped past my eyes, like cockroaches skittering across dirty floors.

Shaun Randol

Having confined myself to reading non-Western authors this year, those familiar with Vladimir Nabokov and Lolita may question my pick. After all, the book was written in English and it takes place in the Westernest of all Western cultures: the U.S. of A. Rest assured, however, that I am—or was—unschooled in Nabokovism.

Shaun Randol

By switching between flashbacks and the present, and sprinkling in some gritty scenes (child rape) and colorful detail (quoting John Wayne) Chris Abani builds a compelling narrative through the first half Graceland, like the beginning of a roller coaster ride clacking you to the top of the first big hill.

Shaun Randol

An older woman sitting next to me on the train asked me what I thought of The Housekeeper and the Professor. “It’s not riveting,” I answered, “but it’s a quick read.” I liken the book to a piece of chewing gum: delicious and mouth watering at first, but soon the flavor is lost, compelling you to find a trash can in which to spit it out.

Shaun Randol

With reminders of the horrors of war (what is it good for, really?) tucked away in all corners of our small world, it’s a wonder we can find time to laugh and persevere. The Guest is an important work; that it has been translated into English now makes it a more influential piece. War is universally a hellish experience. The more reminders we have of its debasing influence, the more, hopefully, we will be swayed to avoid its downward spiral.

Shaun Randol

I deem The Namesake an average novel (and probably an average movie). There is just enough narrative to move the story along, but there is a decided lack of creativity in the presentation of the story. No passion. No linguistic flourishes. No tangents. It’s as if I was snowed in for three days and Lahiri were reciting a fireside story to pass the time.

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