“Her Fearful Symmetry” a novel by Audrey Niffenegger
This is a thoroughly original literary ghost story set against the backdrop of London, specifically the Highgate Cemetary where George Eliot, Karl Marx and others are buried. I read “The Time Traveller’s Wife” when it first came out and really enjoyed the story but I felt that much of my energy focused on following the characters in time. Reading this novel, I was able to not only appreciate Niffenegger’s storytelling skills but the beauty of her sentences as well.
“Mathilda Savitch” a novel by Victor Lodato
This novel is told through the most amazingly unique voice of the title character, Mathilda Savitch. From the opening line of “I want to be awful” I was hooked. Mathilda yearns to bring her parents back from their all consuming grief over the death of Mathilda’s older sister who was pushed in front of train by a man who was still on the loose. Mathilda goes through her sister’s personal possessions including her email after finally figuring out the password, trying to gather clues as to who could be responsible for her sister’s death. The story is filled with moments that made me laugh out loud as well as gasp at the sadness laid bare on the pages in front of me.
“An American Wife” a novel by Curtis Sittenfeld
After seeing Laura Bush on several shows promoting her new memoir I found myself intrigued with her story. I remembered I had this novel which is based on her life but it tells the story of fictional first wife Alice Blackwell. The similarities are too obvious to ignore so I couldn’t help but picture Laura and George Bush as the characters which made for an entertaining and sometimes disturbing reading experience especially when it came to the fairly explicit sex scenes. (Some images I just don’t need to have stored in my brain.) I imagine it must be difficult to start with a real person, especially one so well-known but Sittenfeld does an amazing job of really getting inside this fictional character with all of her contradictions.
“Imperfect Birds” a novel by Anne Lamott
This is the third novel featuring Rosie Ferguson who is now seventeen. The first two were “Rosie” and “Blue Shoes”. I found this one difficult to read I think because of the subject matter. Rosie is deep into drugs as are her friends. Her mother. Elizabeth, is suspicious but wants to trust her daughter. Her step-father, James, tends to see through Rosie’s act which is hard to do since on the surface she seems to living a well-adjusted teenage like with good grades. But it is such an act. It made me nervous to think that kids could be that deceitful and manipulative. If you’ve read Lamott’s nonfiction you can see bits of conversations throughout this novel that makes you wonder if she lifted them straight from the quirky, loyal band of friends she surrounds herself with.
“This World We live In” a YA novel by Susan Beth Pfeffer
The two protagonists from her first two novels meet in this one a year after the moon has been knocked off its orbit. The world they live in now doesn’t have school, food is scarce, sunlight and blue skies are memories and neighbors have either died or moved on. I read it in one sitting, yet again feeding my obsession with these types of catastrophic scenarios.
“American Short Fiction” literary journal, Spring 2010
I bought this because of the first sentence of the first story, “Acrobat”: The day my husband left me, I followed a trio of acrobats around the city of Paris. How could you not want to read the rest of this story? I loved it. In fact I loved it so much that I wanted to read more by her and discovered that I have her story collection on my bookshelf already. The last story, “Carry Me Home, Sisters of Saint Joseph” by Marie-Helene Bertino had me laughing out loud in spots. Told by a sister at the convent that the tomatoes liked to be spoken to Ruby gives it a shot: I feel the nerves of a newcomer at a party, trying to make small talk with a person I’ve just met. “How you bitches doin?” I say. I want to read more by her as well but she doesn’t’ have a book out yet but when she does I’m sure to pounce on it.