Saturday, March 27, 2010

All Reviews- All The Time!

Let The Great World Spin
by Colum McCann
(5 Scoops)
[I was given a photocopy of the first five pages to read for a class and was so compelled by the writing that I went out and bought the book. It did not disappoint. The writing is gorgeous. Sentences so well crafted and emotionally rich that I would have to close the book momentarily and just let the words settle in me. This is not generally how I read. I usually read to get to the end; to follow a character arc through to that moment of transformation. This book wouldn't let me plow through it- there was no easy catharsis. It slowed me down- made me look at the little things, the moments that make up a life. And I am grateful for it. The writing is amazing, the characters intriguing, the setting details so specific, and the structure (multiple point of view characters whose lives intersect because of one man walking a tightrope betwixt the Twin Towers) works perfectly for the content and theme of the book.]

Destroy All Cars
by Blake Nelson
(3.5 scoops)
(I heard Blake Nelson speak at the NYC Teen Author Festival hosted by David Levithan. The panel was about taking a work though from first draft to final. I love works that experiment with structure, so I was intrigued when he said his first draft was a long, rambling 1st person manifesto and he turned it into a multiform book complete with school assignments, online questionnaires, and scenes written entirely in dialogue, as if in a play. The novel worked because the protagonist, through his interactions with women and an AP English teacher, grows and changes,he learns to be a more open and less cynical person. Because that is such a straightforward and expected plot-line, I think there was more room to play with the format. All in all, although I liked the specific character that Blake created, the book felt safe and familiar and I had really been hoping for something more original.)

Rock Star Superstar
by Blake Nelson
(3 Scoops)
(After having read Destroy All Cars I was curious to see what else Nelson had written. Rock Star Superstar started out a little slow, with a lot of the beginning of the book really feeling like it could have been back story- mentioned later as a memory if it was necessary at all. The book did seem concerned with painting a realistic life and moving us through it at a realistic speed. It reminded me of seeing a play where there are long blocks of silence while the actor's on stage make a pot of coffee or sweep the floor in an effort to show the audience that they are real people living real lives. I think this choice worked extremely well in the relationship between the protagonist and his alcoholic, present-but-emotionally-absent father, but less well in other parts of the book.)

No More Us For You
by David Hernandez
(3 scoops)
(This book initially felt like it was set in the 90's but then as it went on it had pop culture references sprinkled in it to make it seem more contemporary. It was not as dynamic as Suckerpunch, but it was still quite charming. I liked how Hernandez incorporated the Long Beach Contemporary Art Museum into his plot. There were some scenes that felt very honest, like how Carlos acted out when he was grieving, and the relationship between the two point of view characters, Carlos and Isabel, was complicated and endearing. What I appreciated the most, however, was the ending. I won't spoil it for you, but I will say that it shows that he trusts the foundation he has created and his reader.)


  1. Whoa! 5 scoops for McCann? Excellent. Oprah offered a free download of it, which I got, but I have yet to actually read it. It's now the first thing on my summer reading list.

  2. Say whatever you will about Oprah- but she's never let me down with a book recommendation. Too bad the free download offer has expired already. Here is a link to an interview with Colum McCann