Category: Literature

Songbirds by Christy Lefteri

Exceptionally moving novel that spotlights the harms of a practice that most people don’t even like to think about. I can seriously say that in all my years of reading, I’ve encountered maybe one entire other work of fiction that’s addressed this issue with honesty and compassion, Ovidia Yu’s terrific Meddling And Murder. That said, …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2021/08/19/songbirds-by-christy-lefteri/

What You Can See from Here by Mariana Leky

Hey, Doug, I’m reading a novel translated from the German! Ably translated into English by Tess Lewis, who’s done a really good job, in particular, of getting the song lyrics from the 1980s not quite right when the characters are explaining them to one another. What You Can See From Here is an interesting sort …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2021/06/22/what-you-can-see-from-here-by-mariana-leky/

The Portrait Of A Mirror by A. Natasha Joukovsky

As someone who cherishes the idea of eventually writing fiction professionally one day, it is 100% infuriating to read books like this, books so elegant, so intelligent, so perfect and modern that it makes any effort I could possibly make feel superfluous. Having a healthy ego, I will get over my sheer envy in days, …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2021/06/07/the-portrait-of-a-mirror-by-a-natasha-joukovsky/

Slingshot by Mercedes Helnwein

I found this book shockingly, uncomfortably relatable, and would fight anyone to defend its heroine, the precocious 15 year-old Gracie Welles. I, too, was sent to a “prestigious” boarding school at that age by a well-meaning dad who didn’t really understand the realities of what I needed to survive it, and I too spent countless …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2021/04/27/slingshot-by-mercedes-helnwein/

Wintering Out by Seamus Heaney

Wintering Out by Seamus Heaney

Wintering Out struck me as even more oblique than Door into the Dark, and I often struggled to see and hear what Heaney was connecting with. Not that they have to be something that I can find on first reading, or even second or third. Wintering Out has the first appearance of Tollund Man, a …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2021/03/07/wintering-out-by-seamus-heaney/

Writers & Lovers by Lily King

At this point in my experience with Lily King, I know what to expect: a meticulously rendered milieu with quietly simmering emotions that are universal despite the very specific circumstances and locales of our narrators, and then BAM! a figurative punch to the face, and then the throat, and then the solar plexus, rendering this …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2020/12/04/writers-lovers-by-lily-king/

Bluebeard’s First Wife by Ha Seong-nan

Happy December, everyone! Let’s start the month with a chilling read! I have a bad habit of not remembering why I picked up certain volumes, not helped by the often considerable lag time between me deciding I want to read a book and me actually getting the opportunity to read it. So I vaguely recall …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2020/12/02/bluebeards-first-wife-by-ha-seong-nan/

The Story of Flamenca: The First Modern Novel, Arranged from the Provencal Original of the Thirteenth Century by William Aspenwall Bradley

What a delightful thing to read in the lead up to Valentine’s Day. Being both thrifty and impatient, I actually read the online copy for free at The Hathi Trust digital library, as the original came out in 1922 and is yet unavailable for e-reader. Since I’ve been listening to Rosalia’s El Mal Querer on …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2020/02/12/the-story-of-flamenca-the-first-modern-novel-arranged-from-the-provencal-original-of-the-thirteenth-century-by-william-aspenwall-bradley/

Normal People by Sally Rooney

I expected more. While well-written — in the sense that, as with real life, the moments of sublime beauty are interspersed with observations of banal minutiae — it’s essentially a deep dive into the mind of a young, heterosexual white couple. Marianne is a girl from a rich, abusive family. She’s unpopular in the Carricklea …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2020/01/18/normal-people-by-sally-rooney/

Molotov’s Magic Lantern by Rachel Polonsky

Molotov's Magic Lantern

Early on in Molotov’s Magic Lantern Rachel Polonsky quotes Osip Mandelstam as saying “Ask me for my biography, and I will tell you the books I have read.” (p. 6) From that perspective, Polonsky braids three biographies. One is Vyacheslav Molotov, erstwhile foreign minister of the Soviet Union whose former apartment a banker friend of …

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/12/30/molotovs-magic-lantern-by-rachel-polonsky/