Tuesday, October 23, 2012


NW? Zadie Smith’s new novel? I waited seven years for you. Now that we have finally spent a few days together what am I left with?  Was it worth the weight? I say yes.
NW is not straight forward storytelling and good thing because given the story I could have thought I was reading a Jodi Picoult novel. Two girls, different classes, different ethnic groups,  different side of the tracks, societal issues, race issues, questions about marriage, parenthood and career, then people grow up. It’s the kind of story that when you compare the basic elements of the plot you know that this is a tale that is published every day but none of those books are written like NW.

The novel is stylized but not at all inaccessible. This is not two girls waiting for Godot. It’s very readable. There are the Big Life Events you expect for this type of an over the years, coming of age novel but they are not always presented in the way that we are used to. NW is more challenging than experimental. There is nothing in Smith’s technique that’s style over substance but there is a shuffling timeline and nontraditional storytelling that make good use of her excellent writing skills and do require the reader’s attention.
I like the way Smith writes. In contradiction to the plot (And how many 1000’s of novels fall into the same category an NW? Should I even be quibbling about that? Am I only doing so because Smith has taught me to expect so much from her? ) the writing in NW is ambitious. Smith’s play with structure is intriguing and creative.  Her ear for dialog and her dissection of London are brilliant. This is a big picture novel where ideas are in play and Zadie Smith manipulates it all.

 P.S. What do you think of the eye chart cover? Boring I say.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bring Up The Accolades

Hilary Mantel won the Man Booker again! She is one of only three people to ever win it twice and the only woman to ever do so. She is the only person to ever win for the first two novels in a planned trilogy AND she is my girl! And Bring Up The Bodies deserves to win.

 Go Hilary!!!

I cannot wait for book 3 in the Thomas Cromwell trilogy!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Telegraph Avenue

One of the constants in Michael Chabon’s novels, aside from excellence, is his obsession with pop culture.  This has never been so much in evidence as in his new novel, Telegraph Avenue. You are never more than a couple sentences removed from another pop culture reference. However as the pop quotient has been ratcheted up in this new novel, the overall success of the story is a little down. That being said Telegraph Avenue is still worth reading but maybe you’re left not quite as satisfied as you have been with his previous novels?

Telegraph Avenue and the surrounding area is home to a varied lot including the business that is at the heart of novel and the soul of the community, Brokeland Records. The store is a poor but honest, sad but true, mod kid kind of place, a second hand record store.  As for the citizens think modern Frank Capra; the novel has the same positives and the same cynicism as in one of his movies.  Eccentricities rule, most people are basically good hearted (especially if they live paycheck to paycheck) and The Man could stick it to you at any time. As is usual in this Chabon novel the characters are treated with affection and are very well developed but you have seen them before. That isn’t usually the case with Chabon.

What I enjoyed the most about Telegraph Avenue was the sprawl. Watching Chabon manipulate the ever widening, deepening and intertwining storylines that build right from the beginning in this novel is pure pleasure. For me this is Chabons’ greatest strength and biggest appeal.  He has the talent and the smarts to build a world with its own defined history and relationships.