Oh goodness, there must be something wrong with me. I assume I ended up reading Roxana Robinson's new novel Cost because of a good review. What I do, when I see a review of something I think I might like to read, is I order it from the library, and then eventually it shows up as a pleasant surprise (the branch library is at the end of our block, which makes it even more pleasurable to get the email announcing that the now-forgotten-about book is waiting for me, and then just walk down and pick it up). At any rate, the critics seem to agree that this family-deals-with-junkie-son novel is great (scroll down for links), but I found it quite abominable: faux-Woolfian over-dramatization of mundane moments and deep thoughts (my disgust reached an early peak at exactly that mayonnaise moment the Wall Street Journal highlights) crossed with Lifetime Movie of the Week. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. (I feel that I can write about it, because I did not simply abandon it, but skimmed to the end, both to find out what happened and to see if it remained as dreadful, which I truly felt it did. Then again, clearly I am wrong.)
And speaking of critics, when I read the first few paragraphs of Walter Kirn's evisceration of James Woods in today's Book Review. I thought it was a classic case of the lesser critic letting loose the flame of his jealously righteous indignation, but, truly, despite my dislike for Kirn, it is quite a fabulous evisceration, and though I haven't read this particular book, it (review and book) seems truly to capture Wood's (pedantic) spirit, and I very much agreed with Kirn's critiques viz the many projects of fiction, etc..
Oh, I was saving this for another post, but since I am sounding so negative and crotchety myself, I must let loose, myself, with my absolute passion for Rachel Seiffert's Afterwards, which is by far the best book I have read in months. On this one I believe I concur with the critics. I initially thought, when I read the reviews, that I had no interest in a book about Northern Ireland and the Mau Mau Rebellion, but don't go away! This is one of the best love stories, work stories, war stories, trauma stories I can think of (ack, must go read some Pat Barker), and the minimalist but absolutely lush prose is simply beautiful, and the other thing that is just lovely is all the biking and walking. Just go read it right now, it's that amazing.
There, I can like things, see?