Cindy's blog

For All the Saints by Rebecca

It could be said that Eleanor Henderson’s debut novel Ten Thousand Saints is about ten thousand different things—addiction, adoption, family, hedonism, asceticism, AIDS, poverty, and homelessness—to name a few. A brief synopsis cannot really describe the sensory-overload of this tightly-packed 400 page novel.

Exploration (and Savagery) by Nick

I just watched Nicholas Refn’s film Valhalla Rising . I’m not quite sure what I think about it other than it seemed to be a maniacal meditation on violence and savagery. A hallucination of hellish visions and hellish men performing hellish deeds. And yet, I do not believe this disqualifies it as objectionable or that it can only be enjoyed by those with questionable tastes, or, well, psychopaths.

Leaving (and Returning) Home by Rebecca

One of my favorite novelists is Louise Erdrich. I love the way she writes about families—with unflinching honesty, but also with empathy and sensitivity. In her novels, despair exists alongside hope, and even the most broken characters are always three-dimensional. In Jean’s Thompson new book The Year We Left Home, I’ve found the closest read-alike to Louise Erdrich, yet.

Gritty suspense as a Jumpstart

I imagine it must take some training, and discipline, to become a professional art critic. Namely, a book reviewer. Aside from having an almost comprehensive knowledge base of literary art, one must exercise some semblance of professional distance from the work. It would be easy to give high marks to any work that moved you in a personal way, but it must also be important to award prestige to works that excel in their craft even if one personally disagreed with it. In a very roundabout way, I’d like compare this critics’ dilemma to becoming burnt out on fiction.

The Jane Austen Effect

A friend recently described my reading taste as “bell jar-ry,” which is spot-on. I typically like my fiction dark and dysfunctional. Domestic dramas with conflicted characters and gritty, unresolved endings are my preference—most of the time. But every so often, usually during the summer, I crave a charming romantic comedy. I call this the Jane Austen Effect. Jane Austen made me a lifelong reader, and I have happy, almost cellular, memories of reading and re-reading a worn-out Penguin classics copy of Pride and Prejudice.

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