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Reviewletts: Awesome Contemporary Fiction

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In an effort to maybe, perhaps, hopefully get caught up on all the books I haven’t reviewed, I’m planning to start doing mini-reviews every couple of weeks for books that I read but didn’t have much to say about. If you have more specific questions about any of this week’s titles, leave them in the comments!

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

Many, many bloggers that I respect have deeply loves Tayari Jones’ Silver SparrowI’m afraid my feelings weren’t so unequivocally positive. The book starts out with a awesome premise: one man with two wives, each with a daughter. The second wife and daughter know about the first family, and have grown up in the shadow of two women they keeps tabs on but have never met. The story is beautifully sad in the sense that Jones reveals ways these two families could co-exist and the tragedy that brought them to their current state, but I never connected with the characters as much as I wanted to.

Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy

If there is only one thing that I want to say about Simon Van Booy’s Everything Beautiful Began After, it’s that Van Booy writes with incredible style. If you took a paragraph from this book and set it next to any other book, you’d clearly be able to pick out which is which. A sample:

Athens is a world of despair and sudden beauty.

And it was from these two conflicting moods that Rebecca found her way as a woman.

It wasn’t long before she loved the city.

And the ability to love Athens, like all love, lies not in the city but in the visitor.

The city matched Rebecca at every turn. Her books reflected in the things that took place around her — things that she noticed: a cigarette vendor giving bits of fish to cats, a sudden shower of rain, deformed children sitting calmly on the steps of churches as their mothers shook their fists at God and then opened them to passing tourists.

Rebecca felt a physical part of the city, and sensing such blind devotion, it embraced her as its own.

Van Booy’s use (maybe overuse) and grand metaphors takes a little while to get used to, but I was quickly drawn into this story of a tragic love triangle and just devoured the book. I highly recommend this one. I loved it.

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

I read Rules of Civility sitting on a Zero Gravity lounger — the world’s most comfortable lawn chair — at my cabin, looking out at the lake. I think that was the perfect setting for this book, the story of one young woman making her way through the high society of New York in the late 1930s. The protagonist, Katy Kontent, is truly delightful and self-aware and so fun to cheer. I read this one in a bit of a blur, so I’m afraid I don’t remember many more specifics… but I am excited its out in paperback so I can buy my own copy soon.

Disclosure: I recieved a copy of Everything Beautiful Began After during my trip to Book Expo America this year. I bought a copy of Silver Sparrow. I borrowed a copy of Rules of Civility from my local library. 

Photo Credit: albertogp123 via Flickr

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • bermudaonion(Kathy) July 20, 2012, 5:45 am

    It sounds like I need to start Everything Beautiful Began After.

    • Kim July 21, 2012, 11:37 am

      His writing is just so lovely and distinctive. I can’t wait to read more of it.

  • angela July 20, 2012, 9:50 am

    I have heard such great things about Rules of Civility. I really need to pick that up.

  • Jeanne July 20, 2012, 12:19 pm

    I think I will have to check out Van Booy when that book gets to my library.

  • Emma @ Words And Peace July 20, 2012, 3:27 pm

    Yes! I read Everything Beautiful Began After last August and was amazed by the beauty of the writing. here is my review: http://wordsandpeace.com/2011/08/12/review-62-everything-beautiful-began-after/

  • Trisha July 21, 2012, 7:28 am

    Everything Beautiful Began After is on my to-read list. Van Booy sort of hooked me with his nonfiction like Why Our Decisions Don’t Matter.

    • Kim July 21, 2012, 11:37 am

      I haven’t read his nonfiction yet, but if it is anywhere near as lovely as this book, I am sure I will love it.

  • Nikki Steele July 21, 2012, 8:13 pm

    I suppose I’m echoing everybody else–the Van Booy book is on my list. I’m a sucker for grand metaphors, sometimes especially when they’re overdone. Seems like you got to read the spectrum when it came to writing styles for these three books. Great post!

    • Kim July 29, 2012, 8:27 pm

      Yes, absolutely. They were all great, but very different. I love when that happens.

  • Julie Merilatt July 23, 2012, 7:56 am

    I can’t believe I’ve put off Simon’s book for so long. Time to prioritize… Sorry about your grandpa 🙁

    • Julie Merilatt August 9, 2012, 6:58 am

      Finally started Everything Beautiful… yesterday and already 300 pages in, they went by so fast! Incredible.

  • Andi (@estellasrevenge) July 25, 2012, 3:50 pm

    I’m sooooo glad you liked the Van Booy. It does take a bit to settle in, but I found it incredibly unique and lovely.

    • Kim July 29, 2012, 8:20 pm

      The style is very… stylish, I guess. At first the big metaphors were a little annoying, but I really grew to love them.