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Robert Earle's Blog

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Aug.23.2013
Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies is a collection of short stories that focus on Indians, sometimes living in India, sometimes living in that great repository of exiles, the United States, where the smells and sounds and social chatter are unfamiliar and no one knows how to really cook. The...
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Aug.21.2013
Talk Talk by T.C. Boyle is an animated, vigorously written story about identity theft related in the third person from both the victims' and perpetrator's point of view. The strongest part of the novel is the opening, wherein Dana, who is deaf, finds herself not only abused by her cynical...
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Aug.17.2013
Restless by British novelist William Boyd is splendid tale of two tales woven together in which a cagey, adventuresome elderly mother uses her equally intelligent and strong-willed daughter to exact revenge on a man who wronged her--and many others--during his days as a Russian double agent in...
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Aug.14.2013
Conjugal Love by Alberto Moravia is a short, intense, somewhat claustrophobic novel about a wealthy man who wants to be a writer and who wants his new wife, a good bit earthier and more idealistic than him, to serve as his muse.  They decide to hide away in the Tuscan hills for a while where...
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Aug.12.2013
Francine Prose's novel, My New American Life, has one of the worst covers I have ever seen on a book by a serious American writer. It is a picture of a rosy-cheeked girl in a marching band uniform playing a drum. She has a big smile on her face and wears a hat with a leather brim and an eagle...
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Aug.11.2013
  Sunset Park is a neighborhood in western Brooklyn, New York, where four young people are squatting in an abandoned house.  The central figure among them is Miles Heller, who has severed ties with his father and mother from his late teens to his mid-twenties and is on the verge of...
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Aug.08.2013
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel is such an excellent piece of historical fiction that a short review, simply saying, "Read it!", might be the best review.  Mantel's novel focuses on Thomas Cromwell, ultimately chief advisor to English King Henry VIII, and his rivals within Henry's court.  The...
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Jul.30.2013
The End of the Tether by Joseph Conrad demonstrates again his mastery of prose fiction forms. In this case Conrad has written a novella about a sea captain named Whalley who has had a financial disaster at the end of a distinguished career. All he wants is to leave his only daughter some money to...
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Jul.23.2013
  House of Meetings by Martin Amis is a convincingly bitter memoir by the survivor of one of Stalin's slave labor camps above the Arctic Circle. It's full of biting insight, distinctive characterizations, and an ongoing sense of ambivalence about life itself and life in Russia in particular....
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Jul.19.2013
Ancient Light by John Banville is a lyrical novel, often beautifully written, that loosely meditates on oedipal scenarios.  The main such scenario is the narrator's affair, at fifteen, with a woman who is thirty-five.   This is improbable but Banville's narrator--now an actor in his...
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Jul.15.2013
Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel García Márquez is a short, sweet, rich novella reflecting the dilemmas of a nonagenarian who ought to be old enough to die but instead falls in love.   With whom?  With a virgin he requests from a trusted madam whom he can't bring himself to...
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Jul.13.2013
Russell Banks is a good, serious writer, which raises the interesting question of how he could have written a book as disappointing and unpersuasive as his novel, The Reserve.   The Reserve is large tract of forest, lakes, and mountains controlled by very wealthy families who are, by the...
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Jul.10.2013
  Anatomy of a Disappearance by Hisham Matar is an enjoyable, well-written short novel that tells the tale of a boy whose father is snatched away from their life in exile by, apparently, Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in Libya.   The Libya connection is never spelled out explicitly, but the...
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Jul.08.2013
Palace of Desire, the second volume of the Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mafouz, offers all the earthy, contradictory vanity, hypocrisy, and religiosity of Palace Walk, volume one. More a chronicle than a novel, Palace of Desire focuses hard on one overarching theme: the way Egyptian men of modest...
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Jul.03.2013
Death with Interruptions is the first novel by José Saramago I've read. As always there's no reason why I haven't read his work except that I've been been busy reading other stuff.   This is a novel that reads somewhat like Kafka, somewhat like Paul Auster,  and somewhat like Don DeLillo...
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