Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book Review - A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

If you’ve ever felt a little bit lost and wondered where life will take you, Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From The Goon Squad is worth a read.

A kleptomaniac, a burnt out record producer and a group of teens discovering sex, drugs and rock n’ roll are just a few of the eclectic mix of characters in this award-winning book.

A Visit From The Goon Squad is their coming of age.

Egan writes with wit, care and humour in this interconnected collection of short stories.

She creates a tapestry of characters whose lives evolve and intersect as their stories progress.

A Visit From the Goon Squad visits each character at key turning points in their lives. It explores how we get from A to B, what can happen when life takes a detour and the impact of the passage of time.

As you move from chapter to chapter, pay close attention to the minor characters and names that are mentioned in passing. Chances are they will turn up in a major role later on.

It’s fun trying to pick the potential comebacks and discovering what has transpired between one story and the next.

Also, look out for the chapter told entirely in Powerpoint slides – surprisingly, this was my favourite chapter in the book (if only all Powerpoint presentations could be so engaging).

A Visit From The Goon Squad is the recent winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize For Fiction and the 2011 National Book Critics Award.

Would you like to read A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan?

Here’s where you can buy it online:

Book Depository US
Book Depository UK
Fishpond Australia
Amazon US
Amazon UK


*Please note: You won't pay any more if you buy this book via these links, but they will give me a small referral fee (5%).



Thank you for being part of The Reading Experiment. Happy reading!

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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Book Review - Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

Don’t be misled by the title and jacket description of this book.

They will have you believe that Caleb’s Crossing is about the first Native American to graduate from Harvard University in 1665.

Don’t get me wrong – this is central to the story and is the reason Geraldine Brooks wrote this book.

However, alongside it is the equally powerful story of the book’s narrator, Bethia Mayfield, and her detailed account of life as a woman in the mid-17th Century.

I love historical fiction and also recommend two of Brooks’ previous books:
  • People of the Book: A book lover’s delight – a book that tells the story of a centuries old book.
  • Year of Wonders: The story of an English housemaid and her village during the 1666 plague.
In Caleb’s Crossing, Brooks creates a work of fiction from scant historical fact.

She goes to great lengths to recreate the life and times of the era, when Native Americans were commonly referred to as “salvages” and women were required to live in the shadow of men.

She creates a strong contrast between the fiery spirit of Native American traditions and the sobering repression of English Puritan ways.

While I enjoyed the story of Caleb, for me, Bethia’s story was the real drawcard of this book.

As she narrates Caleb’s story and his “crossing” to English ways, Bethia also introduces us to the issues facing women of her era.

It is saddening to see her sharp wit and intelligence silenced by the prejudices of her time.

It also made me wonder: if women had been able to speak up throughout the ages, how different would the world be that we live in today?

Thank you to Sarah for recommending this book to me.

Find The Reading Experiment on Facebook here and on Twitter here.

Would you like to read Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks?

Here's where you can buy it online:

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
Book Depository
Amazon



The Reading Experiment also recommends:

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
Book Depository
Amazon




Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
Book Depository
Amazon



*Please note: You won't pay any more if you buy these books via these links, but they will give me a small referral fee (5%).

Thank you for being part of The Reading Experiment. Happy reading!