Dear Readers,

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Very Short Book Reviews

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, Mary Anne Shaffer and Annie Barrows

This is a must-read for EBCs and Anglophiles alike. It is an epistolary novel about a British columnist who takes an interest in a group of Guernsey Island natives who, by accident, formed a literary society during their occupation by the Germans. It has a lot of the requisite British stuff, a cast of varied characters of various classes, mostly good-hearted. A few snobs and cads are thrown in as well. It's light in tone and form but not in content--and really more than a novel about books it's a novel about survival during World War I, including some ugly stuff about slavery and concentration camps. It's also deeply funny and romantic and full of exquisite descriptions of the characters' beloved island home, perched in the Channel waters between the UK and France. GLPPS is a lovely summer read through and through.

The Moons of Jupiter, by Alice Munro

This was my first foray into Munro, and she's just as masterful as everyone says. I've been brainwashed by VCFA into thinking from a "craft" perspective on short stories, and what she does better than anyone else I've encountered is successfully write short stories that leap forward and back through long periods of time while still feeling tightly focused. One way she's successful in doing that is by maintaining a through line of place and landscape (she writes about Canada), but another technique is just making her flashbacks and leaps forward intrinsic to the general momentum of the plot. There's no doubt I'll be reading much more of her work and thinking hard about what makes her so good.

NOTE: Due to a ginormous brain fart (and the fact that i'm catching up on reviews from months and months ago) an earlier version of this post heinously confused Alices Sebold and Munro. For this, I sincerely and humbly apologize.

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