Out Loud  / Book Reviews

Written by Jan Kline a few weeks ago

White Tears, by Hari Kunzru

For a book that has the word “white” in the title, this one is darker than dark. It starts with Seth, a young narrator who glancingly mentions his former mental problems. A music geek, he obsessively (but unobtrusively) records ambient

Written by Jan Kline three months ago

Mister Monkey, by Francine Prose

Francine Prose has written everything from a study of the impact of Anne Frank’s diary, to a guide to reading like a writer, to a wildly varied stack of novels. A former president of PEN, a finalist for the National

Written by Jan Kline nine months ago

The Wangs vs. the World

The breathing space between the relative-intensive holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas seems like an appropriate time to read a family road trip saga. The Wangs vs. the World is one of the most satisfying books in this genre that I’ve

Written by Jan Kline one year ago

The Girls, by Emma Cline

This book was as good as a time machine. It captured not just the trappings and look of late 60s and early 70s California pop counterculture, but the emotions as well. No, I didn’t fall into a cult, do heavy

Written by Jan Kline one year ago

Family Money: Two New Comic Novels

Money, while a part of modern life, has a way of complicating family relationships, especially when there are large amounts of it in play. I’ve recently read two novels that have the issue of family money running through them. The

Written by Jan Kline one year ago

The Portable Veblen, by Elizabeth McKenzie

The main character in this book is one of the most specific and memorable I’ve encountered in a while. Veblen Amundsen-Hovda is an underachiever (despite her high intelligence, college degree, and fluency in Norwegian, she’s doing temporary clerical work at

Written by Jan Kline one year ago

Summerlong, by Dean Bakopoulos

It’s probably the most inappropriate time of year possible to read a novel set in the middle of a heat wave in the steamy midwest, but right before Christmas was when I happened to discover this one. It starts with

Written by Jan Kline two years ago

Two Excellent Debut Novels about Family

The holidays have a way of reminding us about family: the ones we are born into (and sometimes flee from), and the ones we choose. I’ve recently read two very different first novels that center around this theme. Aaron Englund,

Written by Jan Kline two years ago

Purity, by Jonathan Franzen

Jonathan Franzen has a way of pissing some people off. Popular author Jennifer Weiner, for example, has been in a feud with him for years, and invented the term “Franzenfreude,” defined as “the frustration with literary critics’ apparent preference for

Written by Jan Kline two years ago

Your Face in Mine, by Jess Row

It’s hard to believe that this book came out almost a year before the Rachel Dolezal controversy. In what novelist Karen Russell calls “a postcard from the near future,” Jess Row has written a riveting novel about “racial reassignment surgery,”

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