Out Loud  / fiction

Written by Jan Kline yesterday

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 months 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,”

Written by Jan Kline two months ago

The Harder They Come, by T.C. Boyle


T.C. Boyle is usually merciless towards his characters, giving a variety of viewpoints an equal opportunity skewering. This time out, I felt he betrayed a little twinge of empathy in his description of some admittedly extreme characters. He doesn’t idealize

Written by Jan Kline five months ago

Big Brother, by Lionel Shriver


Lionel Shriver’s fiction has a major streak of darkness running through it. Some of the subjects she’s covered in her past novels include teenage mass murderers, terminal illness, and European terrorism. But she usually manages to insert some (admittedly very

Written by Jan Kline six months ago

My Sister’s Keeper? All My Puny Sorrows, by Miriam Toews


Hearing the set-up for this novel made me wonder if I was made of stern enough stuff to get through it. Yoli, a divorced woman in her forties, with plenty of her own problems, has to repeatedly try to talk

Written by Jan Kline seven months ago

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, by Joshua Ferris


Offhand, the practice of preventative dentistry doesn’t seem like a portal into discussions of religion and death. And discussions of religion and death don’t seem like apt gateways to comedy, either. Leave it to Joshua Ferris (author of Then We

Written by Jan Kline eight months ago

The Burgess Boys, by Elizabeth Strout


This is one dysfunctional family, though it’s not hard to see how they ended up this way. Growing up in small-town Maine, three small children are left unattended in the family car; one of them releases the parking brake, allowing

Written by Jan Kline eight months ago

The Children Act, by Ian McEwan


For a book only slightly over 200 pages, The Children Act packs a substantial wallop.

Written by Jan Kline one year ago

Amy Falls Down, by Jincy Willett


Amy Gallup is a crotchety, misanthropic 60-year-old author and writing teacher who would strongly prefer to be left alone. At home. With her basset hound, Alphonse. (Her mantra, in Willett’s prequel, The Writing Class: Kill Me Now).

Written by Jan Kline one year ago

The Antagonist, by Lynn Coady


The novel made up entirely of letters isn’t a new form. But the email novel is a newer development — not that there aren’t already enough examples of them out there to make writing one a potentially slippery slope ending