Out Loud  / fiction

Written by Jan Kline two months 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 nine months ago

Summerlong, by Dean Bakopoulos

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 one year 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 one year 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 one year 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 one year 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 one year 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 one year 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 one year 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 one year ago

The Children Act, by Ian McEwan


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