Out Loud  / fiction

Written by Jan Kline two months 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 four 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 ten 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

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

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,”

Written by Jan Kline two years 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 two years 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 two years 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