From Publishers Weekly
Corrigan, the book reviewer for NPR's Fresh Air
and mystery columnist for the Washington Post,
makes her own book debut with an often longwinded and tedious account of how books have shaped her life. It's clear from every page that Corrigan is obsessed with reading books. Her compulsion is a bit far reaching, however: she offers books as the reason why she delayed getting married and why she adopted her daughter in China. She intersperses lengthy descriptions and analysis of her favorite books, like Jane Eyre, Lucky Jim
(Marie Killilea's memoir of her daughter) with stories from her own life. At times, the book reads like a feminist diatribe against the injustices female authors (and graduate students) have endured and the stereotypical portrayal of female characters. In its favor, the book allows readers to reexperience some perennial favorites, such as Pride and Prejudice
and The Maltese Falcon.
Corrigan does speak to the ability of books to provide escape and solace, and for the creation of characters we can relate to, but these few gems are buried deep in text so thick and analytical that the reader is often left gasping for air.
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Corrigan's passion for books has led her to become an English professor, a book reviewer for NPR's Fresh Air
, and the author of the Washington Post
's detective-fiction column. Corrigan now celebrates the joys of reading in a peppery narrative that blends glimpses into her personal life, especially her joy in adopting her and her husband's Chinese daughter, with smart and socially conscious literary criticism. We read, Corrigan opines, in search of authenticity, which can be found in several popular genres. The first is what Corrigan calls "the female extreme-adventure tale," fiction about the inner lives of women whose adventures often require more waiting then globe-trotting, more caring for others than daredevilry. Her examples range from Jane Austen to Anna Quindlen. The second literary gold mine is detective fiction, which she prizes for its insight into questions of class. Corrigan then considers the indelible Catholic narratives she read as a girl. Immensely likable, eclectic, and dynamic, Corrigan is as adept in her analysis of life as she is in her fresh and significant interpretations of books. Donna SeamanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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