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2010

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The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party
"Imaginative, enraging, thought-provoking coming-of-age story from the point of view of Octavian, a slave raised under extraordinary circumstances in pre-Colonial Boston. It will make you reexamine our precious little national founding myths. "At long last, you may no longer distinguish what binds you from what is you.""
Drift: Stories
Drift: Stories
"An uneven but moving collection of stories about the underbelly of Newport Beach. "John Wayne Loves Grandma Dot" blew me away."
On the Winding Stair: Stories (American Readers Series #12)
On the Winding Stair: Stories (American Readers Series #12)
"Uneven but strange, fantastical, and atmospheric short stories. Favorites include "Light Carried on Air Moves Less," "The Scent of Apples," and "In Guffy's Plum Cricket.""
A Short History of Women: A Novel
A Short History of Women: A Novel
"I have mixed feelings about this one. The writing is lovely, but there is not a lot of depth here."
The True Deceiver (New York Review Books Classics)
The True Deceiver (New York Review Books Classics)
"Unexpected and captivating, rich with detail and fraught with tension. The craft here is unmistakable."
Ransom: A Novel
Ransom: A Novel
"Interesting reimagining of Priam's ransom of Hector's body from Achilles. Not as good as An Imaginary Life."
Gormenghast (Book Two of the Gormenghast Trilogy)
Gormenghast (Book Two of the Gormenghast Trilogy)
"Finished at last! Titus Groan and Gormenghast are wholly unique, with more atmosphere on a single page than entire libraries have. Vivid and strange, memorable."
Tales From Outer Suburbia
Tales From Outer Suburbia
"Lovely and strange."
How I Learned To Love You From So Far Away
How I Learned To Love You From So Far Away
"Remarkable pieces of short fiction that explore the intersection between human relationships and technology. Consistently more heartfelt than showy, intelligent than gimmicky. Highly recommended."
The Girl with Glass Feet: A Novel
The Girl with Glass Feet: A Novel
"Imaginative premise and setting, details; fragile and touching romance. A bit too self-conscious and strained, though: it required some patience to get through."
Fever Dream Ghost Book
Fever Dream Ghost Book
"Intriguing short fiction."
First Love (The Art of the Novella)
First Love (The Art of the Novella)
"A moving, elegant coming-of-age."
Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets
Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets
"Ahh, these are so good it makes me crazy!"
Stitches: A Memoir
Stitches: A Memoir
"I never would have picked up this bleak memoir of childhood cancer if it was written in prose--too much potential for the kind of overwrought depression that leaves me cold. But in images, it is arresting and beautiful. I couldn't stop turning the pages."
Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing: Stories
Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing: Stories
"My heart broke eight times while reading this collection of eight stories. This is gorgeous writing--blessedly subtle but assured. The indifferent animals in these stories embody last chances to the troubled men and women who encounter and are changed by them. Each story is beautifully crafted, and whole worlds hover like ghosts behind each character."
Alice I Have Been: A Novel
Alice I Have Been: A Novel
"Eh, annoying. Returned to the library largely unread."
Ghosts (New Directions Paperbook)
Ghosts (New Directions Paperbook)
"This wasn't happening for me. Returned to the library largely unread."
I Can't Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous & Obscure
I Can't Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous & Obscure
"Most of these six-word by teenagers are pretty much what you'd expect: melodramatic, confessional, self-important. A handful rise above and make the hour-long read worthwhile."
A Dance to the Music of Time: First Movement
A Dance to the Music of Time: First Movement
"A fantastic series: intelligent, gossipy, well-written, engaging, hilarious, insightful. Very British."
Remembrance of Things Past: Combray (Remembrance of Things Past) (Vol 1)
Remembrance of Things Past: Combray (Remembrance of Things Past) (Vol 1)
"Interesting attempt to distill Proust. It made me crave the original more than anything, though."
A Dreamer's Tales
A Dreamer's Tales
"Wonderful bedtime stories, including some very lovely writing. I mean to track down his longer work."
The Debut (Vintage Contemporaries)
The Debut (Vintage Contemporaries)
"Brookner is a strong writer, but this novel is filled with unlikable, unsympathetic characters and is ultimately depressing."
Lady Susan
Lady Susan
"Fun epistolary novel centered around one wicked woman's artful manipulation of the people around her, in service of her ravenous need for attention."
Blankets
Blankets
"Lovely illustrations, but the story is not well-crafted, instead more like adolescence itself: repetitive, angsty, melodramatic (what will he burn next?), with truths only half-grasped and metaphors and insights cliched."
The Compleat Moonshadow
The Compleat Moonshadow
"Weird and hippie-dippy and strangely touching graphic novel epic. Did I say weird? Very, very weird."
The Location Scout
The Location Scout
"Fantastic, imaginative, mysterious story; I heartily recommend anything written by this talented author."
The Complete Short Novels
The Complete Short Novels
"These novellas were overwhelmingly tedious, all except the last one, My Life, which was quite touching."
Touch Anything Except Me
Touch Anything Except Me
"More wonderful short fiction from Kevin Fanning."
The Alchemist
The Alchemist
"Ugh. Heavy-handed and repetitive. I never want to hear the term "personal legend" again (I listened to the audiobook of this)."
Legend Of A Suicide (AWP Award Series in Short Fiction) (Awp Award Series in Short Fiction) (Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction)
Legend Of A Suicide (AWP Award Series in Short Fiction) (Awp Award Series in Short Fiction) (Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction)
"Stunning novella about a child, a father, a suicide, and the Alaskan wilderness. The stories provide interesting background and a conflicting version of events, but are otherwise ho-hum with pat metaphors and emotional distance."
Beatrice and Virgil: A Novel
Beatrice and Virgil: A Novel
"Intriguing short novel about a writer who helps a taxidermist with his remarkable play, featuring a howler monkey (Virgil) and a donkey (Beatrice). The play excerpts are extremely moving and worthwhile; the novel as a whole is uneven."
Asterios Polyp
Asterios Polyp
"Wonderfully original style, variety, experimentation, and use of color in this graphic novel."
The Klamath Knot: Explorations of Myth and Evolution, Twentieth Anniversary Edition
The Klamath Knot: Explorations of Myth and Evolution, Twentieth Anniversary Edition
"Lovely examination of plant and animal evolution through the lens of the Klamath bioregion (an incredibly diverse one). First rate writing."
The Arrival
The Arrival
"Magical, wordless tale of one immigrant's journey."
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
"I don't think I'd ever read Through the Looking-Glass before. Fun wordplay and logicplay, charming stories."
The Infinities (Borzoi Books)
The Infinities (Borzoi Books)
"This is a pleasant read, clever and playful and a bit mischievous like the Greek gods themselves. Banville's prose is effervescent, but the book doesn't really add up to much."
The Solitude of Prime Numbers: A Novel
The Solitude of Prime Numbers: A Novel
"Two damaged souls ("prime numbers") connect but never quite fuse as adolescents, and the idea of the other looms large in each of their lives after they part ways as adults. The ending works well, but the last third of the book lacks the hypnotic appeal of the first two-thirds."
Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy
Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy
"Interesting look at this singular, sometimes-popular art form."
Let the Great World Spin: A Novel
Let the Great World Spin: A Novel
"A sprawling, ambitious novel--by turns luminous and contrived--that charts the seemingly unlikely intersection of various everyday NYC lives on the day that Philippe Petit made his famous tightrope walk between the World Trade Center's two towers."
Burning Bright: Stories
Burning Bright: Stories
"Gritty stories of Appalachia, usually served with a twist. I wanted to like these, but I had trouble emotionally engaging."