Posts Tagged Margaret Hawkins

BEST OF 2010: FICTION

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan [Knopf]
–Egan writes with impressive attention to detail and possesses the ability to craft a unique, humorous and riveting portrait of two people invested in the challenging and ever-changing music industry.

The Dissemblers by Liza Campbell [Permanent Press]
–Through lyrical prose and stimulating descriptions, Campbell deftly transports the reader to Georgia O’Keefe’s New Mexico. She propels us inside an artist’s mind and twists a complex morality tale.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender [Doubleday]
–Bender writes exquisitely. The fairy-tale magic realism propelling this novel is charming and irresistible.

Solar by Ian McEwan [Nan A. Talese]
–crazy story told with McEwan’s brilliant style [simultaneously amusing and uncomfortable] about a physicist working with alternative energy sources including wind power and solar

If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This by Robin Black [Random House]
–exquisitely crafted, eclectic collection of short stories

City of Veils by Zoe Ferraris [Little, Brown and Company]
–Ferraris illuminates the varying levels of religious devotion and the status of women in Saudi Arabia from several viewpoints. It contains plenty of twists and thought-provoking cultural situations.

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart [Random House]
–Shteyngart brilliantly describes a dystopian future with fantastically elaborate detail through emails, IM exchanges and diary entries.

This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper [Plume]
–Tropper has quickly become one of my favorite writers for his sensitive and often hilarious insight on relationships.

Small Kingdoms by Anastasia Hobbet [Permanent Press]
–beautifully crafted a complex, layered story about the abuse of a household servant in Kuwait. Moving from character to character and each individual story, Hobbet provides a rich background about life in Kuwait and the complex structure of the Middle East where class divisions remain strong, Americans and British are simultaneously despised and coveted, arcane laws and customs remain in place, yet Kuwait, compared to other Arab nations appears modern.

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi Durrow [Algonquin Books]
–provocative and creative coming-of-age in the 1980s story. Blue-eyed, mocha-skinned Rachel is the daughter of a black GI-father and a Danish mother. The sole survivor of a Chicago rooftop tragedy, the 12-year-old ends up at her boozing and opinionated grandmother’s house in Portland, Ore.

Emily Hudson by Melissa Jones [Pamela Dorman Books]
–Jones has created a rousing feminist character in Emily. She’s outspoken and likely to shun conventionality. Emily’s a bit ahead of her time. Women are supposed to be married off by a certain age and then be relegated to the kitchen and drawing room, only to come out for parties and entertaining. And to be an artist at this time? It’s rather unusual and Emily certainly meets those who doubt her talents and capability to make it out there on her own, including her dear cousin William.

How to Survive a Natural Disaster by Margaret Hawkins [Permanent Press]
–astute family drama filled with betrayal, envy, lies, discord, tragedy and forgiveness. It packs a real punch and will stay with you for days after you finish its last page.

The Wolves of Andoverr by Kathleen Kent [Reagan Arthur]
–I really liked this novel for a number of reasons. It provides a detailed, rich description of daily life in 17th century Massachusetts. Smallpox travels through the town and I’m fascinated by infectious disease and how it’s contained. Kent takes the reader to England for its civil war. And the wolves? There are two kinds of wolves in this novel and they are sneaky and vicious.

An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin [Grand Central]
–Martin delves into the complicated New York art world and particularly into the life of art dealer Lucy Yeager. Like an Edith Wharton novel, this glitzy, posh scene has its nuanced participants and sinister underbelly.

Something Redby Jennifer Gilmore [Scribner]
–Gilmore instills equal parts cheerfulness and solemnity throughout this meditative second novel. It’s a superb reflection on the connection between external events and our psyches.

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book review: How to Survive a Natural Disaster

Title: How to Survive a Natural Disaster
Author: Margaret Hawkins
ISBN: 978-1579622046
Hardcover: 198 pages
Publisher: Permanent Press (September 1, 2010)
Category: contemporary fiction
Review source: publisher
Rating: A

Thoughts on being the second, the younger, the youngest: it makes you watchful. It makes you calculate. It makes you compare.

Margaret Hawkins exquisitely details the unraveling of a disharmonious family in her second novel How to Survive a Natural Disaster. The story revolves around May, an adopted Peruvian girl, who doesn’t speak and is considered rather odd. She’s babied by her mother Roxanne and she idolizes her older sister April who excels at everything and wants nothing to do with her bizarre adopted sister. Roxanne has moved on to her second marriage with the troubled artist Craig who cheats and dabbles in various piece-meal jobs. Roxanne never had the successful art career she wanted so she married into wealth the first time around and had April. Now she clings to May in an effort to keep her family intact. April is the perfect child whose wealthy father gives her anything and everything she wants. April is also a little girl with a secret eating disorder. Hawkins tells the story from the viewpoints of May, April, Roxanne, Craig, Mr. Cosmo (the pet Weimaraner) and Phoebe, their agoraphobic neighbor. Hawkins presents this riveting story with astute observations, dark humor and honesty. Using different narrators to reveal memories makes for a stimulating and insightful read. How to Survive a Natural Disaster is an astute family drama filled with betrayal, envy, lies, discord, tragedy and forgiveness. It packs a real punch and will stay with you for days after you finish its last page.

buy at Amazon: How to Survive a Natural Disaster

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book review: A Year of Cats and Dogs

 

catsanddogsAuthor: Margaret Hawkins

Release date: October 2009

206 pp.

Publisher: The Permanent Press

The thing about living with animals is you’re never alone. When your partner your sweetie your main squeeze your baby your heart your one your only your love your life your husband your wife moves out you think you’ll go crazy or at least be lonely and you do and you are at first but then mostly you’re not. The animals close in around you, good company that keeps you busy and warm in bed, and they are never critical.

When I left my job five years ago, feeling like the walls were closing in on me, I immediately started taking classes toward a nursing degree. Basically I segued from one unhappy situation to a highly stressful situation and nearly had a mental breakdown. In A Year of Cats and Dogs, Maryanne leaves her rather dreary day job with every intention of living off her savings and doing “nothing” for a while. She’s 49-years-old and recently divorced, which has proved rather stressful of late, and she feels that she deserves this sort of break from reality and routine. She figures she’ll be happier on her own timeclock. Maryanne approaches her life in a very Zen way. Things are going to happen and she cannot change the outcome but she can make everything more bearable, more enjoyable, and more entertaining in some manner. She finds that animals can communicate with her through telepathy [she’s basically an “animal whisperer”]. This special talent leads to a job at the animal shelter and a romance with the veterinarian. Maryann also finds out that her father, who she cooks dinner for every week, has late-stage prostate cancer. Though she is surrounded by death, Maryann finds hopefulness in her own life. A Year of Cats and Dogs reads like a memoir instead of a novel as debut author Margaret Hawkins uses coin throws from the Chinese book of changes, I Ching, as headers for each chapter and intersperses comforting recipes throughout the book. A Year of Cats and Dogs is a quirky, engaging story about resilience, empathy and love.

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