Posts Tagged Martin Page
BEST OF 2010: FICTION
Posted by Amy Steele in Books on December 21, 2010
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.
book review: The Discreet Pleasures of Rejection
Posted by Amy Steele in Books on February 20, 2010
Title: The Discreet Pleasures of Rejection
Author: Martin Page
Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics); 1 edition (January 26, 2010)
Category: contemporary fiction
Review source: publisher
Life had never been so wonderful; he was benefiting from the effects of breaking up without any of the inconveniences. During his earlier romantic failures, his unhappiness prevented him from taking advantage of the comfort that came along with them. To really enjoy the recovery process, realized Virgil, it’s better not to be sick.
What would happen if you received a message from someone breaking up with you and you couldn’t remember ever that individual or a relationship of any kind? That’s the conundrum for neurotic advertising executive Virgil. This unsettling message, from a woman named Clara, sends Virgil on a two-week mission to find out if there’s something wrong with him and to also uncover details about the mysterious Clara. First, Virgil runs off in a panic to his psychiatrist with his answering machine in hand to get her take on what he feels is a colossal dilemma. He feels that he’s suffering from a dire condition; he has apparently erased all memories of Clara and in doing so his brain must be malfunctioning in some manner. Virgil has never been very successful with relationships.
He missed Clara. He missed the woman he couldn’t remember. For twenty-four hours he’d thought they’d had something; he’d imagined their love with sincerity. Then he’d spent a week pretending to weep over their separation. With amazement, he realized that the revelation of their non-relationship didn’t erase the construct of his attachment. As if playing at being brokenhearted actually had fractured his heart.
The Discreet Pleasures of Rejection by Martin Page is unlike any novel I’ve read. Page has a unique style and perspective that he infuses throughout the pages [perhaps because he’s French]. I found myself laughing and wanting to share passages with friends. There’s a peculiar absurdity in the story and Virgil is quite the character. He’s analytical, successful in business but not in his personal life, and befriends the hookers on his block. Virgil remains quite particular and has a penchant for retro things: black and white films, records, and an orange Bic with a black point. The Discreet Pleasures of Rejection is a refreshing novel that provides an astute commentary on navigating the dating world. The end result proves to be both hilarious and sardonic.
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