WHIRL (What Have I Read Lately) Books is a site for readers to find books for themselves and their book clubs. Liz at Literary Masters runs book groups and literary salons where we "dig deep" into literary treasures.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Should Your Book Club Read Schroder by Amity Gaige?

Hmm...well, this is a quick read, and it's one that book clubs will enjoy.  I will not be choosing it for my Literary Masters book groups, however.    I would recommend taking this novel to the beach or on an airplane, though--it's a compelling read.  The story is narrated by Schroder, aka Kennedy, who is writing some sort of apologia to his ex-wife (for one) because he kidnapped their daughter.

Here's what I liked about it: it was, as I said, a quick read, one I didn't have to exert too much brain power for, and I was in the mood for just that.  Yes, it's definitely a page-turner.  I wanted to find out how reliable the narrator Schroder/Kennedy is.  I wondered if we had a Humbert Humbert on our hands.  The narrator in this instance admits to his duplicity up front.  Hmm...is he believable?  Is he forgivable

I liked that I really entered the head of Schroder/Kennedy.  I think the author does a good job there.  And I felt his love for his daughter, and hers for him.

Here's what I would have liked more of: the bit about silences and pauses, and poetic reversals.  I think she could have fleshed this out much, much more and developed a much more literary novel.

I wish I knew more about Schroder's childhood and relationship with his parents.  Although the author touches on the narrator's background, she doesn't give enough information to fully or convincingly explain the psychological reasons for what he is doing. 

I wish I knew more about Schroder/Kennedy's relationship with his ex-wife.  Again, we get a bit of that, but much more would have illuminated the motives of the narrator/kidnapper and would have gotten this reader, at least, more invested in the story.  We don't get her perspective at all--or minimally, anyway--so the story feels rather flat.

I think the author has the bones of a great novel here, but I don't think she layered those bones with enough muscle, sinew, and flesh to make it a literary book.  I feel like when I try to "dig deep," I hit the skeleton pretty quickly, and that is that--on to the next book.

I do love the name Amity Gaige, though. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Congrats to the Winners of the Windham Campbell Prize!

According the website of the Windham Campbell Prize, "The Donald Windham Sandy M. Campbell literature prizes at Yale University recognize emerging and established writers for outstanding achievement in fiction, non-fiction, and drama."  (For more info on the prize, click here.)  So, many congratulations to:

  • Tom McCarthy
  • James Salter
  • Zoe Wicomb
  • Adina Hoffman
  • Jeremy Scahill
  • Jonny Steinberg
  • Stephen Adly Guirgis
  • Tarell Alvin McCraney
  • Naomi Wallace

Saturday, March 2, 2013

National Book Critics Circle Award--the Winners!

The National Book Critics Circle Award winners have been announced, and once again, Literary Masters book groups are ahead of the curve!  Our choice for this month is Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain, which just won the award in the fiction category--yahoo!!!

For more on the awards, click here.