Clearing My Shelves Mini-Reviews: The Fiction Edition

March 3, 2021 Uncategorized 8 ★★★

Clearing My Shelves Mini-Reviews: The Fiction EditionTitle: God Loves Haiti
Author: Dimitry Elias Léger
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

I really enjoyed most of this book, but I knocked a star off for how much I disliked the ending. The bulk of this story about the 2010 earthquake in Haiti was an impressive blend of dark humor and sincere human emotion. The many ways people reacted to tragedy felt true-to-life. The dark humor was used to great effect to comment on Haitian politics and history. As someone who knew little about Haiti previously, I was given enough context that I felt I could follow this commentary. I also enjoyed the use of religious imagery. It was a clear theme that was easy to pick up on and, if I’m totally honest, that made me feel like a good reader. The ending was the only let down. It wasn’t clear exactly what happened. What was revealed didn’t feel believable to me and without an explanation of how we got there from here, the ending didn’t work for me.

Clearing My Shelves Mini-Reviews: The Fiction EditionTitle: The Small Backs of Children
Author: Lidia Yuknavitch
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

There was very little I liked about this book. There were rare glimpses of beautiful, heartbreaking writing about tragedy. Other than that, there was little to recommend this story of a young woman photographed in a war torn country and the artists obsessed with her. The story has a whole didn’t make much sense and relied on several coincidences. Parts of this were gimmicky or literary in ways I enjoyed. Mostly it felt pretentious to me and many of the gimmicks didn’t land. There was a lot of graphic imagery, including brutal violence and often equally brutal sex. I didn’t feel like all of it added to the story. Some of it wasn’t even believable. Parts felt not just factually incorrect, but lacked the emotional truth fiction can capture. I’m willing to read about trauma if I feel like I’m learning something about the world. In this book, there wasn’t that pay off.

Clearing My Shelves Mini-Reviews: The Fiction EditionTitle: The Lost Diary of M
Author: Paul Wolfe
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

I always feel bad being grumpy in two book reviews in a row, but not much about this book worked for me either! I prefer historical fiction that largely follows historical fact, at least for the major beats of the story. This book about Mary Pinchot Meyer, a staunch peace advocate having an affair with JFK, goes full on conspiracy theory, making up explanations for JFK’s murder. It’s equally imaginary in the small details. Little is known about Mary Meyer, so the details of her life and daily interactions were barely fact-inspired. This supposedly feminist story largely hinges on Mary’s relationships with men. Nearly nothing happens. Her voice in her diary wasn’t convincing. It front-loaded salacious details and included flash backs that felt like parts of a novel, but not part of a someone’s personal diary. There were parts where I enjoyed Mary’s brash character and some of the ‘celebrity sightings’ in her life were amusing. Otherwise, I don’t have much good to say about this one.

8 Responses to “Clearing My Shelves Mini-Reviews: The Fiction Edition”

    • DoingDewey

      Haha, I feel I might have gotten your hopes up too much, because it wasn’t exciting, just unbelievable. SPOILER TO FOLLOW…

      So, the whole book is about this love triangle involving a married woman and somehow, after a fade to black, she’s decided to be a nun and both the husband and lover are totally OK with this. It was very strange and I found it neither understandable nor satisfying.

  1. Liz Dexter

    Lovely honest thoughts, thank you! I just gave up on a novel as I disliked the central character and could see the dog was being used just to add some peril. Gr.

    • DoingDewey

      Thanks, Liz! I hate when author’s put animals in peril just to make the story more exciting. Actually, I pretty much always hate stories where bad things happen to animals, but in some books, it feels more justified by the story than it does in others.

  2. Rennie

    The Lost Diary of M sounds really disappointing. I hate anything that goes full-on conspiracy theory without any foundation…let’s not encourage that kind of speculation, seriously. I’ve heard a lot of praise Lidia Yuknavitch’s memoir but the novel sounds disappointing too, what a bummer!

    • DoingDewey

      Yes! I agree completely. No reason to make up new conspiracy theories, when so many are already floating around. I feel like I’d heard a lot of good things about Yuknavitch’s The Small Backs of Children, but honestly, I think it might have been too literary and experimental for me. It definitely wasn’t my thing!

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