Book Review

Book Review: Lionel Asbo: State of England

Sep 10, 2012

Although Martin Amis’s new novel, Lionel Asbo: State of England, has received mixed reviews, it would be hard to argue that it lacks vividly drawn characters, a compelling storyline, or distinctive prose. Perhaps the legitimate complaint is that the title character, Lionel Asbo, falls a bit short on charm.

Being a parent can be a thankless job. Jonathan Evison explores the parent/child relationship in his new novel, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving. Through the intersecting lives of his characters, he challenges the definition of a “good” parent.

Book Review: The Family Corleone

Aug 13, 2012

In his novel The Godfather, Mario Puzo used his life in New York, his penetrating imagination, and some kind of exotic material for polishing prose to reveal the world of the Mafia. In that world, the reader observes the coming of age of Michael Corleone, as he reluctantly confronts his complicated fate as a gangster. This leads him down the path to self-betrayal.

Pauls Toutonghi has a way with words. He writes about the unique circumstances surrounding smart, quirky, and loveable characters. At Watermark, we found his first novel, Red Weather, so endearing that we named a sandwich after it. Toutonghi’s newest book, Evel Knievel Days, features a protagonist named Khosi Saqr from Butte, Montana—Evel Knievel’s hometown. Khosi is an obsessive-compulsive Egyptian-American trying to find his identity. Well, half of his identity, anyway.

Book Review: Gold

Jul 16, 2012

With the London games looming, it’s difficult not to catch Olympic fever. After reading Chris Cleave’s Gold, I’ll be paying closer attention to the cycling events. Sprint. Individual pursuit. These were the races vividly portrayed in this story about Zoe, Kate and Jack: three cyclists who met each other on the same day when they were 19; and how their odd little triangle of love and friendship developed over the next 13 years, through victories and defeats in Athens, Beijing, and potentially London.

Book Review: Beautiful Ruins

Jul 2, 2012

Jess Walter’s novel, Beautiful Ruins, is entertaining, but the work seems scattered because the author has so many people and narrative styles running through it that the reader loses sight of a main character.

I’m a sucker for a good prep school story. I’m not sure if it’s the promise of knowledge there for the taking, secret societies, or general student angst that usually leads me to those books, but there was something unique about Elizabeth Percer’s debut novel, An Uncommon Education. The education of Percer’s brilliant protagonist, Naomi Feinstein, was not provided by private boarding schools. Her “preparatory” education came from her father, who recognized early that his daughter could remember everything she ever read.

One beautiful thing about reading is the travel it allows. Through books, you can visit other times, places, or even dimensions. In “The Chaperone,” Laura Moriarty takes us to the far reaches of Douglas Avenue, Winfield, McPherson and New York City.

Laura Moriarty’s first three books were set in Kansas towns, all based on times and places she actually lived. With her latest book she takes a leap backwards to 1922 Wichita, when soon-to-be silent film star Louise Brooks was 15-years-old, heading off to New York City for the first time.

Book Review: Home

May 21, 2012

Even though Frank Money lived in Lotus, Georgia since he was four, he never considered the town his home. According to Frank, “Nobody in Lotus knew anything or wanted to learn anything.” Left to their own devices, Frank and his friends roamed the unpaved streets and countryside with Frank’s little sister Cee in-tow, biding their time until they could leave Lotus for good. That opportunity came for the boys when they enlisted to fight in the Korean War. Cee’s opportunity presented itself later when she took off with a stranger—who took off with her car.

Book Review: Sacre Bleu

May 7, 2012

When an author goes on a book tour, he might fall into a routine that sounds something like this:
• Fly into a city.
• Go from airport to hotel.
• Go from hotel to bookstore.
• Read from your book.
• Return to hotel.
• Fly out in the morning.

When Christopher Moore goes on book tour, he adds one more step.
• Spend some time at the local art museum.

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