Sweet Lamb of Heaven, by Lydia Millet

Review:

Sweet Lamb of Heaven: A Novel - Lydia Millet

Hm. Hmmm. This is a difficult book to write about as it defies easy genre placement. It has notes of thriller, horror, SF/speculative fiction, and philosophy. I chose to shelve it under “literary fiction” because I don’t see a conflict between the literary and genre elements.

Judging by the three-star average rating, most will either love or be confounded by and hate this novel. It took some warming up for me, and I have other quibbles about characterization and writing style. But when I finished the book, I wanted to jump back in and discuss it.

It’s a novel of big (and politically relevant) ideas wrapped in a domestic thriller. The story centers on a mom and her young daughter. The mother, Anna, hears a voice. Not voices, one voice, and much of the novel’s first quarter or third is spent characterizing this voice–what it is and isn’t, if not why it is at all. Then, the voice stops. Anna is relieved but still puzzled. More importantly, she has to get away from her husband, who is revealing himself to be a sociopath. She sets out on her own with her daughter and shacks up at a motel in New England. Her husband doesn’t care until he decides to run for a government office. He wants his estranged wife and kid around as political props. Anna resists but is threatened.

Interspersed with events are bits of research Anna has done on the voice–on language and communication across species, flora and fauna, on God and mental health, community and self-hood. She’s found a small community at the isolated motel, and they contribute to her understanding. The closer she comes to making sense of things, the more danger she’s in until matters reach a breaking point, not felt until she realizes just how much she’s been manipulated.

Millet is posing some big questions and making assertions that ring especially true in our new extreme-right and digital environments. I haven’t yet sorted through all the implications of the story, but I’m happy for the challenge.

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eevilalice.booklikes.com/post/1530751/sweet-lamb-of-heaven-by-lydia-millet

Sweet Lamb of Heaven, by Lydia Millet

American Housewife, by Helen Ellis

Review:

American Housewife: Stories - Helen Ellis

My first thoroughly enjoyable read of the year. Despite never having been a housewife (or wife, period) myself, I felt like this short story collection’s ideal audience. There are plenty of films and books that cover similar ground–the details, drudgery, absurdity, and even darkness of being a housewife–but Ellis manages to make the content fresh through voice and form.

All the stories made me laugh out loud or grin sardonically, from the first, brief portrait of a modern housewife, to the email exchange between two passive aggressive–and then just aggressive–ladies occupying the same building (my favorite), to the Dumpster Diving with the Stars reality show. Some stories, like the first, are flash fiction and read like prose poems to me. Others are fuller, like the ending story about contemporary novel writing in the age of sponsorship and social media. In that story and others, the horror of aspects of our culture becomes real.

Satisfying and sharp-tongued (without looking down on its characters), this collection completely won me over from the start.

Original post:
eevilalice.booklikes.com/post/1524605/american-housewife-by-helen-ellis

American Housewife, by Helen Ellis

Tournament of Books Shortlist

www.themorningnews.org/article/the-2017-tournament-of-books-shortlist-and-judges

Cripes, the Tournament of Books shortlist was announced earlier in January, and somehow I missed it!

 

I’ve read 2 out of 13, including my favorite book from 2016, We Love You, Charlie Freeman, by Kaitlyn Greenidge.Then 3 are on my wishlist, with 3 more that were maybes. The remaining 5 I either had no interest in or didn’t enjoy the samples I read. Hoping to join the conversation come March.

Original post:
eevilalice.booklikes.com/post/1523202/tournament-of-books-shortlist

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