Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Book Review Club (March 2012)

Welcome to our March Book Review Club!
Actually, welcome to the THIRD YEAR of our Book Review Club! That's right. This is meeting #37. Whew. Scads of good reviews in store for you below. Happy Perusing!


THE NEWS FROM DUBLIN: NEW IRISH SHORT STORIES
edited by Joseph O'Connor, March 2011

It's the month of St. Patrick's Day. I was in the mood for short stories. Put those two thoughts together, and you've got how I ended up reading NEW IRISH SHORT STORIES.

It's an eclectic anthology. There are stories written by men and stories written by women. Stories by well-known authors and others by newly published authors. Most of the settings are in Ireland, but not all. Some humorous stories, some serious. A couple that are out there, and a couple that are predictible. Most I liked; a few I didn't. All this to say... NEW IRISH SHORT STORIES has something for everyone.

One of my favorite offerings was ONE OF THOSE STORIES by Anthony Glavin. This is a story about hearing a story about someone and how certain stories, like this one, can have a huge impact on you, can touch you in a core sort of way. I realize how vague this sounds, but bear with me.

The narrator is a guy, a painter actually, and he's over at his friends' home. The three of them, our narrator, Fergal and Fergal's wife Noreen are preparing the food for a dinner party. Fergal tells the story to the narrator while the two are "at the cooker where we had started on the first bottle of Rioja." Now, at this point, we as readers aren't privy to the story. Over the course of the dinner party, we learn more about our narrator along with bits and pieces about Fergal, Noreen and the other four dinner guests. By the end of the evening, after the coffee and cheese, we know enough about everyone that we're very ready to hear the story. That is, we're invested enough to care.

The set-up was impeccable. My breath caught in my throat when I finally "heard" the story. It was as though I were a guest at the dinner party, too. I loved the way the narrator spoke to me as if we were friends, as if he were explaining things to me, just enough so that I'd fit in. Add to that all the exquisite details: "As he (Fergal) added the butter beans to the paella, Noreen...chatted with the first of the two couples to arrive." And then add the delightful turns of phrases: "...Henry used to bring them (his children) into Birchall's (a bar/restaurant) the odd Saturday or Sunday, buy them a mineral and crisps.." Quite frankly, the whole story within a story, all within the space of a short story, was brilliant.

I googled Mr. Glavin and discovered he wrote a novel, NIGHTHAWK ALLEY. I'll read it.

Now please click through to everyone else's reviews. You'll be so glad you did.

MIDDLE GRADE/YOUNG ADULT BOOK REVIEWS

Stacy Nyikos: WAITING TO FORGET by Sheila Kelly Watch (Middle Grade)

Staci of Life in the Thumb: THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner (Middle Grade, Science Fiction)

Alyssa Goodnight of the Writers' Road Less Traveled: A BREATH OF EYRE by Eve Marie Mont (Young Adult)

Sarah Laurence: THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green (Young Adult)

ADULT BOOK REVIEWS

Ellen Booraem of Freelance Ne'er-do-well: SNUFF by Terry Pratchett (Fantasy)

Patti Abbott: THE ODDS by Stewart O'Nan

Linda McLaughlin: LOST HORIZON by James Hilton (Science Fiction)

Scott Parker: THE JOHN CARTER OF MARS TRILOGY by Edgar Rice Burroughs (Science Fiction)

Sarahlynn of Yeah, but Houdini didn't have these hips: GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT by Laura Zametkin Hobson

Jody Feldman: THEY DO IT WITH MIRRORS by Agatha Christie (Mystery)

NONFICTION REVIEWS

Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country: THE TROUBLE WITH BILLIONAIRES by Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks


Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!

18 comments:

Beth said...

Re: that one particular story - such a wonderful (and masterful) technique to engage the reader.
I am falling so behind with my massive TBR list, but will add this book to it!

Jenn Jilks said...

I was really interested in the book I read, The Trouble With BIllionaires.
I truly wanted to understand what it is that some find as the solution to the economy.
It helps to write it all out! Sorry for the lengthy essay!

Barrie said...

Beth: Always nice to have short stories in that pile. Oh, and this anthology is not ya. tee hee.

Barrie said...

Jenn: No worries. We always love your reviews!

Ellen Booraem said...

The supernatural character in my WIP is a banshee, so this is right up my alley! I love the sound of the story you cited, Barrie...really sounds wonderful.

By the way, the Pratchett book I reviewed is intended as adult, not YA, although I don't think there's a thing in it a teenager wouldn't love.

Barrie said...

Oops, thanks, Ellen. I switched your link to the adult section.

Alyssa Goodnight said...

That does sound like a great short story. I just finished reading an Agatha Christie, THE MYSTERIOUS MR. QUIN, which was really several stories within stories. I think it takes quite a talent to do a short story well.

Great review!

Barrie said...

Hi Alyssa! Jody Feldman reviewed an Agatha Christie mystery this month. Oh, and I agree--there's a real art to writing a good short story.

Sarah Laurence said...

Wow, has it really been three years? I've been struck, over the years, about how broadly you read. Thanks for telling us about a new collection and hosting.

Barrie said...

Sarah: And I've been struck by how thoroughly you review.

Linda McLaughlin said...

Barrie, glad you enjoyed the stories, esp. the one by Glavin. The Irish are wonderful storytellers.

Caryn Caldwell said...

Sounds interesting! I really should read more short stories. They're perfect for when you want a full story arc but only have a little time.

Sarahlynn said...

I was late, but I finally made it (by mid-afternoon).

Thanks so much for hosting us each month. And for your thoughtful reviews - and responses to our reviews.

The book of Irish short stories sounds *perfect* for this month. I'm really into short story compilations lately.

AbaGayleb said...

Wow, three years! I'm sure it has been amazing! I love when books make you feel like you're part of them. Incredible. Oh, question! Was I SO DON'T DO FAMOUS the last of the series? I've been itching to know. (:

Thanks,
AbaGayle.

David Cranmer said...

So many top book suggestions this go around. Thank you, all.

Anonymous said...

love ya momma -child #4

Lainey-Paney said...

:)
worked my kid's book fair at school today.
Your book was there! (book #2). I took a picture of your book & thought of you.
:)

Random, I know...
but true.

Reviewer11 said...

Amazing review! Great job, and I love your blog look. Awesome! I am now following you. Can't wait to read what's next. :D