A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
100 pages in and it is hard to miss that this isn't just a nominal sequel to Wolf Hall, but rather the first book's logical annex. There is no drop-off in complexity. No laxity of language. Still Mantel manages to shift form, change structure and reinvent her style. She even manages to give the character of Thomas Cromwell more depth and complexity, a feat which seemed near impossible after finishing Wolf Hall.
Anyway, Mantel is one of the finest writers of English prose living. Each sentence is crafted like a unique piece in an Italian inlaid music box. She has a purpose for each comma and can make words seem to dance, fall and recover right off the page. She pulls the history out of the history and has written Tower interrogations so deft and chilling, one is left afraid of both language and the law. As readers, we watch Cromwell destroy men, overthrow queens, and change history with words, paper and a sharp understanding of men's motives. We aren't afraid because Cromwell is a monster, but because he is so heroically human.
Let's just get this out in the open -- Michael Chabon is an amazing prose stylist. Occassionally, I imagine I can grow up one day and become a writer, then I read Chabon and I recognize just how HIGH that hill can be. His dexterity with the English language borders on magical. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is at once playful and soulful.
Listening to AAoK&C, I was reminded of Saul Bellow's ability to dance with language while also keeping the novel briskly centered on its well-paced story. Chabon's characters are boyantly alive, cinemagraphiclly painted, and infused a with dialogue that seems to require a high level of stereophonics (all enhanced by Colacci's amazing reading).
Even in comic books, good doesn't always win over evil, but it seems like with Chabon love still conquers all. A fantastic novel to view the 20th century through. Chabon expertly captured the colors, smells, and magic of New York. Anyway, Kavalier & Clay is a world I don't ever want to escape from.
I keep reading Cormac McCarthy to find a single crack of light in his dark, grotesque lyricism. 'Outer Dark' as a novel is unconventional and amazing. The story was allegorical without being stiff, it was regional without being provincial. Like most all of McCarthy's work, it is Biblical in its power and intensity.
In 'Outer Dark', McCarthy is throwing chert boulders at the dark center of the Universe. He isn't interested in little themes. Even in his small books he is taking on ideas as large and slippery as fate, guilt, agency, and God. Structurally, Outer Dark was drum-tight. The prose and the vernacular/archaic dialogue were both crisp and amazing. 'Outer Dark' is prose art at a high-level and it scared the literary Hell out of me.
Ardent Audible listener with a long commute!
On March 18, 1990, two thieves broke into the The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, and stole thirteen work of art, including five works by Edgar Degas - four drawings and a painting. This book imagines the trajectory of the painting, described as one in Degas' Bathers series. [The painting taken from the Gardner was not in the Bathers series.]
Claire Roth is a professional art forger, and works for the fictional reproductions. Her specialty is Degas, although she can copy other masters and genres. Claire is an artist in her own right, but she has been a pariah in the art community for three years. The reason she has been cast out is a key part of the story.
Claire is aproached by art gallery owner Adrien Markel to make a reproduction of the stolen Degas painting, and Markel promises her a one woman show in exchange.
Edward Degas, Isabella Stewart Gardner, and Gardner's great grand niece are key players.
I would listen to the narrator of this book, X.E. Sands, read a grocery list. She is just that good, and she was an ideal choice to narrate this book.
I found that the plot, although definitely a tangled web, was predictable in the last third or so. I would have liked to have known more about Gardner herself, and I hope B.A. Shapiro writes more about her, either fiction or non-fiction.
This is B.A. Shapiro's first novel. It's made several best seller lists, and is an Indie Book Dealer Best of 2012. I learned more about oil painting than I ever expected to know - or even thought I'd be interested in. The book isn't teachy, but I learned a lot.
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