RALEIGH, NC, United States | Member Since 2014
Wilton Barnhardt has produced something rare and beautiful with "Lookaway, Lookaway." Hilarious at times, tragic at others (and sometimes both at once), it is a compelling, compassionate portrait of a certain kind of family, and a certain kind of culture, and the mammoth pile of secrets needed to keep them both from crumbling. Buy it, already!
Oh, and the narration is great too :)
While O'Connor's "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" collection is by no means a mood-lifter, the writing is so beautiful and the characters vivid and just unlikable enough that it's not so hard to accept the horrible things that often happen to them. In this collection, that balance isn't there for me. "Everything that Rises Must Converge" tells mostly the stories of people trying very hard to be good and ultimately failing in tragic, unjust ways. They read more like cautionary tales than anything else. I found "The Comforts of Home" probably the most disturbing.
It's true that O'Connor's trademark brilliant characterization and tension building is as present in these stories as it is in the rest of her work, but I ultimately wouldn't recommend this unless you're an immoral person who needs straightening out or you just really get a kick out of human suffering.
"Untamed State" is beautifully, skillfully written and narrated. Roxane Gay creates such vivid, living--dying--characters that you're hooked almost from the beginning in SPITE of (not due to) the graphic subject matter. Although there's a lot of unspeakable violence throughout the novel, it is handled tastefully; you get the sense that the narrator is telling you this because it is necessary for you to hear, and for her to tell. You are not left feeling like a voyeur.
Robin Miles does a wonderful job with the narration. I'm no expert, but it seemed to me that her accents and character voices were right on target.
Fair warning: This book is not for the faint of heart, and it is EXTREMELY triggering. For me, personally, listening was sort of re-traumatizing, but also therapeutic. Listen at your own risk, and make sure there is at least one person you know whom you can talk to if necessary.
I was actually directed to this book and this author by a brilliant lit professor of mine. And I suppose I might recommend it as well, but then I might not. The writing itself is more than competent, quietly funny, and the characters feel very authentic. But this is not a book for someone looking to lose herself in a lively adventure, succumb to side-splitting, tear-jerking, sleeplessness, or nail-biting. It follows its own pace, and reads almost like memoir, despite being written in the 3rd person. Barrie does a good job with the narration (which seems particularly tricky in this novel) though her take on the American accent is somewhat, er... different. A sort of female John Wayne. Overall, the book is solid. Likable, but for me... not quite lovable.
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