I've got all these books in my backlog of things that I've read recently but haven't written about because I didn't love, or in some cases, even like, them. But it's not really helpful if I don't share some of the things that aren't at the top of my list. This week, I'm getting them all out of the way. And just because I didn't like something, doesn't mean you shouldn't give it a shot and tell me why I was wrong.
Magic Terror by Peter Straub - After Ghost Story and to a lesser extent, A Dark Matter, I was very ready to try another stab at Peter Straub, but this wasn't the right pick. A collection of seven short stories, Magic Terror is very well-written, but none of the stories stayed with me, as I can barely remember them.
College Girl by Patricia Weitz - I hated this book. Once I start a book, I have to finish it (unless it's Infinite Jest, which will forever sit on my nightstand, 95% read), so I followed through with this one, despite loathing it. The protagonist is whiny, desperate, pathetic, and incredibly boring. I kept expecting there to be a reason she was so scared sexually, but there was nothing. Skip it.
Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III - Probably my favorite of everything on this list, this book follows several different characters, very loosely related, through their adventures in love and hate on Massachusetts' North Shore. My complaint is that just when I became invested in a character's story, a new character took over. Leaving me wanting more isn't the worst thing.
This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz - Junot Diaz is one of those names that you hear all the time in discussions about modern literature. I read Oscar Wao and had lukewarm feelings about it. This Is How You Lose Her totally turned me off. I can't get past the misogyny. It's just too much for me.
NW by Zadie Smith - I want to love Zadie Smith, I really do. I've read all of her novels, and while I find them fascinating, I just don't get them. Her characters are imperfect in every way, and maybe that realism is what is so hard for me to grasp. NW is about one London neighborhood and the lives of the people who live there. As with Dirty Love, as soon as I was enthralled by one character, a new chapter and a new life began.
The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova - My mom bought me this (along with half a dozen other books - she just gets me) for Christmas and I finally took it off the shelf. The novel follows a psychiatrist as he delves into the life of a patient who just attempted to destroy a painting in the National Gallery. While the writing is great and I loved all of the discussions on art, and the Impressionists specifically, the book didn't click for me. It didn't hold together for whatever reason. If you want a great Kostova book, read The Historian.
The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto - Goodreads is where I keep my running list of everything I want to read. It's great for organizing that way, except I can't remember where I got a book recommendation. I can't remember where I heard about The Lake, but I wish I hadn't. I've loved so much Japanese literature recently (mostly Murakami) that maybe my expectations were too high, but the "mystery" didn't have a good resolution and it seemed as though nothing really happened. Not my favorite.