When We Were Orphans by Kashuo Ishiguro
This one is tricky. I finished it a while go but it’s already subsumed from my memory, which makes me question rating it 4-stars. NLMG was definitely better. WWWO was frustrating sometimes, because I was reading it with the view that the narrator had gone completely insane, and nothing —absolutely nothing— he had shared was true, but the last part of the book completely crushed this interpretation. Writing so smooth, like cream. Architecturally clever, the way things are weaved together and strands resurface was master-like, intricately patterned. What a collected craftsman. My favorite bit was the hallucinatory, hysterical search through war-torn Shanghai; surreal and extraordinarily perfect. Book somewhat flat in retrospect. Still, first immersive read in a while.
Oblivion by David Foster Wallace
Oh man. I can’t. DFW was too clever for my little hermetic brain. Vulnerability and pain; little veerings away from plot to peer intently and expose the sadness, helplessness, of regular characters, people. Clever. Kind of obsessively written, but so controlled—you can tell he stared at these things for hours and hours, and passages that appear to be messes are purposeful, controlled explosions of linguistic mastery. He could do anything. He kills me. Things that should have been utterly tasteless (TSC) were so well written that they were hilarious and beautiful and touching. He really could do anything, and often all at once. Virtuosic. It’s scary. It really is. Loved Good Old Neon (fraudulence and paradoxes and self-destructive, spiral thinking touched a nerve), the plastic surgery one, incarnations of burned children. Exactly the right wave-length for my depressed brain.
A Model World by Michael Chabon
Didn’t finish maybe 1/3 of the stories. Liquid, seamless prose. Epiphanic short stories which I didn’t actually care much for, content-wise. What’s the point? Unmoved. Had his clever moments. The best story was the eponymous. I looked him up and I really respect his views re: genre writing; seems like he’s on the right track, glad he’s escaped snobbery. Not pressed to read any of his novels, though. Maybe sometime. Even though it’s beautifully written I don’t give a fuck. Worried his longer works will be bloated and uninteresting.