Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Review: Jazz

Jazz (Toni Morrison Trilogy, #2)Jazz by Toni Morrison
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I didn't really like this book, but I mostly feel it's because it's out of my depth. The spirit of jazz is interwoven throughout the story, as characters hop in and out, viewpoints are spliced together like harmonies, and the overall feeling of this book is style. Still, I didn't really enjoy it. That's probably because the plot is paper thin. There's a love triangle, somebody dies, and that's about it.

But not to take a simple approach, Morrison floats about through black culture and creates a rich story told through a prism of history. It's certainly creative and bold, but the characters just don't do it for me and the poetry, as lovely as it is, doesn't add to the overall narrative. If you prefer style over story, this is the book for you. Otherwise, skip. Beloved is a more worthy tale.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Review: Dubin's Lives

Dubin's LivesDubin's Lives by Bernard Malamud
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Malamud was an exceptional writer. So exceptional, it seems, that he was able to craft a novel about marriage and infidelity for an exhausting 386 pages and still keep my interest for the majority of the ride. Though, I must say, this is the fifth book I've read of his (I've also read The Natural, The Fixer, The Assistant, and The Tenants), and also my least favorite, mostly because of its redundancy. No lie, this book could have been trimmed by at least 100 less pages. At least!

And while yes, I know this book is about much more than love and marriage - Dubin is a biographer, so the title is a bit of a play on words -it just didn't do it for me. Something was just missing, and it was pretty glaring. It may have been the protagonist, since I felt no sympathy for him whatsoever. He was a bit of a scumbag.

Besides marriage and cheating, this book also has a heavy focus on masculinity and the idea of aging. But honestly, the concepts in this book are long and drawn out, and even with the beautiful prose that Malamud provides, it's hard to look at the book in its entirety and put it on the same level as, say, The Fixer or The Assistant. It's definitely worth a read, but not if it's the first book you're going to read of Malamud's. That should be The Fixer.

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