REVIEW: What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

As we know, I am a sucker for a solid short story collection, and Raymond Carver did not disappoint with What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. 

What We Talk About… explores a multitude of aspects of human interactions and relationships, generally via snapshots into a life. While each story in What We Talk About… has a beautifully constructed arc, they lack finality. This sounds like a potential negative; however, the lack of finality creates quite a powerful effect.  The reader is gifted with the ability to peer, only for a specific moment, into the window of a life.

Carver’s stories end on an inhale, allowing each tale, and every little detail to linger with you long after you are done. Due to the skill in Carver’s writing, this device elevates What We Talk About… to a level of storytelling few can achieve.

Standouts:

Why Don’t You Dance?

I Could See the Smallest Thing

The Bath

So Much Water So Close to Home

Everything Stuck to Him

I would like to thank the friend who recommended What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. You gave me the gift of a piece of literature which will always stay in my heart, and for that, I will always be grateful.

Rating: 5 Front Lawn Slow Dances

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REVIEW: East of Eden

Do you ever delay finishing a book because you don’t want it to be over? Or find yourself unable to start a new novel because you need time before you fully move on from the last?

I finished East of Eden in March of 2018. I still miss it.

Through a seemingly simple premise, East of Eden, explores a variety of familial and romantic relationships and their many layers in this multi-generational saga. Steinbeck has a grace and subtlety of language, which allows him to treat his characters with care; you feel his love for them.

While the obvious biblical symbolism of Cain and Abel throughout the generations of the Trask family could easily become tiresome, each set of sons has a unique identity and hardships to bear. Consequently, the reader becomes more invested in their journey than the symbolism. Every character in East of Eden is compelling and fully developed; whether they comprise the center of the story or its orbit. The strength of Steinbeck’s supporting cast, especially in the character of Lee, elevates the novel from a solid piece of literature into a masterpiece. 

Steinbeck is the rare exception to my rule of “every story can be told in 350 pages or less,” I wouldn’t cut a single word of this 600 page masterpiece.  

P.S. Cathy Ames is one of the greatest characters ever created. 

Rating: 5 Acres

 

2018 COMPLETED LIST

Completed 2018 list with links to reviews.

This will be updated as reviews are completed, but please note, not all books will be reviewed.

  1. After the Quake
  2. The Age of Innocence
  3. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  4. As I Lay Dying (To Be Reviewed)
  5. The Baron in the Trees (To Be Reviewed)
  6. Blood Meridian
  7. Circe (To Be Reviewed)
  8. The Crying of Lot 49
  9. Dark Matter
  10. East of Eden 
  11. Everything I Never Told You
  12. The Exorcist
  13. The Good Solider
  14. The Horse and His Boy
  15. In a Dark, Dark Wood
  16. Interpreter of Maladies (To Be Reviewed)
  17. Jagannath (To Be Reviewed)
  18. Less Than Zero
  19. The Madman
  20. The Magician’s Nephew
  21. The Man in the Brown Suit (To Be Reviewed)
  22. The Man Who Never Was (To Be Reviewed)
  23. A Mind to Murder 
  24. Mother Night (To Be Reviewed)
  25. The Murder at the Vicarage
  26. Murder on the Links
  27. The Mysterious Affair at Styles
  28. Nine Coaches Waiting
  29. The Nix (To Be Reviewed)
  30. The Remains of the Day
  31. The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories
  32. Survivor
  33. The Thirty-Nine Steps
  34. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
  35. Tour de Force (To Be Reviewed)
  36. Tuesday’s with Morrie
  37. The Virgin Suicides
  38. Washington Square
  39. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love 

2018 Listacular Recap

TOP FIVE:

Books Which Became a Part of My Heart

    1. East of Eden 
    2. The Nix (To Be Reviewed)
    3. Mother Night (To Be Reviewed)
    4. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love 
    5. Survivor

 

Books I’d Recommend to All Readers 

  1. After the Quake
  2. The Exorcist
  3. Circe (To Be Reviewed)
  4. Interpreter of Maladies (To Be Reviewed)
  5. Nine Coaches Waiting

Honorable Mentions

  1. The Baron in the Trees (To Be Reviewed)
  2. The Man in the Brown Suit (To Be Reviewed)
  3. Tour de Force (To Be Reviewed)
  4. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
  5. The Man Who Never Was (To Be Reviewed)

Books I’m Least Likely to Recommend

  1. Tuesdays with Morrie
  2. The Crying of Lot 49
  3. The Good Solider
  4. Jagganath (To Be Reviewed)
  5. As I Lay Dying (To Be Reviewed)

FAREWELL, 2018

Dear Readers,

2018 had some difficulties which resulted in me not reaching my goals as a reader or writer. However, I am going into 2019 with much motivation.

I will be continuing my blog in the new year with a couple of changes:

  1. I will finish up some reviews from 2018, but only those books which made it to my listacular recap (to be shared later today).
  2. 2019 will have a list of 45 books and 10 wild card spots. Life and literature have proven to be too unpredictable to commit to a set 55 (to be shared tomorrow).

May you all have a happy and healthy New Year!

With love & literature,

Day

A Note

My Dear Readers,

It was hard for me to keep up with my reading life most of the year, which has left me disappointed. But, with things settling down, and a new wind of motivation rising, I plan to finish out 2018 fiercely. 

New reviews coming soon! And, who knows, maybe I will manage to read 20 books in 6 weeks. Anything is possible: George Clooney got married.

With Love and Literature,

Day

REVIEW: Less Than Zero

One of my first reviews was for Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho.  It was also the review where I found my voice; something about Ellis’ writing inspired me.

I decided it was time to explore more of Ellis’ work, and to start at the very beginning.

Ellis’ debut novel, Less Than Zero, while not finely tuned, clearly foreshadows his potential . (He wrote it when he was 21, so, I mean, why am I even critiquing? But, here we are). Told in the first person, with a heavy stream of consciousness vibe, similar to that of American Psycho, Ellis uses viscous prose to take us on a tour of the 1980s college party scene in California.

Our guide, Clay, leads with a somber and introspective voice; a young man trying to find his place in a community with blurred boundaries. Clay’s commentary and perspective on the scene, as well as the problems of his time and generation is an element Ellis continues to explore later in his career through Patrick Bateman (adding in graphic details and serial killings, of course). 

There is a looseness to Ellis’ style in Less Than Zero, which fits the setting to a degree, but allows for a bit too much meandering in parts; this weakens the novel.

While I wasn’t as engaged and fueled by Less Than Zero as I was by American Psycho, Ellis’ unique voice is certainly alive enough in this debut novel to keep the reader on the journey.

 

Rating: 3.5 Stoned Nights