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Elizabeth L has commented on (27) products.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
State of Wonder

Elizabeth L, March 2, 2012

This was one of those books that really made me miss taking college English classes. It's so rich with symbolism, imagery, metaphor -- it begs for a great class discussion (not to mention the obvious parallels with Heart of Darkness). This is my first Patchett novel, and I'm very much looking forward to reading Bel Canto now. Her characters are richly drawn and the plot and setting of this novel are at once unique and familiar, making you feel as if you have access to a world and lifestyle that you'd never otherwise know. Highly recommended.
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(3 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)

Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood
Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood

Elizabeth L, January 26, 2012

This book provides a much more in-depth look at the many issues that influence fish populations worldwide than anything I've read before, and Grescoe reaches some interesting conclusions that both contradict and resonate with what other food-related agencies would recommend. Grescoe teaches how to be an informed consumer (in all ways) of seafood, and speaks to the benefits with equal persuasion. He is such a great and evocative writer, that this book - despite some of its depressing content - is a joy to read from beginning to end.
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So Much for That (P.S.) by Lionel Shriver
So Much for That (P.S.)

Elizabeth L, January 1, 2012

Shriver has a knack for taking on topics that most authors wouldn't approach (in this case incurable diseases) and writing about them both realistically and compellingly. She makes you want to keep reading about things that you would otherwise avoid. Less obliquely, I appreciate two consistent things about her prose -- her willingness to write unsympathetic (yet incredibly smart and caustic) female characters and her ability to write about romantic relationships that are robust and strong, both emotionally and physically. The final thing I really appreciate about this novel, which puts it above both We Need to Talk About Kevin and Post-Birthday World, is that it's narrative structure doesn't rely on any gimmicks to keep you reading. Instead, Shriver goes back to depending on her own well-paced prose and original ideas to create a narrative that never felt forced or cliched -- no small feat when writing about a topic that is normally anything but.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray
Skippy Dies

Elizabeth L, May 26, 2011

At its most basic, this novel chronicles the declension (and, unfortunate, sacralization) of an all-boys Irish (obviously Catholic) boarding school in a contemporary time and place where even suggesting the existence of such a space seems anachronistic. But, at its most epic, this novel is much more. It's a parable of science versus religion, traditional versus contemporary. In a somewhat predictable way (particularly in an Irish setting) it is the twinned virtues--love and humor--that transcend the otherwise insurmountable dichotomies the book sets into play, emerging triumphantly from the embers of all else that has been destroyed. Beyond such abstractions (and I have no idea why I'm reviewing a book that is in many ways intensely realistic in such grandiose and vague terms), the book is a page-turner. It envelops the reader wholly into the glory that is existence and the agony that inevitably travels alongside it. It makes you remember exactly the toils and pleasures of adolescence and simultaneously question just how far you've actually traveled beyond it. To raise one final dichotomy, from the earliest pages in the novel (wherein Skippy, as the title announces, dies), this is a novel about life.
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(2 of 5 readers found this comment helpful)

The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them by Elif Batuman
The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them

Elizabeth L, January 1, 2011

This book should be recommended reading for anybody in graduate school. It both renewed my faith in scholarship while simultaneously critically lampooning the entire process. Well worth it!
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)

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