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W S Krauss has commented on (58) products.

1Q84 (Vintage International) by Haruki Murakami
1Q84 (Vintage International)

W S Krauss, June 21, 2014

1Q84 crosses genres. It is a love story, speculative fiction and fantasy. The two main characters meet briefly as children and affect each other's lives until they finally meet again. That said, there is a very long road to travel before they see each other again. Aomame stumbles into a parallel world she names 1Q84. Tengo is called upon by a friend in the publishing industry to edit a story written by a high school girl for entrance into a literary contest. These actions create a cascade of events that lead the characters to each other. It is an astonishing book, full of themes and imagery. I enjoyed this book immensely and see why it is being called Murakami's masterpiece.
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Carry the One by Carol Anshaw
Carry the One

W S Krauss, May 10, 2014

After a wedding, a group of people in a car strike and kill a 10-year-old girl. This book is about grief and guilt and how it affects people in different ways. I enjoyed the writing, the characters, the humor and the way Anshaw brings leftist politics of the time period into the story. It also shows how tragedy can bring people together in a very lasting way, while others are torn apart by it.
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Stone Arabia by Dana Spiotta
Stone Arabia

W S Krauss, March 8, 2014

This book tells the story of Denise, a forty-something divorced woman, and her older brother Nik, a musician and artist. Denise takes care of her mother, whose memory is declining. She also watches out for her brother, who hasn't really made much money, but who has put out a string of albums, most of which are heard only by close family and friends. He records every nuance of his life as a musician in The Chronicles, a series of books that detail every move in his career, some of it fake. For example, there are fake record reviews that Nik has written included in the books. There are many themes in the novel including relationships with family, memories, our reactions to world events and the meaning of art. It begs the question whether one is an artist if the art is not shared with the world. This novel doesn't answer many of its questions. It does, however, get you thinking about these issues. The structure of the book is as unconventional as its characters. I came to care about the people in the book, but did not really understand them. I found this frustrating; but, at the same time I found it impossible to put down. I wanted to see where the story went and if there was any resolution for Denise and Nik.
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The Round House (P.S.) by Louise Erdrich
The Round House (P.S.)

W S Krauss, February 28, 2014

An amazing coming-of-age story! The central character is a thirteen-year-old Native American boy, living in North Dakota on the reservation. A terrible crime is committed against his mother. Joe and his father, a tribal judge, struggle to help her survive the ordeal and seek justice for her. Woven in the narrative are stories and myths of the Ojibwe Indians. Joe and his friends, Cappy, Angus and Zack try to investigate the crime on their own, having become frustrated with the official investigation. They find some possible clues near the Round House, a place of worship for those on the reservations. There is some uncertainty whether the crime was committed on the reservation and who would prosecute the case. As a result of this crime, Joe faces difficult situations and choices that demand he begin to see things with a more adult perspective. The characters in this novel were completely real to me, especially Joe with his inner thoughts brought to light by the author. Erdrich excels at bringing the experiences of living on the reservation to her novels and exposing some of the problems that exist between Native Americans and whites living nearby. The novel is really Joe's story, how he deals with tragedy and sorrow and how he learns to deal with the uneven application of justice in his world.
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Telegraph Avenue (P.S.) by Michael Chabon
Telegraph Avenue (P.S.)

W S Krauss, January 4, 2014

Having some familiarity with Telegraph Avenue and the Berkeley/Oakland area, I could definitely picture in my mind Brokeland Records and its diverse and eccentric customer base. The owners, Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe, are longtime partners in the venture, as well as close friends. Their business is threatened by the impending opening of Dogpile Records, a large chain of successful stores started by ex-football player and celebrity Gibson Goode. Goode even has a zeppelin bearing the name Minnie Ripperton that flies over the Bay area advertising the stores. But, Goode's success in opening the store lies with the City Council and there are members who must be convinced that Dogpile will be good for the community. Goode tries to convince Archy to close Brokeland and come to work for him. Meanwhile, Archy and Nat's wives, Gwen and Aviva, who are midwives in practice together, are in hot water at the hospital where they have privileges. This is not so much because there was a problem during a home birth where the mother had to be transferred to the hospital, but rather because Gwen was angry that they were not allowed in the delivery room once they arrived at the hospital. Gwen spoke "disrespectfully" to the OB in charge after he insulted the midwives. We also follow the story of Nat's son Julius, or Julie, who is in love with another boy, Tutus, he meets at a film class. We also meet Archy's father, Luther Stallings and his partner Valletta Moore.

There is so much to this book, both in terms of characters and story. It is comical and full of family drama. Yet also has some seroius points to make about life. Chabon's writing is dazzling at times and carries you along on his many plot twists. In one part of the book, we follow a parrot from place to place as it flies over Oakland, and over scenes inhabited by the book's characters. It's quirky and brilliant. Telegraph Avenue comes to life on the page with color and humor and a sweetness to it that can't be denied.
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