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kas has commented on (20) products.

No Book But the World by Leah Hager Cohen
No Book But the World

kas, October 21, 2014

No Book but the World is an excellent work of literary fiction, in my view, because it employs unusual and special skill to elucidate subtle ideas -- and especially to illustrate precise emotional states -- in order to achieve its ultimate artistic purposes. This is an excellent read, which I recommend enthusiastically. I expect it will likely be one of my top 10 reads of 2014 (of 100+).

The novel is narrated entirely in the first-person, and by the end of the first page the reader is drawn directly into the whirlwind of the protagonist's stream-of-consciousness. Perhaps what strikes me most about this book is that it does not merely exemplify psychological fiction; it fully embodies this idea. Cohen guides the reader with uncanny fluidity through time, personally significant experiences & different perspectives on these experiences. It's not a pleasant novel at all times. It's unsettling as you can gather from reading the plot summary, but I wouldn't call it disturbing. There is nothing alienating about it -- especially when as a reader we are able to most directly inhabit Ava's perspective, IMHO.

This was a surprisingly quick, light read considering its sophistication and depth. Nothing about the form -- or the content -- caused me to stop at a given point and examine a portion of the text with great particularity. It seemed to work organically with my attention, which I guess is one of the ways this work gives the psychological novel added dimension as a form.

I am sorry that this review is pretty abstract and general; I find it hard to get into the specifics of the story without saying too much or somehow misrepresenting what it is. Thanks for reading my thoughts. I hope they help inform your opinion on this prospective read somehow.

Please be advised I received a free copy of this book to review through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program.
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O, Africa! by Andrew Lewis Conn
O, Africa!

kas, September 4, 2014

O Africa!: A Novel is nothing more and nothing less than a beautifully realized story of intellectual depth and palpable soul that includes as its central theme the challenging, multi-dimensional nature of perspective in the creation and interpretation of narrative art itself. This Andrew Lewis Conn guy is nothing if not ambitious!

A key element that distinguishes this novel as a great book is the light, easily digestible, yet richly evocative prose which is a unique enough pleasure in and of itself without the presence of other features which render this type of read a downright bizarre find in this novel, according to my mind. Firstly, given the aforementioned theme, one can expect some notable navel-gazing of the artist protagonists in the substance of the story as well as various signs of the entanglement of the author's writing process with our experience as readers interpreting the text. I would expect this kind of work, if successful, to be very textually rich but inevitably somewhat unwieldy as a read with some stagnation at different points in the plot.

Instead, I found the narrative to be light, beautiful, effervescent, organic in its transitions and incorporation of various stylistic elements; innovatively engaged in reverent dialogue with a living literary tradition, and last but not least; steadily flowing and never stagnating. All in all, it was an oddly brisk (and briskly odd) read. I cannot recommend this book more highly -- enjoy!

Please be advised I received my copy of this book for free as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.
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Troika by Adam Pelzman
Troika

kas, September 4, 2014

Adam Pelzman's novel Troika is an unquestionably relevant work for contemporary readers, as it could be for readers of many (if not all) ages. From the first sentence to the very last, Pelzman signals the radical primacy of humanity to this work.

What in the world do I mean by that?

First of all, on a basic level, Troika is a story about a complicated relationship between a wife, a husband, and the woman with whom he is has an extramarital liaison at the beginning of the book that is told in first-person narration from multiple perspectives. There is no filter between the reader and character's psychology. And indeed, I found the characters to be not only multi-dimensional and believable, they were likable and so relatable that they provided an effective bridge for me to understand and appreciate values contrary to my own and actions I would never take.

The first narrator is the "other woman" in the triangle; a young stripper named Perla. When the story begins, she is at work. Despite the vulgar language and number of vulgar people populating this first setting, Perla's proud and irreverent -- but not unkind personality --is definitely compelling. The one word I would use to describe my impression of Perla and the opening of the novel itself is definitely "charming." The original partner of the male protagonist brings a witty, wise and generous perspective to the narrative.

In addition to the centrality of realistic, incredibly well-drawn characters -- and in particular two strong and unusual women -- and the privileging of their unique perspectives through the structure of the novel, I would also call this a truly humane book due to: the generosity shown by the characters (implicit in the plot's nature & structure) and the hope the story can engender in the reader concerning the expansive potential of human relationships. I recommend this novel without reservation. Please be advised I received a free ARC of this novel for an honest review through the LibraryThing.com Early Reviewers Program. Thanks for reading my thoughts
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The Guts by Roddy Doyle
The Guts

kas, March 1, 2014

***The Guts: Not the Literary Fiction Style I Know & Love, But More Valuable Reading Experience for that Very Reason

Bottom Line: Whether old fan or new initiate, I recommend Roddy Doyle's The Guts highly. I believe most readers would be sorry to miss the example of masterful literary craftsmanship that is evidenced throughout this book in the form of Doyle's distinctive dialogue.

Discussion: The Guts wasn't exactly what I expected; I cannot remember the last time I read a novel that included so much dialogue. I read a lot of literary fiction, and certainly the authors of these works typically include a significantly higher percentage of narration than dialogue. One wonders if the author more easily maintains greater control over the text's meaning in a narrative style; is some strength or ability to be direct lost when putting more of the story in characters' mouths?

In any case, it was a very interesting -- and unusually valuable -- diversion in form from most novels I read, but it took some time for me to get used to it. I had to become familiar with the rhythm, local Irish vocabulary and sense of humor of the characters. I got the hang of it eventually and found the novel a decidedly rewarding read. I particularly recommend it to any reader who, like myself, reads narrator-dominated novels. It's good to switch things up I find; it exercises the intellect and the imagination in my experience.

For other readers, this work has plenty of appeal. To understate it grossly, I'll say that Roddy Doyle is a strong writer whose dialogue is not without some semblance to poetry. You can just imagine the effusive praise that would be here if I were totally truthful. Or, just go check it out! Thanks for reading my views. I appreciate the opportunity to explore this major release in advance of official publication provided through the First to Read program of Penguin Books.
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Tireless by Graham Spaid
Tireless

kas, February 28, 2014

his is an abstract work of literature -- a very good one, mind, but it's not for every taste. The stream-of-consciousness novella, with its playful and mysterious style, is bound to leave impressions at least as varied and numerous as its readership.

During my own reading of tireless:, Nabokov's literary masterpiece Lolita and the 2003 Crispin Glover cinematic vehicle Willard appeared at the forefront of my consciousness more than once. That's what I call some evocative stuff...Cheers, Graham Spaid.

Please be advised I received a free copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway.
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