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Customer Comments

mclarenster has commented on (10) products.

Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin
Golden Boy

mclarenster, July 2, 2013

I've decided this is my favorite book of the year. The whole thing could have gone so, so badly, in so many ways--I read the damn thing through in one sitting to make sure everything turned out well. (And by "well," I don't mean "happy," but "with a realistic story arc.") A couple of times I got nervous, but Tarttelin rallied.

I don't want to go into the specifics of the plot, but I think there's something for everyone here. I do want to say that I found the voices believable, and the sociological tracing of the issue was really well done. All of this and a damn good read, to boot. Less sensational than I recall Middlesex being (although I only vaguely recall Middlesex.)

I'm already recommending this to friends.
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Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion? by Johan Harstad
Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion?

mclarenster, January 5, 2012

This book was wildly popular in Norway, apparently, and became a TV series. This is mentioned in the author blurb, along with the fact that a member of the cast of The Wire was in the series--one I didn't recall, and who has no picture on IMDb. I found this weird piece of marketing very amusing: "Hey! We've got an unknown American actor from a critically-acclaimed program!"

The cover description doesn't represent the book well, or really make one want to read it, so I was more than pleasantly surprised with how enjoyable I found Buzz Aldrin. Occasionally I was annoyed with the long sentences and found myself sort of skimming through them--I felt a serious longing for punctuation more varied than commas in a very long paragraph. Overall, the novel is rather charming, like a Belle & Sebastian song.

Actually, I think that's a pretty good summation: Buzz is a Belle & Sebastian song in novel form. Some will find it rather twee, others will love it to death, and a few will founder in the middle.
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Exley by Brock Clarke
Exley

mclarenster, September 22, 2011

"Exley" captures just how messed-up childhood is: just trying to accurately apprehend what's going on around yourself can be difficult, especially when the adults aren't up to the task of leveling with you, or themselves. A novel about a kid attaching magical importance to a celebrity isn't that uncommon, but in "Exley," the celebrity isn't even quite a one-book wonder. Miller, the protagonist, manages to pull a number of people into his slightly skewed world view. The thing that hits me most about this book is how much wandering around this kid does on his own, trying to fix things, and the people he encounters along the way. It's a sad and lonely vision. I read this book in January and I'm still thinking about it, which is more than I can say about some of the books I read last month.
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Black Diamond by Martin Walker
Black Diamond

mclarenster, September 22, 2011

I picked up the first "Bruno" book at the library on a whim, and reading this newest installment reminds me how more-than-pleasantly surprised I was when I read it. Walker delivers another multi-layered mystery that mixes French history and current events, served with healthy sides of wine and food. (The attention to wine, food, and setting portend a "cozy" mystery, but never fear--on the other hand, this isn't CSI, either.) I often recommend Walker's books to other mystery readers; he's a solid writer who isn't imitative and is never boring.
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The Instructions by Adam Levin
The Instructions

mclarenster, January 3, 2011

I knew within 100 pages that The Instructions would be my favorite book of 2010--and my reading list topped out at 216 books for the year (somewhat shy of my 240 book goal), so there's a decent range for comparison. I loved the story and the voice (*especially* the voice): something original and risky in a sea of narratives that can quickly become generic, regardless of the critical praise.
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