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Showing posts from November, 2018

Universal Harvester by John Darnielle

Not surprisingly, like a lot of John Darnielle’s music, particularly those songs on the album The Sunset Tree (Pale Green Things springs to mind and is very much worth listening to), his writing only slowly reveals itself and its narrative direction. Not in any turgid or tedious fashion, but rather in an unhurried, gentler and more thoughtful way. Universal Harvester rolls gently along its path with only a few disconcerting and probably deliberate hiccups. It starts in Iowa in the 1990s with a young man, still living at home with his father but unable to leave because of the weight of his mother’s death, years before, in a car crash. The trauma tethers Jeremy and his father together like the gravitational pull of a dead star in a comfortable and predictable but numb orbit, but it’s never something that either of them can discuss openly.
Jeremy works at a VHS rental store, so we’re assuredly early-Worldwide Web era. His job is simple, repetitive, and keeps him and his father in entertai…

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

I lead off with embarrassment, as ever, for my neglect of this blog, a constant millstone – an apt metaphor given the crisis point of the novel – around my neck. In my defense, I’m trying to move house, so I’m a bit busy. For the plaintiff, I’m never really that busy and could probably have caught up to date if I hadn’t chosen to play Minecraft with my son or watch GoT in my spare time instead. C’est la vie, such as it is.
So, here goes a pretty longshot review, without the benefit of the original text to which to refer, and with little or no enthusiasm for the book itself.
The gist here is that some provincial bumpkin with a strong family name but no cash to match gets picked to be the wife of an apparently wealthy Amsterdam businessman and adventurer (both in the literal sense of loving travel and exploration and the figurative and, in Holland at least, heathen and perverted sexual sense), and moves to live with him and his sister, a seemingly cold would-be dowager with her own dark s…