Sunday, May 22, 2011

Shepard and Atkinson again

"Happy with Crocodiles," Jim Shepard

I enjoyed this one quite a bit, a tale of an American soldier heading into certain doom against the Japanese while he replays in his head the confusing circumstances of his girlfriend situation back home. The title is a metaphor for "thick with danger" or "surrounded by enemies," which he is on the battlefront and homefront. The ending, with its projection into a terrible future, leaves you unsettled and trapped.

Case Histories, Kate Atkinson

Just brilliant. Some complaints surfaced late in the book, as chapters flipped back in time to gather events from different perspectives, but each time I felt this device slowed things down, I saw how necessary it was to the narrative's secret progress, so that the final chapters, hurling us back to the beginning of the book, become a perfect complement as well as key to unlocking the last mysteries. A complexly organized novel, written in striking prose that could be laugh-out-loud funny, simply smart, wonderfully off-kilter (as characters' attentions wander) or unbearably sad from moment to moment. What a terrific writer. I must read more of her work.

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