Robin’s December Book Reviews

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The Entre Río Trilogy by Perla Suez, translated by Rhonda Dahl Buchanan
. I bought this book a while back, somewhere in New Mexico, shrink wrapped so I couldn’t randomly open it and read a bit before a handed over my cash. This is an unusual book. The writing style, which I assume is not due to translation, wanders around.  A dream, first person, third person, some other time. Not exactly free association, but somehow the style puts the reader deep into the mind of the “teller” or protagonist. There was an introduction and preface, which I didn’t read until after I read the stories (my preference.) Be sure to read the translator’s preface.

Anyway, the stories are in Buenos Aires region, three separate novels (or novelette). Time lines 1920ish. Lethargy is the story of a young Jewish girl, death of parent, growing up with forgotten memories and such. The Arrest is the story of a young Jewish man who leaves rural life only to fall into the middle of the conflicts Russian Jewish immigrants faces in Buenos Aires. Complot takes the reader into the life of a young girl and the negotiations of progress in the region.

The stories have a vague, floating feeling. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but they disturbed me—in that good way that makes this a good read. Rate: 4.5

Into Thin Air by Caroline Leavitt. I took an online writing class from Leavitt and in the process read quite a few of her books. I did enjoy them and they are rated elsewhere. This is one of her older books. I found it while looking up her newest book. I did enjoy it, but I couldn’t help but be a harsh critiquer when it came to inconsistencies. I think she has come a long way since her early days. She is prolific, so I have some more books to read. This is the story of a very young bride, who flees just after giving birth. We see what is happening to young Lee, as well as her abandoned infant daughter and husband. Some things that were a problem for me: my pet peeve—Point of View—I continue to be a firm believer that one chapter one view point is best. I think the story line would have been fresh in 1993, when this book was written. But now? Hard to shock readers these days. Rate: 3.0

The Fiddler in the Subway by Gene Weingarten. Recommended by a friend, this is a book of Weingarten’s favorite Washington Post stories. I like them. A lot. I also like the fact that it is a book I can pick up, read one story, put down and come back to later. I don’t exactly have the attention span to read them all at once. But they stick with me. I cannot drive across Nevada without thinking about “The Armpit of America” and wanting to meet those people. Rate: 4.0

Dog On It by Spencer Quinn. A friend gave me this book following a discussion on dogs and cats and how smart they are. He has an incredible cat, and he is the most patient man, because he has trained this cat to do all kinds of funny things. He thought I might enjoy the book, and I did. It is a quick light read, with a huge “genre” feel. Chet, a dog and his owner, a Private Detective, work together to find a missing teenage girl. The story is told from the dog’s point of view. I found that the dog repeated himself a lot. I don’t know if that was intentional, but it made me feel like the work wasn’t edited for content as well as it should have been. This is a series and I probably won’t be reading any others. I have a feeling they will all be the same. Rate: 2.5