2019 Reading List

Book Titles Link to Outside Reviews

Fiction

My Memories of a Future Life by Roz Morris. Indie Published. I have very confused feelings about this book. I’m reading Roz Morris’s non-fiction about writing fiction (Nail Your Novel), which is full of inspiration and great advice. I know also that she has ghost written many novels. So I really expected and wanted to love this book. From the outset I really loved the title. But….. this is where I get really confused and don’t know what I think about it. As a whole, did I love it? No. Did I want to stop reading it? No. Is she (In my humble opinion) a “good” writer? ABSOLUTELY. Some of her turns-of-phrase and imagery were the sort, that as a lover of words, you stop to admire and maybe read again and have fleeting (and extended) moments of writer’s envy. Simultaneously inspired and intimidated. Example: “He drew the curtains and put a lamp on a low table. When he switched it on the shadows flowed like water into the hollows of the woman’s face.” Her scenes are vivid, the characters distinct. The setting feels alive. But…the story had some issues for me. I found it hard to believe that so many people were so deeply invested in the mundane regression sessions of one average woman. The menacing, almost kidnapping, seemed really implausible to me. The final big scene with the stealing of the tapes and all that follows, was over-the-top to me. Gene was so mysterious, then he turned out to just be a jerk, and her sudden reversal from an artist to someone who decides she hates her art didn’t sit right with me. I guess I was asked to take too many leaps of faith. I got tired, and wasn’t making it across all the chasms by the end. So I guess I feel the plot (though very detailed), was weak, but the writing was wonderful. It was so vivid I know parts of it will stay with me for a long time.

 

Vox by Christina Dalcher. (Light spoilers) This book started off really well. I thought I was going to love it. The premise was excellent (and scary!) especially for the times in which we live. But after a strong start it fell apart for me just past the halfway mark. It felt very rushed and all the characters started sounding the same. I have no problem with “curse” words, I use them often myself, but at one point it felt like a simplistic way to make the characters sound tough, and it felt way overused to me. I also couldn’t figure out why an old school friend activist that she thinks about often, but hasn’t seen in 20 years, is suddenly being held hostage in the lab? How did they know they had been friends? And what did they think would be accomplished by bringing her there?
I also think that everyone who compared this book to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s tale, did the author a disservice. It made me expect more than this book offers. Atwood is an incredibly layered and masterful writer. This book is not layered, and Dalcher herself says in endnotes that she wrote it in two months based on a shorter work. That made me wonder if that’s why the beginning (likely worked on longer) was stronger, maybe if the publisher wasn’t trying to ride the popularity of the Handmaid’s Tale (which is of course just an assumption on my part), an editor would have encouraged her to go deeper. I saw enough “good stuff” in Dalcher’s writing and imagination to hope that her next novel slows down and goes deeper. (By “slows down” I don’t necessarily mean the plot slows down, there are many edge of your seat stories. I mean that I felt rushed to the next scene, instead of there being an unfolding tension within the story). I won’t be surprised though, if I hear that VOX is being made into a movie, it has good bones.

Writing and Story

Memoir

Self-development

General Non-fiction