Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Girl on the Train

Rachel is a "soon-to-be-homeless alcoholic" who exists on the periphery of life since her divorce. She pines for and stalks Tom, who lives with his new family in the house he and Rachel used to share. Every day, Rachel rides a train past her old neighborhood, snatching a momentary glimpse into other lives. From this vantage point, she fixates on one couple she often sees, idolizing them: "They're what I lost, they're everything I want to be."

One day, as the train passes the house, Rachel spies the woman kissing a strange man in her backyard. This discovery shatters Rachel's illusions about the "happy" couple, so she binge drinks to the point of blacking out. The following day, when the news reports the woman is missing, Rachel vaguely recalls having exited the train in her old neighborhood that night and subsequently convinces herself that she may be involved. Unfortunately, Rachel can't remember much else--including where and how she received cuts on her hand. Determined to reconstruct the night in question and solve the mystery, she soon becomes entangled in the police investigation.

Paula Hawkins fashions The Girl on the Train from a staggered timeline and three female narrators. Rachel is the anchor, though she's not always understandable or trustworthy; Hawkins fills in the missing pieces via flashbacks and passages narrated by the missing woman and Rachel's ex's new wife. En route to a terrorizing, twisted conclusion, all three women--and the men with whom they share their lives--are forced to dismantle their delusions about others and themselves, their choices and their respective relationships.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Riverhead Books, $26.95 Hardcover, 9781594633669, 336 pp
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (1/13/15), click HERE

This review was also featured (in a longer form) on Shelf Awareness: Book Trade (1/5/15). To read the longer review click HERE

Sunday, January 4, 2015

BOMB: The Author Interviews

Who better to ask a writer about writing than another writer? For more than 30 years, BOMB, a magazine of essays, literature and visual portfolios, has been publishing in-depth interviews with artists conducted by artists of all disciplines. In BOMB: The Author Interviews, publisher and editor Betsy Sussler collects 35 of the best conversations between influential and intellectual authors of world literature.

The Q&As are intimate and delve into aspects of the writer's craft, including the importance of sentences, rhythm and pacing, creating characters, narrative shaping, literary influences, editing and revision, the publishing industry and the demands of the writer's life amid more mundane concerns. They are intimate and give rare insight into the creative processes, feelings and work habits of contemporary prose writers and poets such as Sam Lipsyte, Steven Millhauser, Courtney Eldridge, Amy Hempel, Tobias Wolff and Jeffrey Eugenides. Each conversation differs in topic and tone. Clipped, clever banter infuses the exchange between Kathy Acker and Mark Magill, while a host of the Q&As convey mutual admiration, as evidenced when Junot Díaz and Edwidge Danticat discuss their ancestry and what it's like to be "book obsessed."

Articulating the complexity of the craft, the challenges of the writing life and the impetus behind certain works sometimes proves difficult, but each dialogue sheds light onto the act of writing itself and the profound satisfaction in having created something lasting on the page. Such revelations are bound to be helpful and insightful to readers and other writers intrigued and mystified by the process.

Bomb: The Author Interviews by Bomb Magazine; Betsy Sussler, ed.
Soho Press, $40.00 Hardcover, 9781616953799, 480 pp
Publication Date: November 4, 2014
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (11/3/14), click HERE

This review was also featured (in a much longer form) on Shelf Awareness: Book Trade (11/3/14). To read the longer review click HERE

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy 2015 !

 How will you launch the New Year?

Thursday, January 1, 2015
Opinion/Editorial: "Other Views/ Guest Columnist" (Section A-19)

To read the article in its entirety, click on the highlighted title above