Thursday, February 12, 2015

Review: Mother Night

Mother Night
Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yowza. The kind of book you want to read in one sitting. Tragic, funny -- all the normal Vonnegut adjectives apply here, though I’d say there’s less randomness than in some of his other work (looking at you BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS).

Can’t say too much except that the main character’s status as a double-agent in WWII who’s disavowed by the US only to be put on trial by Israel -- ugh. It’s a moral quagmire with a profoundly satisfying ending.

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Review: Reservation Blues

Reservation Blues
Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thomas-Builds-a-Fire is one of the greatest characters in 20th century literature. Period.

What a fantastic novel. Stronger than Alexie’s debut collection, RESERVATION BLUES explores similar territory with an even greater scope as he takes his compelling, hilarious, and tragic characters (Thomas-Builds-a-Fire, Victor, and Junior) off of the reservation while also bringing outsiders onto it. The result is a convincing portrayal of the complex status his characters find themselves in: eroded connections to family (often fathers), white culture’s simultaneous fetishizing and dismissing of Native American culture, the fine line between advancing the status of the nation and causing problems, as well as some great, subtle, connections linking the experience of Africans and Native Americans.

Overall, this novel should be the one people suggest when recommending Alexie to those who prefer novels (THE LONE RANGER AND TONTO FISTFIGHT IN HEAVEN is a great book but might not be as cohesive for people who already bristle at short stories, even though there’s plenty of character overlap).

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