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jcunningham

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Ermahgerd. Berks.

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Caliban's War
James S.A. Corey
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The Shining Girls

Great House

Great House - So I say again: writing a book of short stories, fitting them together Tetris-like, and calling it a novel DOES NOT MAKE YOUR BOOK A NOVEL. Also telling your publisher to put "a novel" on the cover after the title DOES NOT MAKE YOUR BOOK A NOVEL. If you write a collection of short stories, IT IS OK TO CALL IT A COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES. Because you are Nicole Krauss, especially, because you will probably STILL BE NOMINATED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD. ***(EDIT: But YOU WON'T WIN, thankfully! Lord of Misrule will win.)***This is a very well written book throughout, meaning sentence by sentence. Nicole Krauss can string words together effortlessly, can create haunting and memorable imagery through evocative metaphors you'd never dream of. But... all those sentences didn't add up to much of anything for me. It definitely feels like the form is what interests her, but the Big Idea (interconnected stories that are all related to the perhaps malovelent presence of an imposing desk, its many tiny drawers standing in for the melodramatic seekrits! and secret pains of its many owners) obscures the characters.It sounds interesting, but it isn't. It's monotonous, and confusing. Puzzling out the structure is a pain in the neck because the stories, each with a different narrator, all sound the same, whether the speaker is a middle-aged American woman or an elderly male Hungarian Jew. Everyone mopes about the WEIGHT OF MEMORY (this was probably explained to me on the jacket copy because I honestly had a hard enough time concentrating on the plot), which is symbolized by furniture and also by how they constantly talk about their horrible memories. I don't have to like the characters, but not a one of them had much of a spark, which made reading about them distasteful AND dull.I can't say I'm surprised this was nominated for the National Book Award, but I am disappointed, because I think if it wins, a lot of extra people are going to read it, and a lot of them aren't going to like it. And I read a lot of other books this year, books that weren't nominated, that I think would benefit from the extra attention and might also be a lot less likely to alienate readers. For all of the depth of talent on display in the prose, this is an oddly lifeless book, and I don't see it connecting with most readers, even "serious readers."In conclusion: I would not recommend Great House: A Collection of Stories and I certainly don't recommend Great House: A Novel.