Fresh Complaint by Jeffrey Eugenides

Curtis Sittenfeld’s You Think It, I’ll Say It is a tough act to follow on the short-story front but nonetheless, I figured Jeffrey Eugenides’s first collection, Fresh Complaint, would be a reasonable bet.

The collection opens with Complainers, a gentle story about the decades-long friendship between two women, and how their relationship changes when one is diagnosed with dementia. I feel like I’m reading about dementia at every turn at the moment, but Eugenides’s take on it from the perspective of a friend was refreshingly different.

Dementia isn’t a nice word. It sounds violent, invasive, like having a demon scooping out pieces of your brain which in fact is just what it is. Continue reading

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The Rules of Engagement by Anita Brookner

A conversation overheard in 1975…

Richard Yates: I usually write about men but I’m thinking I’ll do something about a miserable woman…

Anita Brookner: Well Dick, one knows that there’s plenty of material when it comes to miserable women.

RY: And so many tempting themes around misery…

AB (laughing): Misery loves company!

RY: Loneliness, bitterness, regret, jealousy…

AB: Yes, the truly miserable woman has it all. Continue reading

A Family Romance by Anita Brookner

Five things I thought while listening to A Family Romance by Anita Brookner:

01. I can rely on Brookner for the sort of consistency that I love in Yates or Taylor.

02. So, so glad that there’s a bunch of Brookner on my library’s BorrowBox list and that it’s narrated by Fiona Shaw (whose voice has just enough plum to provide deeply satisfying listening). Continue reading

Six Degrees of Separation – from Picnic at Hanging Rock to Love in a Cold Climate

It’s time for #6degrees. It’s unquestionably the least demanding bookish meme on the interwebs, so join in!

This month we begin with Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock (thanks to Brona for the suggestion). My first link is to Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, Born to Run. That might seem an unlikely link but I’ve seen Springsteen twice in the last few years, and both times Hanging Rock was the backdrop. Continue reading