Posts tagged ‘New York’

August 8, 2016

My Name is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout

by Team Riverside

Hardback, Penguin Viking, £12.99, out nowElizabeth Strout MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON

Lucy is in hospital in New York, separated from her husband and young children while her illness rumbles on.  Her mother, who she has not seen for many years, comes to visit her, staying by her bedside for several days.  The reasons for the physical and emotional distance in the relationship, and the significance of this brief but intense time of conditional reconnection, are illuminated beautifully in this short and powerful novel.

Strout is sharp and sometimes funny, not only on family relationships but on New York life generally: “I have gone to places in this city where the very wealthy go.  One place is a doctor’s office.  Women, and a few men, sit in the waiting room for the doctor who will make them look not old or worried or like their mother”.  But the heart of the book is about the shame and stories of family life, and how we can suddenly be reimmersed in these at moments of strain.  Strangely comforting and always interesting, the revelations keep coming right to the end.

I’m now keen to read her earlier work, Olive Kitteridge, having been overwhelmed by the television version with Frances McDormand.  My Name is Lucy Barton well deserves its place on the Booker Prize Longlist, along with the excellent Hot Milk (https://theriversideway.wordpress.com/2016/07/05/hot-milk-by-deborah-levy/).

Review by Bethan

December 2, 2013

All That Is: James Salter

by Stuart

Collected Stories also available – £18.99 hardback

James Salter ALL THAT ISAfter a 34-year break from the novel form, 88 year-old former US fighter pilot/Hollywood screenwriter/living legend James Salter made a triumphant return this year with All That Is. Much touted by the press here as “the greatest American novelist you’ve never heard of,” Salter’s ‘final’ book is a breathtaking masterclass in gleaming-perfect sentences and beautifully controlled, utterly heartbreaking drama.

It traces the adult life of ‘Philip Bowman’, from his harrowing experiences in the navy in WWII, through his long and complicated love life and career in the bygone glory days of New York publishing. Births, marriages and deaths come and go, and not only is there loads of sex; it’s also some of the best we’ve ever seen in print. What’s not to like? All That Is is a perfect panacea of a Christmas present: if you know anyone who likes good fiction, this is for them.