How much of you, your experiences, your personality, is your characters? Continue reading “Interview with Stephanie Suga Chen”
I came by the Carrot Man by Theo A Gerken via a really bad review. Someone declared that it was the worst book that she’d ever read.
In truth, it’s far more complex than that. It’s a well written book. Experimental and inventive and, thankfully, short. Continue reading “Review: The Carrot Man”
Being an expat in Singapore myself, I was instantly drawn to Stephanie Suga Chen’s Travails of a Trailing Spouse. Without a decapitated corpse or brutalised domestic worker in sight, Stephanie’s book offers a fresh perspective on the lives of women (and occasionally men) who move to Singapore with their partners and find themselves willingly or unwillingly unemployed. Continue reading “Review: Travails of a Trailing Spouse”
Body and Soul is heavy. Stories of abuse, poverty and failed parenting are always difficult to read and more so Ryan Guth’s book attempts to tackle the issue in poetry. He does it well. Cassandra’s story is painful and poignant. He creates her setting, a delinquent father and abusive grandfather and a mother in pursuit of love. Guth follows Cassandra as she falls apart and then as she tries to repair her life. Cassandra’s identity disorder adds stimulating dimensions to her experience and to Guth narrative.
Guth’s poetry is glorious: spare and powerful. However, the amalgamation of narrative forms at times takes away from the story and causes some confusion for the reader.
Overall, I highly recommend Body and Soul – with a caveat – it is not light reading. It will work well for fans of The Basketball Diaries. It’s the type of book best read in silence with few distractions. It will leave you thoughtful and will stay with you for a while.
Author: Ryan Guth
Available: Body and Soul
Brunch at Ruby’s had me captivated from the first page. DL White brings her three protagonists; Renee, Maxine and Debra, to life with distinct voices and vivid personalities. Best friends for thirty years, they’ve watched each other grow, accompanied each other through the ups and downs of life and always returning to Ruby’s diner in their home town of Atlanta.
I loved it. Beginning with a poorly-thought-through affair, the book takes us through a period in these women’s lives so turbulent that they each stand to lose what they love the most.
Of the relationships explored in this novel, certainly the most poignant is that between Renee and her father, Bernard, as they struggle with his early onset Alzheimer’s. We watch as Renee watches his condition deteriorate and as she tries to make room for herself in her own life.
Ultimately, Brunch at Ruby’s is about three different love stories – the best part. Yet at the same time it explores the multi-faceted nature of a modern woman, in this case a black woman’s, experience as a mother, lover, carer and entrepreneur.
The book’s strength is how well each of the main characters personalities are developed and conveyed. Its weak point is a needlessly drawn out ending. Nonetheless, this is a novel that deserves a much wider audience.
For the women of Weeping Women Springs, mourning has become a way of life. The author, Tamara Eaton, lets you into their world which she fills with details of a seemingly normal existence.
Perhaps the books strongest point is Ms Eaton’s ability to bring its setting to life. She describes it until we can see the world the women inhabit and place them perfectly within it. A tiny rural town in the 1940s and 1950s is vivid in the reader’s mind.
It’s a fascinating tale, reminiscent of Kazuo Ishiguro’s ‘Never Let Me Go’: the springs are a device for an exploration of human emotion, the nature of grief and the impact on war on those that are left behind. Within this microcosm, we meet women such as Ruth, who has a yearning for the outside world, Anna, whose grief is unspoken and perhaps the hardest to bear. We watch the women do what’s necessary to create lives for themselves while retaining a place for their lost boys and men in their hearts.
At times, the women’s voices lost their distinctiveness and it was difficult to discern their personalities but overall Weeping Women Springs is a highly recommendable read.
Author: Tamara Eaton
Available: Weeping Women Springs
Hello from Singapore!
I’m Agatha and I’ll be exploring books from outside mainstream reviews’ attention. Some will only be available as ebooks, some may be from indie presses and hopefully, some will have been published here in Singapore.
Thank you so much for joining me on my reading adventure.