First Batch of Mini Reviews

the gravity of birds, night film, the secret history, the last girlfriend on earth

I’ve read several books over the past few weeks that, either because of the nature of my review or the book itself, seem better off compressed into a quick synopsis and a few thoughts rather than a full review.

The Gravity of Birds by Tracy Guzeman (for review from publisher)
Single Line Synopsis: A reclusive artist allows pieces from his past to be put on display, but requires that the missing sisters featured in his art be found and contacted first. 

Thoughts: The writing in The Gravity of Birds is quite beautiful, but the novel is very much a slow build. There are several interwoven stories that take some time to develop and, though the pace of the book definitely picks up once everything is revealed, I had a difficult time getting fully engrossed. 

The Last Girlfriend on Earth by Simon Rich
Single Line Synopsis: Quirky short stories centered on looking for, finding and losing love. 

Thoughts: As someone who very rarely reads or enjoys a short story collection, I was a little apprehensive picking up The Last Girlfriend on Earth, but couldn’t resist it after all the great reviews I kept reading. And they were right. So right. Simon Rich has put together a collection of stories, some as short as a single page, that captures all the joy and sadness of relationships with tons of humor and just the right amount of sappy romance. His stories have great variety: some are fairly straightforward, while others push readers to the edge of strangeness. At just 213 pages, The Last Girlfriend on Earth is a quick collection of witty tales, perfect for short story newbies. 

Night Film by Marisha Pessl (for review from publisher)
Single Line Synopsis: When the daughter of a filmmaker famous for his terrifyingly realistic films dies of an apparent suicide, a journalist begins the dangerous task of digging into the secrets behind the camera in search of the truth.

Thoughts: When early reviews for Night Film started coming in and I was repeatedly seeing chilling, twisty and haunting, I just knew it was the book for me. Cult films and novels with endless plot twists, even those left unanswered, are right in my wheelhouse so my excitement level for Night Film was sky high.

I think much of that excitement contributed to my feeling of disappointment as I finished reading. While I still enjoyed the book, it certainly didn’t live up to the expectations I had going in. Pessl’s work in creating a backstory for Cordova is breathtaking and, as the story progressed, I kept hoping she would use that great imagination as a building block for some incredible twist. In the end, the novel’s reveal fell flat with its ambiguity too expected. I was holding out hope for something equally as impressive as Cordova’s filmography, but never found it.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Single Line Synopsis: A group of six Greek scholars at a small New England college seclude themselves from their peers, gradually becoming dependent on one another to keep the dark secrets they begin to harbor.

Thoughts: The Secret History has been sitting on my bookshelf for quite some time and I finally squeezed it in, thanks to the readalong at A Home Between Pages. Phew. Believe the hype! There’s a reason people are basically selling their souls to get their hands on a copy of The Goldfinch. Tartt’s writing is just unbelievable. But she also manages to build this wonderfully paced story that keeps you on edge through all 559 pages, which is not an easy task. The Secret History feels like a modern classic, at least to me.