Tag Archives: © 2022 Book Chatter

Review: The Last Chairlift

The Last Chairlift

The Last Chairlift
By John Irving
Simon & Schuster, 9781501189272, October 2022, 912pp.

The Short of It:

It’s been a long time I’ve read Irving but his new book does not disappoint.

The Rest of It:

Rachel Brewster is a slalom skier at the National Downhill and Slalom Championships in 1941. Due to her slight stature, she’s known as Little Ray. Although she’s well-known for her skill on the slopes, she doesn’t come close to winning a medal. Back home in New England, she becomes a ski instructor and has a son named Adam. The son who was conceived while at the Championship.

Little Ray and Adam are part of a very unique family. Although Little Ray had relations which resulted in her pregnancy, Little Ray’s partner is actually her long-time friend Molly. Another friend, Elliot, who happens to be small like Little Ray, is a cross-dresser that is near and dear to everyone, including Adam. In fact, Adam goes out of his way to protect Elliot when his secret is discovered.

If you think this is quite the cast of characters, then you’d be right and that’s not even the half of it! There is also Em, who doesn’t speak but pantomimes what she wants to say, nosy Aunts who are obsessed with Adam’s sexual preferences, oh, and ghosts. Ghosts.

Adam is a writer so some of the story is left up to the reader. Is it fiction that Adam created or is it actually part of his story? The ghosts he sees at the Jerome Hotel could be real, or they could be part of his plot. You see what I mean?

This is a wild ride of a story. At 900 pages, I really couldn’t predict how the story would end or where these characters would end up. What I can tell you is that Irving’s knack for character development is very strong and he continues to use his platform to make some political statements. The entire last part of the book was political. That said, this was probably one of the most unique stories I’ve read in a really long time.

I can’t emphasize enough how unique this story is. It’s a love story, a ghost story, and ripe with sexual politics. These characters will stay with me for a very long time.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Novelist as a Vocation

Novelist as a Vocation

Novelist as a Vocation
By Haruki Murakami
Translated by Philip Gabriel & Ted Goossen
Knopf, 9780451494641, November2022, 224pp.

The Short of It:

Fans of Murakami will enjoy this personal look at writing from his point of view.

The Rest of It:

If you’ve been around me for awhile then you know how much I love Murakami. I wait around, endlessly for new books to be translated and when they are, I have been known to beg and plead for a review copy. This was no exception.

Novelist as a Vocation is a collection of short essays about how he came to be a novelist. It touches on process but it’s more about the internal dialogue he had with himself about becoming a writer. One day, he just decided he was going to write a novel. He didn’t feel all that equipped to do so but he was a dedicated reader, and knew what he liked to read and felt that he had stories to tell. That’s it.

Some of his earlier works were not a big hit, at first. His short fiction pieces that were published in the New York Times is what made his name known in literary circles and from there, his fan base grew. His odd characters and fantastical story elements have found a place in my heart His writing is what I call a “palate cleanser”.  I read all types of books but when I need a reset, I reach for Murakami. I often have to settle for a re-read since the translation process usually means books are about 3-4 years apart.

I was surprised at how much he shares in this new book. He is usually pretty private. An everyday guy, doing everyday things, who just happens to be an award winning author but he lets us in with this one. As readers we see his insecurities at play. I do believe that being vulnerable is what makes his stories so unique.  His imagination and character development have no boundaries. I love this about him.

If you are curious about Murakami and have never read one of his novels, pick up Kafka on the Shore or The Windup Bird Chronicle. These two books will give you a very good idea of his writing style. After that, you will want to know more about him as a novelist. That’s where Novelist as a Vocation comes in. Recommend.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.