Tag Archives: Fiction

Review: Men Without Women (Stories)

Men Without Women

Men Without Women
By Haruki Murakami, Translated by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen
Knopf Publishing Group, Hardcover, 9780451494627, May 9, 2017, 240pp.

The Short of It:

A collection of stories that embody everything you love about Murakami.

The Rest of It:

Murakami’s new book came out in Japan not long ago but those of us in the US must wait for the translation before we can eagerly dive in.  Somehow, the Murakami Gods heard our cries and delivered to us a “new” story collection to tide us over.

However, it’s not all new.

One story in particular, which also happened to be my favorite, previously appeared in The New Yorker. As I was reading Scheherazade,  it was vaguely familiar to me but you know what, it really didn’t matter that I had read it before because every time I pick up Murakami’s work, there’s always something new to discover.

You know that feeling you get when you walk into a bookstore and there is a finely curated shelf full of recommendations? That’s how I feel about this collection. I don’t know how much input he actually had in putting these stories together, but they all complement one another and include everything you love about Murakami. The angst, the food talk, the weird little quirks and it was just good to get this little taste of Murakami before the big release of his new book. This collection centers on men and their relationships with women. Some of the stories are more complex than others but all of them leave you pondering relationships in general.

Murakami is what I recommend any time someone says they are in a reading rut and I think many of you have read some of his books based on my eternal gushing. BUT IF YOU HAVEN’T,  you must. I can’t accurately describe the feeling I get when I read one of his books but there’s this sense of one-ness that comes over me and suddenly nothing matters but the story in front of me.

Read this collection and then read Killing Commendatore when it comes out. No details on the US release as of yet.

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

Review: The Barrowfields

The Barrowfields

The Barrowfields
By Phillip Lewis
Hogarth Press, Hardcover, 9780451495648, March 2017, 368pp.

The Short of It:

A father and son story but really a story about family relationships and what it means to come home.

The Rest of It:

Henry Aster’s father returns to the small Appalachian town where he grew up and moves his family into a house with a past. The dark, immense home was once the scene of a grisly murder involving young children. Its looming presence foreshadowing the unraveling of the family to come.

From the description it sounds like a ghost story and maybe it is but not the kind you’d be expecting. This story focuses on the relationship between father and son, missed-opportunities, and at its heart, how we process grief and loss.

After a terrible loss, Henry’s father, a brilliant man trying to reinvent himself as a writer, struggles with what he’s been dealt. The entire family struggles with him but in different ways. Instead of coming together, they push each other away and it’s incredibly heartbreaking to witness.

There is a lot of good to be had in this novel. The writing is lovely but the Asters are readers so there are plenty of literary references that I jotted down. I love when books mention other books. But what I really loved was the slow build of what eventually causes the family to fall apart. There is a lot of tension in this novel which made the page turns go that much faster.

However, one section of the novel strayed from the main story which seemed a little out of left field but I was very happy to see how it fit into the story as a whole once I got to the end of the book. The final pages are gold. I reread them many times and loved them to pieces.

One of my favorite books of all time is A Separate Peace by John Knowles and although The Barrowfields is nothing like that book in story, the “coming-of-age” aspect of this novel reminds me a lot of A Separate Peace and yes, maybe even the main character reminds me of it, too.

I say, read it.

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