I try to follow the old adage about not judging a book by its cover, but the blurbs on the back of this first novel by former nun Christin Lore Weber put me on guard. Mary Gordon, Karen Armstrong and Sheri Reynolds--concerned about how Christianity stifles women, especially when it comes to sexuality--offer their praise.
The Prodigal Son may have left home because home was permeated with a fainthearted love-a prudent and stunted love-that made him want to get away. So suggests Jerome Strozzi, the main character of this novel by the late Jean Sulivan. "After we pass through the valley where souls are formed, there will no longer be families, but only persons-that is to say, friends.
In this novel, perhaps his masterpiece, J. M. Coetzee emerges as the most old-fashioned kind of literary genius: a person whose strong imagination is guided by firm and deeply held beliefs. Coetzee's powerful style, admired so much for its own sake, seems to grow from these beliefs.
Franzen has turned his considerable novelistic talents to a kind of inquisitorial examination of the American ideal of freedom. He shows how freedom is negatively construed—focused on what we are free from and not on what freedom might be for, what worthy ends it might be used to pursue.
All the lonely people, where do they all come from? That question from “Eleanor Rigby” might serve as the epigraph for the works of Douglas Coupland. Coupland is the Canadian writer who burst on the scene in 1991 with Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, thereby coining the term for his generation.
Mary Doria Russell’s novels include intricately drawn characters who explore life’s deepest and most troubling questions. She is perhaps best known for her first novel, The Sparrow (1996), and its sequel, Children of God (1998), about human contact with aliens on a space mission organized by Jesuits.
Why do we expect more than one terrific book from a writer? Isn’t one superb book enough? Razzing Frank McCourt for making cheerful, thin books that aren’t Angela’s Ashes and ragging Ken Kesey for all the later muck that wasn’t One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest—isn’t that unfair?