Brief Book Reviews (2022)

For the most part, this page will reflect what I post about my reading on Goodreads. Frankly, what I’m posting are really brief notes, not book reviews.

In any case: Books that I receive as complimentary review copies will be noted as such. The most recent reading is listed first.

  • Aporia by Eric E. Hyett (Lily Poetry Review Press, 2022). Beautiful poems by a loving son, to/for his mother, also a poet, as together they confront her illness.
  • Brown Girls: A Novel by Daphne Palasi Andreades (Random House, 2022). A remarkable book, one that I need to mull over more. In the meantime, I’ll point you to the author’s conversation with Jenn Baker for the Minorities in Publishing podcast.
  • Wild Kingdom: Poems by Jehanne Dubrow (LSU Press, 2021). Beautiful work. A number of the poems depict academic life—not too favorably.
  • The Pessimists: A Novel by Bethany Ball (Grove Press, 2021). Bethany is a friend, so it was a special pleasure to devour this book this past weekend. I’ll point others to Ranen Omer-Sherman’s review of the novel for the Jewish Book Council, one of the few commentaries I’ve seen to date that remarks on the book’s treatment of antisemitism.
  • Meiselman: The Lean Years by Avner Landes (Tortoise Books, 2021). As the cover suggests, this is a book with a library connection: Protagonist Meiselman works as events and programs coordinator for a Chicago-area library. And there’s a major book-focused plotline, concerning a single author event, that runs through the novel. I’m always drawn to novels that are somehow embedded in a world of books, so I was happy to be offered a copy of this one. We spend the week-long narrative present of this novel (despite the book’s subtitle, only in flashback do we cover past “years”) lodged in the mind/perspective of the protagonist, and that can be an uncomfortable place to be. Certainly, Meiselman is not a happy guy. I imagine that he may evoke a range of responses in readers. He’s a flawed character, to be sure (my own reaction to him contains a large dose of pity). But one senses that the author understands this. I also sense that fans of the Chicago White Sox (and, um, Portnoy’s Complaint) may feel more immediately at home in Meiselman’s world than I did. I read in an interview that the author is currently at work on a novel set in Chicago, New York, and Israel. I will be eager to know when that one’s available.