Archives For Novel

 

 

Can the Original be Reimagined?

 
A Feature Review of 
 

Vinegar Girl: A Novel
Anne Tyler

Paperback: Hogarth Books, 2016
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 
Reviewed by Cara Meredith

 
 

Yesterday afternoon, my son and I snuggled together at the local movie theater for the newly released Pixar feature, Finding Dory. While Dory – who might just be my spirit animal – did not disappoint, I couldn’t help but wonder about most of the preview trailers. Could Ghostbusters, Adventures in Babysitting and Pete’s Dragon, all favorites of mine from the late 70’s and 80’s, actually be reimagined into something better than the original?

I scanned the darkened room, hoping to lock eyes with another parent who understood my dilemma. But I was alone. The rest of the audience did as they were supposed to do: they stared straight ahead at the screen, absorbed in the entertainment.

It’s the same for us today.

You see, I can’t help but ask a similar question of Anne Tyler’s newest release, Vinegar Girl: can the original, a modernized retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, really be improved upon?

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Binding Wounds

A Review of 

All I Once Held: A Novel
Gaylynne Sword

 
Paperback: Quoir Books, 2015
Buy now: [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle

 

Reviewed by Amber Peace

 

In the current media, it’s difficult to not see stories and opinions of families falling apart. It’s almost with a sick glee the Duggars have been set upon by all walks of people on social media. Scores of church leaders will be admitting to having accounts on the adultery-focused website Ashley Madison in coming weeks. Finally, one of the last Christian communes from the Jesus Movement is facing accusations of cult-like behavior and abuse. In a sickeningly fast amount of time, the news and most people will forget these stories. There will be more scandal to keep the 24-hour reels going. The people and families involved will not forget. They will still be grieving and picking up pieces.
 
Regardless of if you believe in chance, fate, or a combination them, Gaylynne Sword’s All I Once Held has come out at good time. It is so easy to dehumanize the people we see on television and in other media outlets. While there is nothing inherently wrong with being disgusted with sin, what is sorrow and a broken heart for everyone involved. Perpetrators need the healing love of Christ and we are those hands and feet that give body to redemption. Further, it is the fear of shame and the need of pride that keeps the problems growing. When an affair happens, it needs to be addressed. The spouse doesn’t need to put on a happy face and take the blame. When depression hits at 10am, those who love them need to recognize medical intervention is necessary. Having joy in the Lord may not be all the medication a person needs.
 
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Charles Dickens

This is the latest post in a series that will, in effect, create a library of classics that are available as free ebooks.

Check out the full library to date here….

As tomorrow is the birthday of Charles Dickens, we focus here on the best of his works. We have selected the following books as recommended reading.

 

We are encouraging our readers to mix up their reading habits, and read (or re-read) classics in addition to new books, such as the ones we review here in the ERB.

Broadly speaking, a classic is any book that is not a new book, or in other words that is worth reading five, ten or even one hundred years after its initial publication. ERB Editor Chris Smith has an article on The Huffington Post website arguing for reading a mix of classics and new books.

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Marilynne Robinson

For many of our readers, the most anticipated book of 2014 is Marilynne Robinson’s new novel LILA, the third in her series set in Gilead, Iowa.

 
“This third of three novels set in the fictional plains town of Gilead, Iowa, is a masterpiece of prose in the service of the moral seriousness that distinguishes Robinson’s work . . . Lila is a superb creation.”  – Publishers Weekly
 

[ Top 10 Online Recordings of Marilynne Robinson ]

*** Books by Marilynne Robinson

 
You can now get a sneak peek of LILA! 
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Reality, dream, story: where does one end and the next begin?
 

A Feature Review of

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage: A Novel

Haruki Murakami

Hardback:  A.A. Knopf, 2014
Buy now:   [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
Reviewed by Janet Ursel
 
Haruki Murakami’s much-heralded new novel is out and I decided for once to jump on a bandwagon. It was an intriguing book, and it is easy to see why he generates such a buzz.

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Over the Depths of the Sea

 

A Review of

The Light and the Dark: A Novel
Mikhail Shishkin

Hardback: Quercus Books, 2014
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Meghan Florian

 

Those readers who appreciate the great Russian novelists of the past cannot, I would argue, deny that these author’s works are often a vast undertaking. In length, number of characters, variations of names, depth of thought, and reflection on the human condition as the writer understands it — authors such as Fyodor Dostoevsky ask a great deal of their readers (just as they did of themselves as writers, it seems to me). Those who are willing to sit with such works, to read slowly and ponder the narrative long after they’ve gone cover to cover with the book itself, can never quite be sure what they’ll find.

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A Dystopia… Or Not?

A Feature Review of

On Such a Full Sea: A Novel

Chang-rae Lee

Hardback: Riverhead, 2014
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Philip Zoutendam

Dystopian. That’s what got me to the bookstore for this novel. Good novel, very good novel, even excellent novel, and I can wait for second-hand or maybe even a library copy. But a dystopian novel—some future world falling apart for being too tightly held together—will get hardcover price from me. (Which is why I have a hardcover box set of The Hunger Games, though I couldn’t bear to finish them.)

 

A curious thing about this particular “dystopian novel”: there is no doubt, from the first chapter, that it is an excellent novel, but there is a lot of room to question whether it actually is a dystopian one.

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20th Century Fiction

This is the latest post in a series that will, in effect, create a library of classics that are available as free ebooks.

Most recent post: [ Science ]
1st post in this series: [ Classics of Ancient History ]

This week we focus on 20th Century Fiction. We have selected the following books as recommended reading.

We are encouraging our readers to mix up their reading habits, and read (or re-read) classics in addition to new books, such as the ones we review here in the ERB.

Broadly speaking, a classic is any book that is not a new book, or in other words that is worth reading five, ten or even one hundred years after its initial publication. ERB Editor Chris Smith has an article on The Huffington Post website arguing for reading a mix of classics and new books in 2013.


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Coming to Terms with our Alienation

 A Feature Review of

The Lowland: A Novel

Jhumpa Lahiri

Hardback: Knopf, 2013
Buy now:   [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

 

Reviewed by D.L. Mayfield

 

Remember that the revolution is the important thing, and that each one of us alone is worth nothing—Che Guevara, in a last letter to his children

 

Lahiri quotes Che near the end of her book, the long and quiet and powerful novel The Lowland. It is a shocking sentence, written by severe and resolute revolutionary, and the reader feels the sorrow of the intended recipients, the children of the soon-to-be-lost-forever father. By this time, at the end of the story of two brothers and the women in their lives, we are apt to spot the sorrow lurking everywhere. As the novel elegantly slides back and forth between perspectives, time marching on and then doubling back on itself, we slowly start to understand these basic ideologies that drive and fail the characters. Revolutionary actions are born out of the pain of inequality; duty and obligation are seen as a means to transcend the chaos of life; people become inward and closed-off, unable to count their blessing still they are almost all gone. It is a novel about separate lives, coming together and crashing apart.

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Here is our list of 2013′s Englewood Honor Books, the Best Books of the year for the life and flourishing of the Church.

 
Our criterion both for selecting books to review and for honoring the year’s best books is to choose books that are “for the life and flourishing of the Church” – i.e., books that energize us to be the local community of God’s people that God has called us to be and that nurture our mission of following in the way of God’s reconciliation of all things (in all its broadness!)
 
This list originally appeared in our Advent 2013 print issue.  For this issue, our Art Editor, Brent Aldrich depicted the covers of the year’s very best books as Christmas cookies. We are delighted to share pictures of those cookies here.

2013 Book of the Year:

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