Monday, December 5, 2011

Love and Shame and Love by Peter Orner


Alexander Popper can't stop remembering. Four years old when his father tossed him into Lake Michigan, he was told sink or swim, kid. In his mind, he's still bobbing in that frigid water. The rest of this novel's vivid cast of characters also struggle to remain afloat: popper's mother, stymied by an unhappy marriage, seeks solace in the relentless energy of Chicago; his brother, Leo, shadow boss of the family, retreats into books; paternal grandparents, Seymour and Bernice, once highfliers, now mourn for long-lost days; his father, a lawyer and would-be politician obsessed with his own success, fails to see that the family is falling apart; and his college girlfriend, the fiercely independent Kat, wrestles with hard choices.


Orner has a unique way of writing that I've really enjoyed. He has a talent for giving you tons of descriptive detail while at the same time giving you as little detail as possible. The perfect words are used to paint a picture in your head as you're reading. I also really liked that instead of being broken into chapters, it's broken into memories. This way, when an interruption arrives, you can easily finish the section you're reading before stopping.

The characters are intriguing and the writing was seamless. The only thing is that this novel was very easy to put down. There was nothing to keep me captivated enough to keep turning the pages. It’s a great book to take along where you can easily put it down but not when you sit down expecting to read a few hours. However, if you can stick with it, it's a very pleasurable read.

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The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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