The year’s literary titles

I thought it would be interesting to study the covers of the debut literary titles this year. I’ll give a shout to the three African writers on this list, Helen Oyeyemi, Teju Cole, who both are of Nigerian Descent, and Dinaw Minegetsu, who’s of Ethiopian descent. And surprise, surprise Larry McMurty, yep that one who wrote Lonesome Dove, is releasing something this year. I had had the impression that he was old and dead already.

Best Cover? The Man who Walked Away. The telescopic arrangement draws your eye.

Terrible looking Covers in my humble opinion:

Harlequin’s Million’s. Oh look my twelve-year-old wrote a book.

The Corpse Exhibition and other stories. Might good on hardback, but looks boring on an ebook cover.

One more thing. The cover artist must have been on vacation that week.

Can’t and Won’t. Forget the cover artist. I can haz type.

Faces in the Crowd. Adding a posted note doesn’t make the non descript picture of a subway interior more interesting.

Pushkin Hills. What could be more exciting than an empty chair and table in the middle of a field? And the icky orange  for the font?

Nine rabbits. The cover artist was on pot that week.

An Unnecessary Woman. Looks like an ad for a used book.

Which covers do you like best?  Which covers do you like the least?

Don’t forget to click on the covers to see the book descriptions on Amazon.

the antiquarianharlequins millions summer house with swimming poolthe great glass sea the man who walked away the wives of los alamos the divorce papers i am having so much fun here without you what is visible the visitors in paradise boy snow bird praying drunk all the light we cannot see the musuem of extraordinary things the possibilities the sun and other stars the spinning heart worst person ever the corpse exhibition the last kind woods saloon the unamerican stories redeployment everyday is for the thief kinder than solitude the quick wynne's war all our names bark one more thing frog music to rise again at a decent hour three by echenoz the good luck of right now a replacement life four friends the book of jonah snow in may hyde wonderland
inappropriate behaviorin the course of human events pushkin hills faces in the crowd thunderstruck and other stories close your eyes hold handsamerican innovations can't and won't the snow queen the bees the girls of august karate chop song of the shank an unnecessary woman all the rage 413IG2ug3HL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ nine rabbitssworn virgin acts of god

Don’t forget to click on the covers to see the book descriptions on Amazon.

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Kinder than Solitude by Yiyun Li–A Review

 

Click to see on Amazon

Kinder Than Solitude is a book that I received from NetGalley in exchange for my unbiased review. The story opens with the death of Shaiao, whose poisoning led to her lingering in a vegetative state for twenty years before succumbing. The mystery of her poisoning is connected to a group of three Chinese friends, Ruyu, Boyang and Moran.

The book cycles through the three viewpoint characters between the past when Shaoia was alive just around the time of Tiananmen Square Protests and the present immediately after her death. Although the book is labeled a mystery, it isn’t a traditional mystery because no one’s on a quest to solve the mystery. Instead we get the minute to minute ruminations, tedious conversations, angsty wanderings of the three characters. There’s a lot of angst, a lot of sadness and passivity, and the lot of the reasons cannot be excused away lightly due to tragedy or bad circumstances. The reasons are a lot stupider–the characters are simply unable to see beyond the dark prison of themselves for the light of cheer. Yes, the writing is crisp and Yiyun’s observations are piquant and perspicacious, but really the story is joyless little tale of profoundly miserable characters. And in the end the twist on mystery doesn’t save the book from its drudgery, as the culprit is still whom you expected it to be all along.

Every page has a quotable passage, and not the jejune hallmark offerings either, but highlight a penetrating analysis of the human heart. Either way, the preponderance of resonant observation could not save the lot of dialogue from feeling tedious. Every occasion of dialogue turns into the most dreary interrogation because everyone questions everyone else’s motives over the most trivial things. For instance, if someone said hello, the other person would ask, “why are you telling me hello?” the other would reply, “Are you saying there’s something wrong about asking hello?” and on and on they would go.

Why is this book three stars, not two? The writing. Yiyun Li has talent nevertheless that shines on every page, but dear God the characters …. It felt like such a waste.

Still I’d say you should read Kinder Than Solitude because the profundity of Yiyun Li’s writing is worth it.

by Wando Wande