Wrap Up: April 2019 or hell weeks.

I feel like a broken record at this point, but I had a month from hell. Term started (and everything that could go wrong, did go wrong) and I moved into a new place (which I am SO excited about but it still looks like a bomb exploded) and my reading really suffered. I did not have the mental capacity to read for most days.

Books I read in March:

  1. Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott: 2 out of 5 stars (review)
  2. Normal People by Sally Rooney: 5 out of 5 stars (review)
  3. Allegiance of Honor (Psy-Changeling #15) by Nalini Singh: 2 out of 5 stars
  4. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones: 2.5 out of 5 stars (review)
  5. Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li: 2 out of 5 stars (review)

Favourite of the Month:

Obviously Normal People by Sally Rooney. This makes this the second month in a row when one of her books blew my mind. I cannot wait to see what she does next! (Part of me is keeping my fingers crossed for a short story collection because just imagine the brilliance she can deliver in that format.)

Continue reading “Wrap Up: April 2019 or hell weeks.”

Review: Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott

36203384Verdict: Indulgent.

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Genre: Literary Fiction.

Published by Hutchinson, June 2018.

Find it on Goodreads.

They told him everything.

He told everyone else.

Over countless martini-soaked Manhattan lunches, they shared their deepest secrets and greatest fears. On exclusive yachts sailing the Mediterranean, on private jets streaming towards Jamaica, on Yucatán beaches in secluded bays, they gossiped about sex, power, money, love and fame. They never imagined he would betray them so absolutely.

In the autumn of 1975, after two decades of intimate friendships, Truman Capote detonated a literary grenade, forever rupturing the elite circle he’d worked so hard to infiltrate. Why did he do it, knowing what he stood to lose? Was it to punish them? To make them pay for their manners, money and celebrated names? Or did he simply refuse to believe that they could ever stop loving him? Whatever the motive, one thing remains indisputable: nine years after achieving wild success with In Cold Blood, Capote committed an act of professional and social suicide with his most lethal of weapons . . . Words.

A dazzling debut about the line between gossip and slander, self-creation and self-preservation, SWAN SONG is the tragic story of the literary icon of his age and the beautiful, wealthy, vulnerable women he called his Swans.

‘Writers write. And one can’t be surprised if they write what they know.’

I am in two minds about this book: while I thought there were moments of brilliance, overall I found it indulgent, tedious, and way too long. Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcotts sets out to retell Truman Capote’s final years from the perspectives of his ‘Swans’, high society ladies he first befriended and then betrayed.

The strength of this book for me was hands-down the narrative choice to tell the story from a we-perspective, reminiscent of Greek choruses. As such she creates a cacophony of voices and competing narrative strands that I enjoyed. Listening to the audiobook worked really well for this facet of the story. I found some of these stories, especially Slim’s and Babe’s compelling and interesting to follow – but there were some women I just could not tell apart; they blended together in a picture of overwhelming privilege. I think Greenberg-Jephcott set out to make these women sympathetic victims of Capote’s scheming – but for this to work they have to be just that: sympathetic. But it is difficult to feel for people whose whole lives seem to revolve around gossip (who wore the wrong dress to whose party on a yacht is also not particularly interesting gossip).

The book would have been altogether a lot better had it been a lot shorter; as I said, I really enjoyed the narration and for the first two hours I found the glib narrative voice charming and interesting. But once it got old, it got really old and then I had to spent hours upon hours listening to what read for vast stretches like a gossip column. Had the book been 200 pages shorter and more focused on the compelling Swans (yes, Babe and Slim but also CZ and Gloria), I could have really loved this book.

By biggest problem, however, was Capote’s characterization. Come to think about it, cutting his parts nearly completely would have made for a much more interesting reading experience. While I know next to nothing about the man and he might very well have been awful, I found the gleeful hatefulness in which he is described both uncomfortable and uninteresting. He is referred to throughout the book as “the boy”, we are constantly hit on the head about his height (or rather, lack of height) to in a way that just felt unnecessary and steeped in deeply disturbing ideas about masculinity, and calling him repeatedly “the fag” or “the kobold” or variations thereof is offensive and pointless.

I am reading the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist this year. My current ranking is as follows:

  1. The Pisces by Melissa Broder (review)
  2. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi (review)
  3. Milkman by Anna Burns (review)
  4. Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss (review)
  5. Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn (review)
  6. Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott
  7. Praise Song for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden (review)

 

Wrap Up: March 2019 or hello, Women’s Prize Longlist

I think this is the month I have blogged the least since I started. But I am still reading at my normal pace and I think I just need to be ok with the fact that I don’t have a lot of time for blogging at the moment. My decision to stop writing reviews for everything I read has helped me immensely to not lose my blogging mojo.

Books I read in March:

  1. Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney: 5 out of 5 stars (review)
  2. The Playmaker by Cathryn Fox: unrated.
  3. The Sheikh’s Pregnant Lover by Leslie North: unrated.
  4. The Bastard by Lisa Renee Jones: unrated.
  5. Milkman by Anna Burns: 3 out of 5 stars (review)
  6. Praise Song for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden: 1,5 out of 5 stars (review)
  7. Heart of Obsidian (Psy-Changeling #12) by Nalini Singh: 4 out of 5 stars
  8. Wild Embrace (A Psy-Changeling Collection) by Nalini Singh: 3 out of 5 stars
  9. Shield of Winter (Psy-Changeling #13) by Nalini Singh: 4 out of 5 stars
  10. Wild Invitation (A Psy-Changeling Collection) by Nalini Singh: 3 out of 5 stars
  11. Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn: 2 out of 5 stars (rtc)

Favourite of the Month:

Conversations With Friends, hands down. I am still so very much in awe of this book that I don’t think any other book will top the reading experience for me any time soon.

Continue reading “Wrap Up: March 2019 or hello, Women’s Prize Longlist”