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As many of you know, I am prone to motion sickness in situations involving a lot of motion, like transatlantic flight, or a little motion, like sitting on a swing; it is made far worse by attempting to read. I am also often captive to long subway rides out of my home borough of Queens and recently lent out my iPod, making my commutes miserable affairs. These facts, when taken together, explain why it took me a hundred years to read The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon. I carried it with me in my purse all summer to read while waiting for the train, would pack it up, get bored during the actual train ride and against my better judgement pull it out again, read for a few pages, feel horribly ill, pack it up again. There were no advantages to this scenario–I constantly felt sick, had to re-read a lot of chapters when I regained my faculties and was constantly flipping back and forth, trying to remember who certain characters were and what their place was in the story–it was stupid and did not do justice to what is, I think, a pretty great book.

The structure of The Lazarus Project is in some ways complex, but also fluid enough to give oneself over to without becoming lost. Read the rest of this entry »

I was taxed by this book. Some of the prose was about as good as it gets, the three complicated fifteen year old girls at its center had all the makings to be my favorite protagonists ever and it was twisted enough to keep me cringing through three hundred plus pages, but I couldn’t help wishing Joy Williams had hacked it all down into a fantastic, linear, concise short story. Or maybe four or five short stories—there is so much incredible material here that I would love to read all of it again, broken down and repackaged.

Now, I don’t shy away from complicated structures, expansive casts of characters, symbolism, surrealism. I don’t even shy away from all of those elements coexisting in the same book. But, when that book becomes so high-concept and convoluted that I don’t understand what is going on, it makes me wonder what we could have done without. This isn’t a rhetorical question, by the way—I would love feedback! This novel was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist, so I think that other people probably can make convincing arguments here. Read the rest of this entry »