Published by Harper, Riverhead Books
A weak correlation of books, I realize it, connecting the ‘M’ titles together in the Tournament of Books selections, but time is growing short. Today, I’m going to take a look at Moonglow, The Mothers, and Mister Monkey.
Moonglow by: Michael Chabon
Brief Synopsis: The author’s grandfather makes a deathbed confession about war, love, childrearing, and mental illness.
Brief Review: When a novel starts with the aside: “In preparing this memoir I have stuck to facts except when facts refuse to conform with memory, narrative purpose, or the truth as I understand it.” I know that I’m probably going to have a good time. (This was of course before KellyAnne Conway’s ‘alternative facts’ nonsense, but I digress.) I did find Moonglow to be pretty fun. It jumps around in time quite a bit and has inspired me to want to learn more about Werner von Braun and the Nazi development of rocket.
Brief Rating: Probably a solid three stars. Maybe more if you like Nazis and space.
The Mothers by: Brit Bennett
Brief Synopsis: An African-American girl growing up in California survives her mother committing suicide only to get pregnant too young. When she makes the choice to have an abortion, lives change.
Brief Review: Look. The writing in this book is gorgeous. The characters are well developed and believable. The story is interesting and compelling. My issue with this book is the fact that it feels a little preachy. Nadia’s pregnancy and subsequent abortion completely defines who she is through the entire novel. I’ve not had an abortion, but the literature of women who have cite that more often than not, this is not the case (see Katha Pollitt’s masterpiece Pro). Let me be fair by saying that I’m sure that it can be the case sometimes.
Brief Rating: Definitely at least four stars, if it hadn’t been so preachy on the abortion thing, it would have easily been five for me.
Mister Monkey by: Francine Prose
Brief Synopsis: A novel that details pieces of characters lives involved with an off-off-off Broadway production of a children’s musical: Mister Monkey.
Brief Review: While I didn’t find the comedy to be “effervescent” nor the prose to be “breathtaking”, but this novel is unique, if nothing else. I loved how Prose has a chapter told from the point of view of each character, randomly, spiraling farther and farther from the theatre troupe the reader would expect to be hearing from. This book is fun, a little wacky, and weirdly it has its deep and important moments.
Brief Rating: 3.5 stars or so, definitely worth a try, but probably won’t change your life.
The Tournament grows nigh, dear Reader! Are you planning on playing along? How many have you read thus far?