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The Two Hotel Francforts by David Leavitt
Jul21

The Two Hotel Francforts by David Leavitt

Dear Caryl, You mentioned when I saw you Friday night that someone had recommended you read The Two Hotel Francforts by David Leavitt. That was such a funny coincidence because I was in the middle of reading it myself! I finished the book this weekend, and I thought I’d share my thoughts with you. I like David Leavitt. I read his last book, The Indian Clerk, and thought it was interesting and pretty good, and I also read The Lost Language of Cranes, which is his most highly-regarded book, although I must confess I don’t remember much of it. He always seemed to me like a writer who deserved more attention. This new novel has been getting a lot of positive attention, and I was looking forward to reading it. The book tells the story of two couples, Pete & Julia and Edward & Iris, who meet in Lisbon in 1940. American expatriates, they have had harrowing escapes from the encroaching Nazis, and have made their way to Lisbon to await passage back to the US on the ship Manhattan. The new acquaintances strike up a friendship, which evolves quickly into flirtation and then, unsurprisingly, into an affair. What is surprising is the partners who embark on the affair: Pete and Edward. It was this unexpected twist that made the novel sound interesting to me in the first place. After their passion is teased and then consumed, the relationship develops into something more predictable and less pleasant, more tedious, a kind of “you don’t love me like you used to” sort of thing. Iris then comes to see Pete for a “talk,” and explains the workings of her extremely unconventional relationship with Edward. Something about the tone, the setting, the story of the seemingly breezy and worldly couple who mask deep troubles, made me feel like the author was trying to do Fitzgerald and/or Hemingway in a way that felt derivative, not inspired or laudatory. It’s one of those books where the narrator (Pete) tells you at the beginning what’s going to happen at the end and, instead of following his story with interest in the process of how the characters got from A to B, I instead found myself skimming pages in a rush to just get it over with already.  Unfortunately, I wanted to like this book much more than I did. In the end, Caryl, I wouldn’t really recommend it for you, but I’ll be happy to recommend some other good summer reading! Start with The Transcriptionist, a debut novel by Amy Rowland. See here for more info: http://lynnrosen.com/a-great-new-book-for-your-summer-reading-list/ Best,...

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Is It Real Or Is It…?
Jul16

Is It Real Or Is It…?

The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro This is a popular book; I’ve seen it around a lot and heard it mentioned in a positive context. The topic interested me. I think what really grabbed me is the cover art. Always meant to read it. Finally did. What I liked about the book: A glimpse into a new (for me) milieu: the Boston art world and the world of art in general. Lots of interesting details about painting techniques. What I didn’t like: Lots of detail about painting technique. I get that to really understand the plot the reader needed a more than superficial understanding of the artist’s technique, but at times it read like a lesson, not a novel. Liked: The main character, blacklisted but extremely talented (and sexy of course) artist Claire Roth. Didn’t like: Claire’s character could have used more emotional depth and complexity. Didn’t like: A narrative style that sometimes seemed confused about whether it was telling the story in past or present tense, and a voice that was often dry, dispassionate and distant. Didn’t like: A story that, near the end, suddenly veered from something more artsy and somewhat literary into a fast-paced police thriller complete with a deceptively friendly FBI guy. Liked: The premise (a stolen Degas; a forged Degas; other things about Degas I won’t give away), the misunderstood, maligned, and yet talented and tenacious protagonist, the inclusion of some Impressionist history, and the back story (real and imagined) of museum creator Isabella Stewart Gardner. This is the point at which I should be assigning a number of stars and thumbs up or down, but I’ll leave it at this and let you decide if this a book you wish to read. Let me...

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Good line!
Jul02

Good line!

I’m reading a YA (young adult) book called The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone. I found out about it when the author was interviewed on NPR. It’s based on the Thorne Rooms, which are a series of miniature rooms created in the 1930s and now housed at the Art Institute of Chicago. The premise is that the kids in the book become miniature and can go in the rooms and have adventures.I bring it up today because I just read a quote I really liked and want to share with you. One of the main characters, a girl named Ruthie, is talking with her father about her friend Jack’s mother, Lydia. Lydia is an artist and Lydia and Jack live in a really cool loft. Lydia is described as being quirky and outgoing. She relates to people easily and in a friendly way, and she’s a great cook. Here’s Ruthie, speaking about her father: “He had often commented that artists like her [Lydia] create their lives rather than letting other people set the rules. Ruthie was beginning to understand what he meant by that: if you want something badly enough, you have to make it happen.” Inspiring...

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A great new book for your summer reading list!
Jul01

A great new book for your summer reading list!

July always feels to me like the real beginning of summer. And of course you know what summer means to me: summer reading! I just read a terrific new novel I want to share with you. In fact, I like it so well I’ve arranged to have it available to you at a special discount, so you can add it to your summer reading list! The Transcriptionist is Amy Rowland’s debut novel. Rowland is a book review editor at The New York Times. Prior to that, she worked for many years as a transcriptionist for Times, typing up interviews and reporters’ stories. The book centers on Lena, who spends her days in a lonely office at a major New York newspaper called The Record, with the words of others flowing into her ears and out of her fingertips. Lena is beginning to have the sense that, by channeling the words and thoughts of others for so long, she is beginning to lose her own. She rarely talks to other people and, when she does, she is prone to quoting dead authors. What sets off the action of the novel is an article in The Record about a suicide in which a blind woman jumps the fence of the lion’s area at the Bronx Zoo, swims the moat, and is devoured by a lion. Lena realizes that, days before this incident, she had an encounter with this very woman on a city bus. As we follow Lena’s search to learn more about this unknown woman, we learn about Lena’s background and we are also given an inside glimpse into the workings of a beleaguered institution: the major city paper. I greatly enjoyed reading this quirky, thoughtful, unusual and well-written book. I highly recommend you give it a try! You can place an order for a copy with a special one-time only Open Book 25% discount: https://squareup.com/market/open-book/transcriptionist-the Happy...

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Summer Reading Books on Sale!

The Open Book Pop Up Bookstore is having a Pop Up sale this week! It’s your chance to grab some great summer reading! See the books on sale below and email me at lynn@lynnrosen.com to place your order. SELECTED HARDCOVER FICTION ON SALE: Title                                                                                                  Retail   Price/Sale Price We Are Water by Wally Lamb                                                $29.99/$20.95 The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert            $28.95/$19.95 Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Phillips                                          $28.00/$19.00 Signed copies! The Good Lord Bird by James McBride                                $27.95/$18.95 Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi                                       $27.95/$18.95 & Sons by David Gilbert                                                              $27.00/$18.00 The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton                                         $27.00/$18.00 We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves By Karen Joy Fowler                                                                     $26.95/$17.95 Orfeo by Richard Powers                                                             $26.95/$17.95 All That Is by James Salter                                                         $26.95/$17.95 Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen                                                      $26.95/$17.95 The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara                    $26.95/$17.95 The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane                                     $26.00/$17.50 The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout                                    $26.00/$17.50 Burial Rites by Hannah Kent                                                      $26.00/$17.50 Still Life With Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen                $26.00/$17.50 This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash                               $25.99/$17.50 Drift by Jon McGoran  ...

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Magazine Reading
Jun27

Magazine Reading

There are two magazines right now in the magazine rack next to my reading chair. One is Travel + Leisure, and the issue’s theme is “50 Dream Trips.” The other is Better Homes and Gardens, with stories like “Perk Up Your Porch with Color,” and “Perfect Recipes and Party Tips.” It amused me when I noticed that these two were accidentally paired, as it seemed to sum up the struggle I’ve been having all my adult life: am I a nester who wants to build a cozy, beautiful, welcoming home, or am I an intrepid see-the-world type? I want to be both, but being both does not seem doable. At the moment, I am a nester. My husband calls me a “homebuddy.” I like my house, I like to stay home, putter and yes, even clean, and I am always inviting people over. I have parties, dinners, book classes, yoga classes—my door is open to interesting events and activities and my house is a place I like to share. Also, I have young children, which necessitates a strong thread of homebuddy-ness. And yet, I long to see the world. Not all of it. I don’t really want to camp in foreign forests or climb mountains. But there are so many places I long to visit (or re-visit), from cities such as Paris, London, Prague, San Francisco to outdoorsy places like Banff, Costa Rica, and Maine. At the moment, I can’t do all that. Maybe someday. At the moment, I can’t even do all I want to do with house: the repairs and renovations we need are financially out of reach right now. And so I keep these beautiful aspirational magazines around and, for now, they fill the...

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