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Literary Sara

What I've been reading on the trolley. 

Currently reading

Salt Fish Girl: A Novel
Larissa Lai
A Place of Greater Safety
Hilary Mantel
Make Art Make Money: Lessons from Jim Henson on Fueling Your Creative Career
Elizabeth Hyde Stevens
Moby Dick: or, the White Whale
Herman Melville
The Monsters of Templeton - Lauren Groff

Half of this book tells the story of Wilhelmina Upton, scion of a prominent upstate New York family which includes her hometown's founder and his son, a prominent novelist. The book opens when Willie returns to Templeton feeling disgraced, having fled her PhD research in the aftermath of a doomed affair. I could relate to some of her misfortunes, which--in addition to the escalating wackness of her circumstances and the incongruous touches of a house ghost and a town monster--kept me interested enough to finish this book. Besides, the other characters put an occasional check on Willie's more insufferable tendencies (such as her repeated moping that the whole world is going downhill).


But in order to get to the end, I had to speed through the other half of the book, composed of chapters from a dozen different character perspectives (and a couple in plural voice), all very badly executed. Like being subjected to a town history tour given by a third-rate impressionist. Seriously, there are cameos in the voices of a moustache-twirling French cad and a simpering spinster and a few "me no talk good" early American people of color and these are all completely terrible.


Three stars for Willie's story, barely two for the interspersed "historical" voices. You might like this book more if you're native to upstate New York or partial to James Fenimoore Cooper, whose real and imagined stories are the book's source material.