It could be argued that any novelist who puts the word “unbearable” in a book’s title is almost tempting a reader to pass it by. Indeed, a copy of Milan Kundera’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” which I bought for a buck in a used bookstore, sat on my shelf for more than a year before I finally decided to give it a chance.
Author Archives: Quentin Dunne
Screwed up families with screwed up children
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” or so commented Leo Tolstoy in the classic opening of “Anna Karenina.” Regardless of whether this quote is true, it certainly seems apropos when considering the Preaker family, the disturbed clan at the heart of Gillian Flynn’s debut book, “Sharp Objects.
'The Pigman' a timeless novel of human interaction
To describe a young adult novel (or any novel, I suppose) as “sensitive,” “sincere” and “insightful,” might very well risk sounding as if you’re damning it with faint praise, not unlike recommending someone go on a blind date because the date “has a pleasant personality.
A tale of secrets and lies, race and sex
In 1997, Philip Roth published “American Pastoral,” the first in his America trilogy, which examined the evolving socio-cultural-political landscape of the United States in the half-century following World War II. Next came “I Married a Communist” and then “The Human Stain” in 2000, ending the trilogy on an anguished and impassioned high note.
Elaborate 'Secret History' more than just murder
An elite college in a remote area of rural Vermont. A small group of affluent, improbably intellectually gifted Classics students. A charismatic, quite possibly amoral leader of the group. A forceful professor and advisor to the group curious to see just how much he can exert his influence over it.
Not my kind of childhood
Childhood is a time of immense hopes and insecurities, a period of great vulnerability in which the acceptance of both peers and adults takes on an almost seismic importance. Few knew this better than novelist Robert Cormier, who, beginning with his 1975 book “The Chocolate War,” brought a more psychologically nuanced sensibility, as well as a decidedly darker edge, to the young adult genre.
Everyone has their reasons
Given the increasing prevalence of hyphenates in the entertainment field — actor-photographer-author, singer-actor-painter, and so on – in which proven accomplishment in one area allows for vain indulgence in others, it’s both refreshing and heartening to see a genuinely multitalented multitasker emerge.