book reviews

BOOK REVIEWS Courtesy of Beaverdale Books

‘Cry of the Sloth’

By Sam Savage
Pub Date: 9/1/09
$ 14.95
224 pp


The dark side of the writing life is explored in the character of Andrew Whittaker through his correspondence over the course of a four-month period. The literary magazine that he edits is third-rate at best, his wife has divorced him, his mother is dying, he is missing pieces of his childhood and the tenants who occupy his properties would like improved living conditions — the list goes on. Yet he still thinks of himself as above it all, even as we watch his descent.

That’s not to say that Savage doesn’t inject plenty of humor into his first novel after “Firmin.” Whittaker’s accounts of his run-ins with the local literati and his made-up letters (complete with anagram/pseudonyms) to the editor are prize-worthy; Savage’s way with language is refreshing in an old-school sort of way. You might even want to keep a dictionary handy as you read this. CV — Review by Alice Meyer


’Laura Rider’s Masterpiece’

By Jane Hamilton
Grand Central Pub
Pub Date: 4/9/09
214 pp



If you saw Jane Hamilton when she was in town last spring, you heard her talk about her writing classes being filled with students who want to write and students who want to get published. Laura Rider is one of the latter — in fact she doesn’t even like to read, because books are “too wordy.” She’s determined to get published, however, and devises an elaborate scheme involving her husband, a public radio talk show host and bogus e-mail to fashion her plot. In the end, Laura gets a lot more than she bargained for.

In a departure from her previous dark, issue-laden works, Hamilton has created a farce that will have you laughing out loud. Laura’s musings (if Holden Caulfield had had access to Prozac, would there still be a “Catcher in the Rye?”) reveal the mind of quirky yet manipulative woman who goes after what she wants at all costs. It’s a good quick read for a dreary day. CV — Review by Alice Meyer


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