Sunday, December 15, 2013

THE CIRCLE, Dave Eggers, THE VIEW FROM THE SEVENTH LAYER, Kevin Brockmeier, SOMEONE, Alice McDermott

THE CIRCLE, Dave Eggers
I guess I just don't like Eggers' fiction. And I keep getting set up for disappointment because I love most of his nonfiction. The Circle is a Facebook-Google-like corporation that has swallowed all its competitors, and where "Everything That Happens Must Be Known." It's not that Eggers doesn't have the right idea. I agree with what he's preaching in this novel. But the plot is massively predictable, and the characters and writing wooden. He crafts a good sentence in his nonfiction books, and uses effective fiction to techniques to tell real stories. He could use more of that here.

More excellent Brockmeier (see my October 5th post ), marrying 'realistic' fiction with a surreal strain of science fiction. This time short stories, including a piece of twisted Star Trek fan fiction, "The Lady with the Pet Tribble," that's brilliant and beautifully penned.

SOMEONE, Alice McDermott
The life of an entirely ordinary woman from Depression era Brooklyn. Nothing much happens. She is young, she grows up, has a failed romance, marries and raises a family, grows old... and somehow McDermott makes her story lift off the page with quiet, unshowy, virtuoso writing. On my Best of 2013 list.