Vinegar Girl, The Last Days of New Paris, and Look: Poems | Book Review

Vinegar Girl
Written by Anne Tyler
Published by Hogarth

This re-telling of The Taming of The Shrew is set in a modern time, but includes the same funny and idiotic characters Shakespeare originally created, with the same obvious twists and turns. It follows Kate Battista, whose father is in the middle of a scientific breakthrough. However, he needs the help of his assistant, Pyotr, who is about to be deported. Her father comes up with a plan to keep him here, can we guess what it is? To have him marry his daughter of course! A green card marriage is his solution.  Hilarity ensues. 

Now, the play this is based on can be interpreted in many ways, particularly whether or not the woman is actually tamed by her husband, so I will not delve into that. It requires a lot of studying, re-reading, and thinking that I am unwilling to do with this comedic novel at this time, another time perhaps. Are there still some scenes that might make you cringe a little? Yes, but they are not overpowering, and might be put there in order for us to feel those things, much like we probably did with the original text.

The great thing is, we are given Pyotr: “In my country they have proverb: ‘Beware against the sweet person, for sugar has no nutrition.’” He is perfect for Kate, and it is up to the story to have both of them discover their feelings. He carries the bluntness of good news reporters that we lack in America, and this matches Kate’s personality quite well.

It is a fun work, it has heart, fun characters, and a beautiful cover. It is actually quite good to compare to Shakespeare’s original work to see how society has changed since then.  

Monday 1:13 pm
“HI Kate! We went to get marriage license! ”
“Who’s we?”
“Your Father and I.”
“Well I hope you’ll be very happy together.”

The Last Days of New Paris 
Written by China Miéville
Published by Del Rey

“Can living artwork die? Can it live before it dies?”

The only way I can describe what is happening is by saying: This is Miéville tying an alternative France fighting the Nazis with the Surrealist movement in one short novella. I hope that made sense, because until one reads it, much won’t be understood clearly at all. In fact, once I read the description, I still had no idea what was going to happen. It was a good thing, since for once, I enjoyed going into a story without knowing much about it beforehand.

In here, France is still occupied by the Nazis in 1950, except, that alongside that, living nightmares and dreams roam freely in the city. And this is the perfect opportunity for this author to explore all the odd descriptions he usually writes on his other works. Stories of dark cults, mixed with oddly shaped creatures, and characters with mysterious secrets.  

This might just be one of the best places to start when it comes to this author’s “weird fiction” writing. 

I received a copy of this book via Goodreads. Thank you!

Look: Poems
Written by Solmaz Sharif
Published by Graywolf Press

Poetry is very subjective, and as such, I often find myself unable to like the poetry that is newly released (unless it is slam poetry, which is usually amazing), this is an exception.

This collection is first and foremost, a recanting of the effects of warfare on individuals. This has been done many, many times before, but for some reason I connected with this collection. I am not sure if it has something to do with my knowledge of certain conflicts increasing, or a new desire to communicate with people’s similar struggles to mine, but it made me think, it made me look at her words and remember events. That is all I could ask of a poetry collection with such a main theme. 

There is also the whole “language is sterilized in order to control its effects on the population”, that appears in the collection. Sadly, I am not qualified to talk about it, no matter how interesting I found her use of this. The most I can give you is this:
Let it matter what we call a thing,
Let me look at you.

This collection deserves a re-read, and hopefully then I will be able to give a more in-detail review.

I received a copy of this book via Goodreads. Thank you! (Also Graywolf Press for sending it)


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