NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST * NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW * New York magazine’s #1 Book of the Year * Best Book of 2013 by: The Wall Street Journal; Vogue; O, The Oprah Magazine; Los Angeles Times; The San Francisco Chronicle; The New Yorker; Time; Flavorwire; Salon; Slate; The Daily Beast
“Superb…Scintillatingly alive…A pure explosion of now.”—The New Yorker
Reno, so-called because of the place of her birth, comes to New York intent on turning her fascination with motorcycles and speed into art. Her arrival coincides with an explosion of activity—artists colonize a deserted and industrial SoHo, stage actions in the East Village, blur the line between life and art. Reno is submitted to a sentimental education of sorts—by dreamers, poseurs, and raconteurs in New York and by radicals in Italy, where she goes with her lover to meet his estranged and formidable family. Ardent, vulnerable, and bold, Reno is a fiercely memorable observer, superbly realized by Rachel Kushner.
Commissario Guido Brunetti, out of a sense of guilt and at the urging of his compassionate wife, investigates the suspicious death of a disabled man, Davide Cavanella, in Leon's intriguing 22nd mystery featuring the crafty Venetian police inspector (after 2012's Beastly Things). Davide's mother is unwilling to discuss his death. Worse, there's no official evidence of Davide's existence: he apparently was never born and never went to school, saw a doctor, or received a passport. The colorful locals are uncooperative. Brunetti's understanding of the Venetian bureaucracy, which operates smoothly on bribery and familial connections, allows his subordinates to enlist the help of various aunts and cousins, as is neatly shown in a subplot involving the mayor and his son. Appreciative of feminine charms, the deeply uxorious Brunetti amply displays the keen intelligence and wry humor that has endeared this series to so many.
Interesting book, but for me difficult and scattered. Parts extremely well written. Others very difficult to follow. I have very mixed feelings about this book.
Beautifully written, funny, challenging, a reminder of what art can do, what the novel can do. A novel of ideas and characters, loaded with compulsive talkers, not plot-driven or even necessarily a page-turner; but for people who treasure the play of ideas, sharp characterization, and quotable sentences, this is as dense and satisfying as cheesecake. Loved loved loved this book.