I’ll read anything if it rhymes. If only case law, the NYTimes and my mother’s treatise- length emails rhymed! I’ve heard many a friend decrying the fact that they can’t read anything anymore. Lately, I have to like a book by around the fifth page. So in this vein, below are my brief rhyming reviews of current fiction.
I give each book a rating (one eye roll to three, one being mildly hard to digest and three, a grinding torture) or for ones I like, eyes wide open (1 is ok, 2 good and 3 is like total fireworks ). I realize this might be a frontal assault to great literature and a feet over head surrender to TikTok culture. If you’ve read any of these books cover to cover and think I’m a crazed heretic, feel free to let me know. I might read the book until page 10! Oh and I apologize in advance for the bad, let’s call it purposely bad rhyming you may see below.
1) Moms by Yeong-shin Ma 1 eye roll
You may ask, what dolt can’t finish a comic book;
close your eyes, open them and now take a look.
It’s me with a shelf of reviled graphic novels–font too tiny, words too plain–
and on and on in that same vein.
This has a fun, campy cover of two Korean women in a rage;
I’m intrigued as a moody Korean, of menopausal age.
I like the neat font as it’s easy on my eyes
and Korean moms behaving badly is a fun, fresh surprise.
We learn slowly about the men they date
and how their love sours to hate.
By page 5, I grew bored and distracted;
the positive review, now retracted.
Where was the humor and spunk I expected?
Replaced by a humdrum earnestness, I rejected.
2) Anna K–A Love Story by Jenny Lee 1 eyes wide open
This reviewer read the original, footnotes and all.
This version set in New York private schools has some gall.
We meet Lolly and her cheating boyfriend at once;
between the two of them, who’s the dunce?
The teen-speak and the low stakes put a thorn in my side.
After too much luxury brand name dropping, I’m not along for the ride.
But it’s got some clever lines and a fast pace that’s fun;
I just wish the titular character could be on page one.
3) Kim Ji Young Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo 2 eyes wide open
The blurb on the front flap…
suggests it could be crap.*
But I gave it a chance for a fellow Korean;
when I say her style is simple, I’m not being Me-an.
The author’s third person voice is intentionally plain-
a patient telling her therapist the A to Zs of her pain.
I forge cautiously past page one,
‘cuz deranged, fraught millennials are fun.
Kim impersonates people to her family’s chagrin;
and the plot only takes until page two to begin.
I’d give it three stars, as it picks up by page two,
but if this turns all sci-fi on me, what would I do?
4) Writers and Lovers by Lily King three eyes wide open
Casey Peabody has a litany or reasons to be pissed.
She’s been jilted by her man and her dead mom is sorely missed.
She’s likeable when she tells the reader of her plight:
she can’t think about money, sex or her mom if she wants to write.
Showing us the narrator’s funny thoughts is what Ms. King does best;
when Casey is anxious she “feels the bees in her chest.”
By page five, seeing Casey crying with the geese,
the reader would not like this book to ever cease.
5) Everywhere You Don’t Belong by Gabriel Bump 2 eyes wide open
It’s clear this book is my type;
the funny story of a Black man well worth the hype.
The front flap describes it as “alternatively witty and heartbreaking,” great!
The humor, see page one, does not come late.
We meet the group of swashbuckling men
and the church-going, fearsome, Grandma hen.
Just when I thought the language was Denis Johnson-y but less divine
I’d be silenced by a simple line.**
6) The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett three eyes wide open
This book grabbed me from page one.
Identical twins and racist hicks– fun!
Each twin left the boons to live in two different worlds:
one Black and one white;
there is no use denying, the writing is TIGHT!
One twin returns to town with a Black daughter in tow;
the community, aflame, wants them to go.
If I can’t sit through this read,
a bottle of Vyvanse is what I need.
*Someone says the novel is one that “mesmerizingly diagnoses the endemic misogyny and institutional oppression that is relevant to us all.”
** “And my life went on like that: people coming and going, valuable things left in a hurry.”