The Age of Miracles (Book Acquired, 6.08.2012)

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The design folks at Random House has been killing it lately with good hardback designs that integrate dust jackets in handsome ways. Check out what’s under the jacket for The Age of Miracles 

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I know I should write about what’s in the book, but, jeez, I hate dust jackets so much, so when the designers do something cool or innovative, it’s worth remarking on.

So, what’s in Karen Thompson Walker’s (much buzzed about) debut? Here’s the pub’s copy:

On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life—the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.

Walker’s book has been compared to The Lovely Bones by the publishers (Kakutani compares it favorably as well in her gushy review) as well as Margaret Atwood. I dunno. First 20 pages were not for me. It’s likely the book’s not for me.

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3 thoughts on “The Age of Miracles (Book Acquired, 6.08.2012)”

  1. So it’s just like every other suburban novel, with more more opportunity for night-time imagery? How many times have we read “On a seemingly ordinary ________ in a ________ suburb” and “the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love,” in the last fifteen years? Enough to make one sick, enough that the emergent genre of ‘Literary Fiction’ can just as easily be called Welcome to the Suburbs.

    On the other hand, I’m sure all the strange, cosmic and meteorological events really invigorate and freshen these tired tropes and first world sufferings in the same way you might defibrillate a corpse, before spraying it with a very cloying perfume.

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    1. I have no problem with first-world writers depicting first-world suffering. I mean, people live in suburbs, people who read. I don’t think novelists should have to surmount some kind of class rubric.
      At the same time, yes, I do find these novels tiresome, and their proliferation with the reading public is dull.
      Kakutani’s review is especially troubling if you read it closely—she’s perceptive enough to sense that the book is hack work, but the author is a former ed at Simon & Schuster; it’s like Chad Harbach’s Fielding again, a middlebrow effort propped up by insiders.

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