Skip to main content

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

This book is off putting when you initially see it - once because of the sheer size of it.  It is close to 750 pages in the hardback  (720 to be exact) and the cover is of a young man with an expression that is seemingly a combination of pleasure and pain. This is a book about friendship but not amongst women - it seems that everyone writes a book about friendship between the female gender doesn't it? - but about the friendship between a group of four friends that meet in college and whose relationships span the period of about 30 years in the novel. There's the actor Willem, the artist JB, the architect Malcolm and the attorney, Jude (who we learn is addicted to cutting himself). The center of the story is Jude. The pages that follow shows how each of these men rise and fall and lose their centers and bearings, sometimes painfully.

TRIGGER WARNINGS are a must for this book. Jude's story, which is the center of this novel, is so painful and contains so many triggers that the Civil War looks like child's play. The fact that Yanagihara named this character after the patron saint of lost causes is some poetic justice. She handles it masterfully and yet, the scars that Jude has as an adult - which range from self hatred to the yearning for love and yet the abject mistrust of anyone and everyone. He struggles and struggles and struggles to try to recover. I liked how she really tried to force me to try to enter into the world of someone whose mind was not like my own. And yet, I love also how she is able to capture the warmth and acceptance of true friendship and the different forms of love that exist. I lived this book while reading it and dreamt of it when I wasn't. 


Popular posts from this blog

In Memoriam

One of my most favorite bookish podcasts, Books on the Nightstand, has ended its tremendously successful run.  It has been around seemingly forever and was one of my staples in book recommendations. It will be sorely missed and leaves a space in my podcast listening zone that I'm striving to fill.  While I understand that the podcast em-cees, Michael and Anne, have their own lives that they probably want to continue with (and podcasting takes a lot of time, particularly when you're as popular as they are and, for example, as popular as the Manic Mommies are/were), they will be sorely missed.  However you can find them on both Goodreads and on Twitter.

In anticipation of their ultimate decision to end the podcast, I found a number of other really awesome podcasts to fill the void, some of which are bookish and some of which aren't.  For your listening pleasure:

BookRiot - more of a news in the publishing industry podcast but still pretty awesome;All the Books - a weekly po…

Missoula by Jon Krakauer

You may recognize the author's name - Krakauer is perhaps most famous for the book Into the Wild about a young man that goes to Alaska (and which was made into a movie).  I enjoyed that book and when I heard on a podcast that I listen to that Krakuer had written a new book, I decided to get it and read it.  In this book, which is non fiction - he focuses on the University of Montana, the local police department and at the local prosecutor's office and analyzes their job performances through the eyes of five young women who were sexually assaulted. During this same period, the Department of Justice investigated how those same parties handled 80 rape cases and that investigation yielded dismaying results. In one instance, a detective re assured a male suspect during an interrogation that she didn't believe he committed a rape (despite evidence to the contrary) because they got a lot of false accusations. Similarly, the Chief of Police (!!!) sent an article to a victim citin…

City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin

I was hesitant to pick up Justin Cronin's trilogy, which began with The Passage, because I was vampired out.  But it's different. It combines science fiction and westerns and spans about 1500 pages and 1000 years and generations, upon generations of people.  It's dystopian and hopeful all at the same time! The vampires don't sparkle, thankfully, and the story isn't just told in prose - it's told via letters, journals, scientific journals, flashback, the whole nine yards.
As the book opens, we find our beloved characters in a time of peace and relative prosperity.  There have been no viral attacks for twenty years. The main characters are all struggling with something that has broken them and they each struggle. And there was also Zero, the ultimate bad guy, that wants his say and his ultimate revenge. This book is wonderful in the sense that it is Cronin at his absolute best - he is a storyteller on par with perhaps the best of the fantasy writers - of any w…