Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review: mini-reviews of Gutenberg's Apprentice, The Glamour, and My Bookstore

Gutenberg's Apprentice is a fine historical novel following the life of Peter Schoeffer as he helps the man called Gutenberg print the book he would become most famous for, The Gutenberg Bible.  The story is compelling and the writing sharp and competent.  The choice of Peter as the main character is a smart one considering Gutenberg is one of Europe's renowned historical figures.  It's also an interesting choice because the novel claims that while Gutenberg created the ideas and techniques of the printing press, it was actually the young apprentice who physically produced the famous book itself. This is a pretty good novel for fans of books and historical fiction.

Rating: 8/10.

The Glamour is a novel about invisible people.  One of the main characters is a respected cameraman for news organizations who is the victim of a car bombing.  When he recovers he finds out he has amnesia and that he was involved in a torrid romance with a woman who was also involved in a complicated, often coercive relationship with another man, a woman who claims she and her previous boyfriend can become invisible.

Priest's gimmick in this book is one of perception: of being seen or unseen, noticed or not noticed.  Whether such invisibility is figurative, with all it's attending societal metaphors, or literal is the open question since Priest always plays around with unreliable narrators.  In this one, he also plays with the inherent unreliability of memory and how the mind can play tricks on you.  And as always with Priest, there is the complexity of personalities and human relationships.  The relationship bit was the hardest part for me because I've always had a difficult time understanding why people would let themselves be entangled in coercive, even abusive, relationships.

Rating: 8/10.

My Bookstore is a non-fiction collection of essays by writers about their favorite independent bookstores.  This is a very subjective book relying on your connection to the writers exhortations, because I suppose you can only say so much about each bookstore's uniqueness.  It will either work for you or it won't.  You really don't even need to read the whole thing, or at least, not all at once. 

Rating: 7/10.

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