LitPicks Book Reviews—January 2009

Theme—The Gatsby Effect
What does it mean to be an American? In this month's novels, three characters, two immigrants and one American, each attempt to re-invent themselves in order to realize their versions of the American dream.
Labels: A Lighter Touch


Amy Bloom, 2008
256 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
January 2009

It may be the sumptuous cover that makes this book hard to resist, but the inside is delectable, too.  Away is the story of Lillian Leyb, a young Russian widow and immigrant, who takes us on a whirlwind cross-country journey. In the process, Lillian discovers America and her place in its vast landscape.

It's the 1920's, and Lillian arrives in New York City from Russia, where a violent tragedy has left her bereft of family and home.


Joseph O'Neill, 2008
272 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
January 2009

Many tout this as the top book of 2008—and it's easy to see why. Netherland is a stunning read, a 21st-century send-up of The Great Gatsbythe Gatsby figure, in this case, a charming, enigmatic immigrant from Trinidad, Chuck Ramkissoon.

The Nick Caraway narrator for the book is Hans van den Broek, a Dutch banker living in Manhattan, whose wife, in the aftermath of 9/11, leaves him for their home in Britain.
Labels: Great Works


The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925
143 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
January 2009

Confession time. I don't really like The Great Gatsby. But I think I'm alone in the universe on this—and it's for that reason that I'm recommending it as this month's Great Work.

Critics have long considered The Great Gatsby one of the quintessential American novels because it is bound up in the uniquely American myth of self-identity.

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