Reading Roundup for Early June

Here’s what I read during the first half of this month.

The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa. It’s a big ambitious work of fictional history that weaves three narratives: the lives of the assassins of Rafael Trujillo and how they came to their task, the last day in Rafael Trujillo’s life as dictator of the Dominican Republic (DR), and the story of Urania Cabral’s return to DR after a 35 year absence. I knew close to nothing about Trujillo and the DR before I read this novel. Trujillo is one of those many SOBs who happened to be “our” (meaning the United States’) SOB. We trained him, helped him, and then eventually his terrifying leadership was so heinous that the CIA assisted in a coup against him. Recommended for People With Strong Stomachs Who Like History.

City of Glass by Paul Auster, adapted by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli. This graphic novel is an adaption of Auster’s novel. It’s a detective story unlike any detective story I’ve seen. If I say that it’s one of those where the case is not what it seems and calls into question everything you and the detective think you know, it’s doing it a disservice. It is that, but that’s not because there’s some double-cross or engineered plot twist. The detective’s very hold on reality is questioned. Recommended for People Who Like Very Unusual Detective Stories.

Moving Pictures by Kathryn & Stuart Immonen. The Immonens, wife and husband, have crafted a beautiful, gripping, terse story about the efforts to catalog and hide art in Nazi-occupied Paris. It’s subtlety has befuddled more than a few reviewers. Too bad for them. I found this graphic novel to be a graceful grim account of one woman’s struggle to survive the occupation and the forced “choices” she has to make. Recommended for People Who Like Deceptively Simple Stories.

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