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To Read: The Writers Afterlife by Richard Vetere

18342441Here sounds like an interesting story!

According to Goodreads: “The Writers Afterlife is the story of Tom Chillo, a 44-year-old writer on the verge of fame, who suddenly dies of a stroke and finds himself transported to a place where all writers are sent after they die. After mingling with ‘The Eternals’ — including Shakespeare, Wilde, Keats, and Tolstoy — he discovers that his true peers in this new world are all haunted by the same regret: they never achieved the fame they felt they deserved during their lifetime.

There’s still a chance, though. Every writer has the opportunity to return to earth for exactly one week and convince someone to set the wheels in motion to give their life’s work widespread notoriety. The trick is to come up with the perfect plan the first time. Failure is not an option.  Continue reading “To Read: The Writers Afterlife by Richard Vetere”

To Read: The Book of Unknown Americans

11BOOKHENRIQUEZ1-master180-v2via The New York Times

“We’re the unknown Americans,” says a character in Cristina Henríquez’s second novel, “the ones no one even wants to know, because they’ve been told they’re supposed to be scared of us and because maybe if they did take the time to get to know us, they might realize that we’re not that bad, maybe even that we’re a lot like them.”

That declaration bluntly articulates the theme of “The Book of Unknown Americans,” as does the novel’s choral structure — made up of first-person reminiscences from an array of characters from Latin American countries including Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, Paraguay, Nicaragua and Venezuela, all of whom talk to us directly about their reasons for coming to the United States.

These aspects of Ms. Henríquez’s novel may make it seem like a timely story, given the current debate over immigration and the surge of young illegal immigrants now crossing over the border into the United States. But they also emphasize the novel’s more schematic and tendentious aspects. In fact, “Unknown Americans” is at its most powerful not when it’s giving us a documentarylike look at immigrant life in one Delaware (yes, Delaware) town, but when it’s chronicling the lives of its two central characters: a beautiful Mexican teenager named Maribel Rivera and her admiring friend and neighbor, Mayor Toro. It is Maribel and Mayor’s star-crossed love that lends this novel an emotional urgency, and it’s the story of their families that gives us a visceral sense of the magnetic allure of America, and the gaps so many immigrants find here between expectations and reality. Continue reading “To Read: The Book of Unknown Americans”

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