Blumenfeld is a proven journalist, but she's new at memoir, and it shows. She seems uncomfortable writing about her personal life, and this is a weakness of the book. But the book works, and it's an important read for three reasons. First, she's a victim of terrorism trying to heal and today, a much larger group of people can relate. Second, the Middle East quandary is currently exploding in new proportions. And third, Blumenfeld is trying to connect two worlds: the personal world of pain and suffering, and the ideological world of terrorism and political struggle.
In pursuing her own desire for revenge, she manages to wiggle her way into the heart of a difficult cultural issue: How do you respond when someone attacks you? She starts small, with the primal pain of being hurt by someone else. But the circles around this direct hit spread outward. Through research and self-exploration, Blumenfeld uncovers a bigger picture, and this insight helps her heal.
Anne S. Carle
From Rags to Riches
In his second novel Scott Lasser reassures the world, as if it needed to be reassured, that money is the root of all evil. Certainly this sentiment does not seem like one to write home about, much less an entire novel, but "All I Could Get" ($24, Knopf) is surprisingly insightful and highly enjoyable. Drawing from the author's own experiences on Wall Street, Lasser's protagonist, Barry Schwartz, becomes consumed by the consumer culture of the upper class. The novel opens with Barry and his young family living a poor but pure life in Colorado. Barry becomes disconcerted when faced with more money problems than he can handle, so he decides to go back to school and make his fortune on Wall Street. Ideally, he hopes to make enough money to allow him and his family to live the simple life in Colorado. Unfortunately, these plans go tragically south. And unfortunately for the author, this part of his novel becomes overly predictable. Barry's morality rapidly unravels as his bank account increases and his feet reach the highest rungs of the corporate ladder. However, just because Barry's Icarus-like fall is predictable doesn't mean the reader doesn't feel for him. The most important part of a novelist's job is to get the reader to care about the characters. While there aren't many twists in this novel, in the end, "All I Could Get" succeeds because Lasser is very good at his job.
Francis W. Decker
The Richmond Public Library has kicked off its annual summer reading program for preschool and school age children. The program runs until August 15. This year's theme is "Books and Pets: Our Friends for Life." Call 646-4768.
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