I'm envious that there are statues like this made of boys, but none of girls. Statues of girls are always doing something feminine or unfun, like lounging half-naked by a spring, gently dipping elegant fingertips in the water, or standing stone faced for Justice or Liberty or some other impossible human ideal. Why can't girls with muscular legs in leggings stand on a hilltop and release a bird?
I've been doing more running than reading lately. I won't sugarcoat it: marathon training is tiring and I've had trouble staying awake to read much of anything. That said, I tore through The Falconer. The book is named after one of Central Park's bronze sculptures (seen in photo above), installed in 1875 near West 72nd St. Though the sculpture has changed over the years (there has been significant vandalism and the original bronze falcon was sawed off and stolen in 1957), parts of the original sculpture still exist in the same location. Czapnik's main character, a middle-class, Italian-Jewish baller named Lucy Adler, loves the sculpture. Set in Manhattan in 1993, the book follows Lucy as she (1) grapples with the complexities of her female identity as an elite athlete and (2) experiences her first stomach-wrenching/heart-racing/hands-shaking crush (on a boy who is entirely unworthy of her attention). Even in post-run hunger/ exhaustion, I didn't want to leave Lucy's side.
The Falconer is yet another bildungsroman of sorts set in New York City in the nineties, but you haven't heard this story before. Czapnik's debut has everything: pointy elbows to the face during pick-up games on public courts, navel-gazing artsy types who paint with Pepto-Bismol to make a political statement, confusing attraction to a (very hot)(very asshole-y) boy who is also your best friend, and late nights in diners with french fries that taste like freezer burn. Both a love letter and a break up with New York City, The Falconer is a must-read for anyone who has ever realized that you might love home more when you're not actually living there.
You've probably heard of Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of the fallen Silicon Valley startup "Theranos." If you're familiar with the story of her demise, you should skip the rest of this review and just read Carreyrou's book, Bad Blood. It's immensely entertaining. I couldn't tear myself away, except to go to work and even then I was just thinking about when I could start reading again. If you haven't heard of Elizabeth Holmes, here's a quick primer: she dropped out of Stanford at age 19 to start a health tech company called "Theranos." Fueled by money and a desire to revolutionize healthcare diagnostics, Elizabeth aimed to create a blood testing system capable of completing 200+ tests using blood from one, tiny finger prick. In 2015, Holmes graced the cover of Forbes magazine and was named the youngest female, self-made billionaire (at this point, her estimated net worth was $4.5 billion). Until the company's demise in 2016-17, the Theranos board included some HUGE names, such as James Mattis, William Foege (former director of CDC), and George Kovacevich (former CEO of Wells Fargo). Ultimately, of course, the Theranos company was a massive scam. Just last spring, Elizabeth Holmes was indicted on federal wire fraud charges. She awaits trial, and reportedly believes that she will be able to start another company once this blows over (LOL). As a human, Elizabeth Holmes is endlessly entertaining (in an evil villain sort of way) and Carreyrou does a great job capturing her incredible vanity.
Gray's debut, The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls, has generated significant (mostly positive) buzz among readers in the last few months. It was formally published two weeks ago and marketed as, "American Marriage meets The Mothers" (for those unaware, I have deep admiration both Tayari Jones and Brit Bennett). So...I ran out to Magers and Quinn to spend $23.00 on this (I know, I'm weak).
This is a complex, family drama chronicling various fractured relationships within a black family living in small town Michigan. The Butler siblings (Althea, Viola, Lillian, and Joe) congregate at the family's old house as the eldest sister, Althea, and her husband, Proctor, are charged with defrauding their community (Gray doesn't really flesh out the motives behind their crimes, which bothers me throughout the book). When Althea and Proctor are sentenced to spend years in prison, their "troubled" (traumatized) teenage twins, Kim and Vi, are left to live with their aunts, Viola and Lillian. These middle-aged women are dealing with their own smattering of unresolved issues related to disordered eating/OCD/PTSD and are less than fully equipped to raise their struggling nieces.
Gray's debut features a marriage interrupted by a prison sentence (as in Jones' American Marriage) and muses on the nature/ purpose of parenthood (as in Bennett's The Mothers). I can't say that I liked it as much as either of those books. The plot feels scattered and the characters feel somewhat superficially sketched. There are aspects of the book that should have been fleshed out (Viola's disordered eating stuff/ Lillian's OCD/ Joe's abusive tendencies/ Kim's self destructive personality). Instead, I was left guessing as to characters' motives, choices, and feelings. I didn't feel a pull to keep reading this...That said, this is a solid debut from a talented African American voice in the writing community. I will certainly buy her next books.