The highly anticipated second novel from a writer Emily St. John Mandel calls “sharp, witty, and immensely entertaining”
Is a new life possible? Because Shira Greene’s life hasn’t quite turned out at planned. Shira is a permanent temp with a few short stories published in minor literary magazines and a PhD on Dante’s Vita Nuova that she abandoned halfway.
Her life has some happy certainties, though: she lives with her friend Ahmad, and her daughter, Andi, on the Upper West Side. They’re an unconventional family, but a real one, with Friday night dinner rituals, private jokes, and the shared joys and strains of any other family.
So when she gets the call from Romei, the winner of last year’s Nobel Prize and the irascible idol of grad students everywhere, and he tells her he wants her to translate his new book, Shira is happy . . . but stunned. Suddenly, Shira sees a new beckoning: academic glory, a career as a literary translator, and even love (with a part-time rabbi and owner of the neighborhood indie bookstore). That is, until Romei starts sending her pages of the manuscript and she realizes that something odd is going on: his book may in fact be untranslatable.
A deft, funny, and big-hearted novel about second chances, Good on Paper is a grand novel of family, friendship, and possibility.
Good on Paperby Rachel Cantor
From the synopsis of this book, I was fairly certain I would be in good company, but I was disappointed by this book. It left me feeling like I was missing something. I have come to the conclusion that the author's writing style didn't quite agree with me; I simply felt that this book wasn't all the way finished, kind of like the protagonist of this book, Shira.
Shira is a mother, a writer, and a woman who seems strongly opinionated and able to stand up for herself. It seemed like Shira had never really finished anything. She has a somewhat "temporary" life. All of it could crumble and fall apart in an instant. All of this is to say, the rest of the book becomes more and more unbelievable; the storyline seemed so dry to me that I was left feeling parched and in need of a refreshing drink.
This book is not a lost cause. I am sure there are readers who will love it to bits. It just wasn't my cup of tea. If you are someone who likes to take chances on books, or really thinks they can relate to the characters in this book, you may find yourself loving Good on Paper and wondering if I am crazy.
Profanity/Language: 2 religious exclamations; 6 mild obscenities; 4 derogatory names; 7 scatological words; 2 anatomical terms; 1 offensive hand gesture; 5 F-Word derivatives.
Violence/Gore: Adult parents mentioned to have been killed with no description; a character witnessed a friend being killed by a car; a character has a dream about intruders shooting at them; a minor-aged character falls out of a tree and breaks their arm; dishes are broken in anger; kittens are mentioned to be killed for no reason.
Sex/Nudity: Adults French kiss; sexual experimentation is referred to; a character is referred to as a slut; sex is referred to; two adult characters are mentioned to make love unclothed; adults kiss each other on the cheek; an affair is referred to; a woman's breasts are talked about in a derogatory way; a character is accused of "shagging" their boss; a woman and man who are unmarried are mentioned to sleep together nude, sex is implied with no detail; a woman and man allude to sexual acts.
Mature Subject Matter:
Sex/gender identity issues, divorce, kidnapping, AIDS.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Women smoke; a character mentioned to take up smoking; wine is drunk by adults; rum and daiquiris served.
Reviewed By Lydia