The 50 book challenge

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42. The Grotesque, by Patrick McGrath.
McGrath’s first novel has been compared to Henry James, Edgar Allen Poe, and Evelyn Waugh, but to me it smacks unmistakably — and irresistibly — of Roald Dahl.

43. Possession: A Novel, by A.S. Byatt.
Slow, inexorable, and impressive. Byatt persuasively builds a literary history for the poets who are two of her main characters, and lambasts the academic world by describing the race to uncover the mystery in newly discovered texts.

44. The Evil B.B. Chow and Other Stories, by Steve Almond.
With each story, I feared Almond would slip into blatant mockery, but there is something tender here; he embraces the touching human frailty in each character.

45. Dark Water, by Suzuki Koji.
Is the structure and mission of Japanese fiction substantially different from most English-language fiction, or is Suzuki Koji a truly bad writer? Rather than showing us the development of plot and character, he tells us. And having told us, he tells us again in the next sentence. A paragraph later, he may remind us. It’s excruciating and boring, not an easy combination.

A blurb on the inner cover says “Suzuki is often billed as the Stephen King of his country, but that’s not really accurate.” Nor is it fair… to Stephen King, who at least writes a ripping good yarn.

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