Ginzburg’s “lexicon” is a valuable addition to an already burnished body of work in translation.

A FAMILY LEXICON

An autobiographical novel from one of Italy’s leading postwar writers.

During her life, Ginzburg (The Little Virtues, 1989, etc.), who died in 1991, wrote essays, novels, and short stories; worked for Einaudi, the publisher behind Primo Levi and Italo Calvino, among others; was an anti-fascist and communist activist; and, in 1983, served in Parliament. But these other accomplishments shouldn’t obscure the first: Ginzburg was a masterful writer, a witty, elegant prose stylist, and a fiercely intelligent thinker. This 1963 novel, newly translated by novelist McPhee, is a genre-defying work. It reads like a memoir, but it doesn’t adhere to the conventions of either fiction or nonfiction. In it, Ginzburg describes her family’s experiences before, during, and after World War II; she uses their real names as well as the real names of well-known figures like Cesare Pavese and Adriano Olivetti, with whom her family was intimately acquainted. But Ginzburg herself doesn’t appear until more than halfway through the book. Until that point, she describes her siblings, their friends, their mother, and their volatile father. As a framework for all this, Ginzburg returns again and again to inventory the family’s “lexicon”—the words they used as a kind of shorthand, to call forth shared memories, or to indicate private meanings. Ginzburg’s father, for example, referred to modern paintings (like the paintings of Modigliani), of which he generally disapproved, as “dribbledrabs” or “doodledums” and to those he found stupid as “nitwits,” their actions “nitwitteries.” Ginzburg writes, “If my siblings and I were to find ourselves in a dark cave or among millions of people, just one of those phrases or words would immediately allow us to recognize each other.” It’s a poignant thought that grows ever more poignant as Ginzburg goes on to describe the limits to expression under fascist leadership.

Ginzburg’s “lexicon” is a valuable addition to an already burnished body of work in translation.

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59017-838-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: New York Review Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

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MAYBE SOMEDAY

Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson. 

Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty. 

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5316-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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