6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Funny and smart,
This review is from: Seating Arrangements (Hardcover)
A lot of authors go to such huge efforts to make their characters likable that it's great to come across a book where everybody is pretty vile. The interesting thing is, the more loathsome they become the more you want to read about them. Some of the dialogue is laugh-out-loud funny and some of the observations are very sharp. I particularly enjoyed the section where Winn is looking back on how the wealthy managed to avoid going to Vietnam. Most of his fellow students seemed even more repellent than him!
I do have a couple of reservations. There is a little too much looking back - Winn's obsession with his father gets tedious at times. The second reservation is more fundamental. Normally, if I see that an author studied with the Iowa Writers' Group, I view it as a plus point. Some of my favourite writers - like Curtis Sittenfeld - studied there. Unfortunately, Maggie Shipstead takes her 'creative writing' too far. Sometimes there are so many metaphors and similes that you find yourself saying, 'oh, just tell tell the bloody story.'
Despite these reservations, I would strongly recommend this book.