Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Self Storage got such a lovely review from Booklist:
The Book of Dead Birds (2003), Brandeis’ debut, won Barbara Kingsolver’s Bellwether Prize. In her second brisk, covertly trenchant novel, Brandeis manages to weave Walt Whitman, 9/11, and secondhand goods into a provocative story about the nature of one’s self and the intrinsically human need to find meaning in life. Flannery cherishes an old edition of Leaves of Grass, her only bequest from her long-deceased mother. With Whitman as her spiritual guide, she lives hand-to-mouth with her soap-opera-addicted graduate-student husband, high-strung young son, and escape-artist toddler daughter in a Riverside, California, enclave for international scholars. To make ends meet, Flan buys and resells the auctioned-off, memory-laden contents of abandoned self-storage units. As though life isn’t precarious enough, Flan is drawn into a high-stakes drama involving her burka-wearing Afghan neighbor, the target of prejudice and hate crimes. Executing a marvelous narrative sleight of hand, Brandeis uses slyly insouciant humor and irresistible characters to delve into the true significance of neighborliness, advocate for doing the right thing, and celebrate a Whitmanesque embrace of life. ––Donna Seaman
I am very grateful.


Rachel said...


I spent earlier today at Barnes & reading reviews of Self Storage. I really liked the parallels between Flan's life and your own, and would love to see how the Afghan friend thrown in would change things.

I've wishlisted the book, and will pre-order shortly.

P.S. My writing is starting to return on track after months of being lost.


gayle said...

Hi Rachel!

I'm glad to hear your writing is back on track!

I've been meaning to write about those reviews over at B&N--they are much more lackluster than the Booklist one (the Kirkus review called the book "appealing but routine", I believe), and while of course every reviewer is entitled to their opinion, I am not happy with how those reviews give way too much of the plot away (so if anyone hasn't read them yet, be aware that there are spoilers). I'm trying not to obsess about it, though!

There are indeed quite a few parallels between my life and Flan's, but Flan is definitely not me. I'll be curious to hear your thoughts about it after you've read it...