Book report: Everything I Never told You, Celeste Ng

Full length novel by Asian American Celeste Ng. Really taken by it, surprised I enjoyed it as much as I did – if you don’t know me, I’m a total book snob & have very specific tastes so if I like something, I mean it – up to the last section which I’m not sure about.
I liked being surprised by the poetic but not too poetic phrasing, the observations were unusually and beautifully described and dropped in at the right frequency, and the story was one I had not read or encountered in writing or other media before.

Endings are difficult, to state the obvious,  and I am not sure how I would have ended the same story.

Question: How to end narratives without it feeling like you’re wrapping up? I often wonder about this when I’m watching a play. With a book, with a running time, the audience know the thing is ending. How do we keep it burning til the end? How do we make the ending seem the best thing about the thing?

Are there any unusual and surprising stories about romantic infidelities out there that I will encounter (or write)?

NB – Brautigan did endings well.

For sure one of the many pluses of the book for me was that it looked at race but did not tell the same old story of e.g. travelling from the motherland, epic intergenerational blah, talking about identity and belonging clumsily, stereotypical asian (yellow) characters. None of these things are evil in themselves – just extra care is needed if you are going down a well travelled route. It also didn’t overdo any descriptions – I have a preference for non-descripty, non-florid, writing, unless it’s used, sparingly, to prove a point. It was emotionally engaging without being sentimental.

Perhaps it covered too many issues and narratives but it didn’t bother me heaps and I kept reading quickly. The book I’m reading now is disturbing me, even as I’m at the very start of it. How long does one keep reading for?

I’d recommend this and would read more by this writer, especially if she writes anything set now or in the future.

Thumbs up.

Book 2 of 2016. This is a year of reading more women writers and writers of colour. I’ll make brief notes on what I’ve read and note some questions and thoughts which each piece has provoke in me.

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