‘Fresh Complaint’ is a collection of 10 short stories by Jeffrey Eugenides. The first and last stories in the collection, ‘Complainers’ and ‘Fresh Complaint’, are new and have never been published before while the rest have appeared in the New Yorker and other magazines over the past three decades or so.
Eugenides’ three novels to date have all been completely different from the dreamy tone of ‘The Virgin Suicides’ to a Greek family saga in 20th century Detroit in ‘Middlesex’ to a love triangle between three recent graduates of a liberal arts college in ‘The Marriage Plot’. In contrast, money, debt and nostalgia appear to be loosely recurring themes in ‘Fresh Complaint’ across a similarly diverse set of scenarios which often focus on characters in some sort of personal crisis. In ‘Early Money’ a musician attempts to hide from the debt collectors tracking him down after he borrowed $27,000 to spend on a clavichord while the title story sees an Indian-American teenage girl plan her escape from the prospect of an arranged marriage which has serious consequences for a visiting British professor she encounters. Continue reading
Generally, I avoid picking up books which I don’t think I will enjoy. However, that doesn’t mean I always have super high expectations for everything I read. Here is my list of books I initially thought I would struggle with but actually liked a lot.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
I wasn’t sure if I would like a book as ‘philosophical’ as this one but I did. It’s still a pretty weird book and might be viewed as pretentious, but as I said in my review, it’s a very readable sort of pretentiousness. Continue reading
‘The Virgin Suicides’ by Jeffrey Eugenides tells the story of the five adolescent Lisbon sisters who all commit suicide. The youngest sister, thirteen year old Cecilia kills herself first and her death impacts the whole community, especially her other four sisters: fourteen year old Lux, fifteen year old Bonnie, sixteen year old Mary and seventeen year old Therese. The local neighbourhood develops an obsessive fascination with the mysterious Lisbon sisters with tragic consequences for all involved. Continue reading
Even though I have read some very mixed reviews for ‘The Marriage Plot’ by Jeffrey Eugenides, I have still been really looking forward to reading it for months. I thought it would be appropriate to read it now given that I had my graduation ceremony recently and this is the event where the novel starts. Set in 1982, the story follows Brown University student Madeline Hanna, an English major writing a thesis on ‘the marriage plot’ of 19th century novels and the love triangle between herself, Mitchell Grammaticus and Leonard Bankhead before and after graduation. (Unlike Madeline, my graduation day simply involved a lot of standing around in overheated rooms, posing for photographs I didn’t want taken and trying not to trip over my robes. But whatever.) Continue reading