by Jacob M. Appel – I received a review copy of this book as a First Reads giveaway winner. And I am so glad I did!
This book is the first I’ve ever read with this format: alternating chapters telling the story of one day in the lives of the two main characters (Larry and Starshine), with the twist that Larry’s chapters relay what is actually happening in his day, but Starshine’s chapters are not. They are, in fact, chapters from a book Larry has written about Starshine, a fact that is easy to forget as you read them, as they are so realistic and unromantic (a treatment you wouldn’t expect, given that Larry is head-over-heels in love with Starshine) in their depiction of her inner and outer lives.
The book has touches of magical realism, as some of the events in the “fiction” chapters about Starshine actually cross over into Larry’s daily life, lending a touch of whimsy and fantasy.
The writing is rich and masterful, without being overly literary. Appel is a wonderful wordsmith, no doubt.
The setting is New York City, with a level of affection for and skepticism of that place that those who’ve lived there will find lends additional levels to the story. Even without having had that experience, I have the impression that the city is part of the novel, to the point that this story really couldn’t have taken place anywhere else.
I recommend this book without reservation (and have, in fact, passed it onto my college-aged student for his enjoyment). And I thank Mr. Appel and goodreads.com for letting me review it. (finished 2/15/14)