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The Collected Stories
John McGahern
George Eliot
Omensetter's Luck
William H. Gass
Swann's Way
Marcel Proust, Lydia Davis
A Naked Singularity (Paper)
Sergio De La Pava
The Master and Margarita
Mikhail Bulgakov, Richard Pevear, Larissa Volokhonsky
Otherwise Known as the Human Condition: Selected Essays and Reviews
Geoff Dyer
Infinite Jest
David Foster Wallace
Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self
Claire Tomalin
Maps and Legends
Michael Chabon
419 - Will Ferguson I learned a lot of things about the Nigerian email scams that have plagued and plugged our email boxes. I once actually even finished reading an entire entreaty, shaking my head in disbelief that a) someone could actually write such a thing and think that someone would fall for it, and b) that some people actually do fall for it. But I never knew anything about that world, and this book sure opened my eyes to that world of conniving thievery.
By far the most interesting parts of the book are those set in Nigeria -- it was fascinating to read about the devastating effects on society of the oil industry, and of the webs of intrigue involved in the email scamming industry, and even of the scam-the-scammers roles. Just as the NIgerian story lines about Winston and Nnamdi would get perking along nicely, the story would switch disappointingly back to the Canadian lines. There were multiple, too many, frayed threads that were woven clumsily together. The Nigerian sideplot with Amina -- what was that for? It was boring and didn't fit and seemed irrelevant and contrived. And what was up with the longing eyes of the detective, staring at the apt building of Laura? The characters were poorly developed and unconvincing.
There was far too much journalistic digression about the mechanics and explanations of the 419 scams; a little would be good, but this was too much. It felt lecturing and preachy.
No, there were just too many confused storylines which synergistically weakened the whole thing.
Some sharp editing could have pared this down in half and resulted in a taut twisty thriller. Makes me wonder again: why don't editors' names ever appear in books?