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Author of AGAINST A DARKENING SKY, THE EMPTY ROOM, OUR DAILY BREAD, and others. Find out more at www.LaurenBDavis.com. I read as if my sanity depended upon it.. . . oh, wait, it does! Snort.

Netherland: A Novel

Netherland - Joseph O'Neill A significant work about an emotionally bleak post-9/11 that is at once invigorating and reflective. The great tragedy of that day is a shadow that falls over the characters and the events, but it wisely never takes over the novel. This is a reasonably suspenseful, well-paced book,even with some rather long-winded explanations of cricket, which I found myself skimming after a while. (O'Neill, is the author of an acclaimed memoir and a member of the Staten Island Cricket Club, and like a reviewer from the Guardian I couldn't help but wonder occasionally if he shouldn't have written a memoir-essay on New York cricket.) The writing is slightly self-aware at times, and some of the undeniably lovely lyric passages don't feel completely credible to the 1st person narrator. Still, many of the psychological aspects are piercingly sharp and the writing is both honest and subtle, although the main character, Hans, is ultimately less interesting, and more thinly-drawn than the novel's foil, Chuck, a Trinidadian self-made (and highly shady) business man who, we learn early on, has been murdered. Quibbles aside, O'Neill is a great observer of the human condition, and his descriptions of the occupants of the Chelsea Hotel alone are worth the effort.