Legado en los huesos (The Legacy of the Bones) by Dolores Redondo – Baztan Trilogy #2

As I visited the public library to return Ferrante #4 last December, I stumbled upon Dolores Redondo’s Legado en los huesos (The Legacy of the Bones) in the New Books section. As I eyed the familiar cover – all the Spanish editions share a similar cover, with greenery and a woman – I realised that it had been a year since I had read El guardián invisible (The Invisible Guardian), the first installment in the series. I realised then, it would just be perfect to put an end to 2016 the same way I had started it: By returning to Baztán.

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Legado en los huesos takes place as Amaia Salazar gives birth and is forced to return to Elizondo, where a local church has been vandalised. If El guardián invisible was constructed over the greenery and the scenery typical of Navarra and the Northern part of Spain, then Legado en los huesos highlights the unique political environment of the area. Amaia, despite being in charge of the team now, sees herself investigating the desecration of a local church because a high-ranking prelate from the Opus Dei specifically requests her. The right-wing organisation is extremely powerful in Navarra, where they are in charge of the most prestigious Medicine college of the country. Their influence is however greater than that, and the novel is built on Amaia’s struggles to reconcile her job and her new role as a mother, and the Catholic doctrine with the pagan beliefs of Elizondo.

Amaia’s recent maternity and mother-child relationships take again a central role in the narrative as she gives birth to a baby boy, instead of the girl they were expecting, and she struggles to become the mother she has pictured herself to be. Redondo makes an effort to include the difficult task of caring for a newborn, even though Amaia always has James by her side. Post-natal depression, as well as remorse, sleep-deprivation, and the importance of finding time with her husband make up for most of the main character’s personal arch. I found Amaia’s views on motherhood a bit old-fashioned, especially when she tries to put her son’s breastfeeding above everything,  and she refuses to let it interfere with her work. However, all her worries disperse throughout the book when she accepts help from James and Engrasi to take care of the baby, and she recovers some personal space and time. Some of that personal space will be clouded by Judge Markina’s interest in Amaia, posting questions about flirting, infidelity, love, and marriage, thus giving adding even more depth to the main character.

It is a bit difficult to describe the crime that sets the plot into motion because everything is directly linked to the events on the previous book. So, if you have not read El guardián invisible, Legado en los huesos is not a good place to start. As Amaia investigates the desecration of a church in Elizondo, Johana Marquez’s father commits suicide in jail, leaving a strange message for Amaia that sends the whole team into a thrilling investigation during the cold, wet and dark winter of Northern Spain. Personally, I was thrilled to see our short and wet days inscribed in popular literature, as we do not get much sun and warmth in the North of Spain, where we share more similarities with England than with Barcelona. The return to her hometown will also help Amaia deal with her traumatic relationship with her mother, as well as with her older sisters, Flora and Ros. Tía Engrasi is always present in the background, taking the role of mother, confident, and now grandmother to Amaia’s kid, as well as facilitator of the family’s return to the town. Without giving anything away, Amaia will discover a dark family secret that will change her forever. All these stories are entwined with the Basque mythology that made El guardián invisible such a distinctive book.

Legado en los huesos is a an even better read than El guardián invisible, though longer and darker. Despite my passion for crime fiction, I found myself agitated and unable to read this book during bedtime due to Redondo’s masterful story-telling skills. The crimes Amaia investigates also take a darker turn, and although I do not want to give anything away, please beware the book contains graphic descriptions of violence against children and teenagers (as did the previous installment), as well as desecration of Catholic places. If you can bear that, then you are in for one of the best books written in Spain in recent years.

2016 In Review: Crime, Fiction, and Women

2016 has been an interesting year. As I write this we have just heard of Carrie Fisher’s death. Bowie. Prince. Cohen. Brexit. Trump. Aleppo. The ‘alt-right’. George Michael. Spain’s turn to the right, once more. Let’s take a deep breath. 2016 has not been kind to us.

Reading is, for many of us bookworms, a necessity, but also escapism. When I joined the blogging community 6 years ago (!!!!) I discovered that reading for escapism was considered a bad habit. You should read to become a better person, to learn. But, what if escaping our lives makes us better people? What if turning the news off and enjoying a good story will make us happy and more sympathetic human beings? I truly believe in the power of books to change the language we use to describe the world, hence change the world. But it does not have to be a task, or a struggle. Reading for pleasure has always been how I understood reading (except during my degree when I learned the horrible phrases ‘compulsory reading’ and ‘reading with a deadline’), and 2016 has been a year for pleasure because to put it simply, reality sucked a bit too much. It has also been a year of wonderful women, present in my life as authors and as mentors, friends, and colleagues. It has been a #ReadWomen kind of year.

As I got deeper and deeper into my PhD thesis I learned that there is more to reading for pleasure than crime fiction. After reading and writing about Scarpetta and Brennan for hours and hours, I found myself less likely to pick up a crime novel during my free time, and instead binge-watching crime television shows (an addict is an addict, right?). This is why I finally approached the Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series (My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child). The four novels, which are an international success, tell the story of Elena ‘Lenú’ and Lina ‘Lila’ from their childhood in the corrupt and violent Naples of 1950’s until our current times. At first I did not understand why the series were so successful, but one page in Ferrante’s writing will make you read the four novels in a row. More on Ferrante soon.

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Spanish Covers for Elena Ferrante’s works – All borrowed from the public library.

Something similar happened with reading in English. I chose to read Ferrante in Spanish because I thought that the translation from the Italian original would be closer than the English one. So, I decided to begin and end the year reading another series. Dolores Redondo’s Baztán Trilogy (The Invisible Guardian, The Legacy of the Bones, and the upcoming third volume) is taking the English-speaking world by storm. Written by a woman author and with a strong and complex female main character, the series focus on Amaia Salazar’s investigation of serial murders in her native town of Elizondo. The novels offer a different take on Spanish culture by erasing the stereotypical paella and flamenco image and instead making the Northern culture known to international readers. A delight for many natives like myself. Again, more on Redondo to come soon.

But, what I can say? My heart will always belong to forensic doctors. If I was a die-hard fan of the Scarpetta series (I know the quality of the novels decreases with every new installment, just let me enjoy them while I can!), I am now a die-hard fan of Kathy Reich‘s Temperance Brennan series as well. I was already a regular Bones (2005 – 2017) viewer, but the novels offer a different take on Tempe, yet she feels familiar as well. I read the first novel in the series, Dèja Dead (1997) for my thesis, and it takes a huge amount of self-control every day not to purchase Brennan #2. As I analysed it for my thesis, I am not sure I will be reviewing it here, just in case the boundary between my work and this blog becomes more blurred.

2016 was also a year of discoveries. Even though Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist did not appeal to me at all, I was immediately interested in her second novel The Muse. Cleverly mixing art, history and personal narratives, half of the novel takes place in a small Andalusian town months before the Spanish Civil War (1936 – 1939). The writing was so inspiring and clever that it will remind readers their love for books, language, and art in general. And did I mention that Burton writes about the hardships of being a woman artist? You can check my review here. Going back to Spain, I also discovered my love for Almudena Grandes’ The Ages of Lulu (Las edades de Lulú), which felt like the original 50 Shades, with Spain playing the main female role after decades of fascist dictatorship. Taking into account the current state of affairs, it may be wise to remember that sometimes, rebellion for rebellion’s sake is good (and a bit of erotica never killed anyone). Discover it for yourself here.

I also did some re-readings this year, mainly for my thesis. The one that surprised me the most was Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, which I read for the third time for an upcoming book chapter I wrote, and it amazed me one more time in ways I did not expect. Moriarty’s power relies on her ability to portray everyday life in a critical yet humorous way, while inscribing the traditional female experience of housekeeping and child-rearing in popular literature. I really, really hope to gain an open access license for my book chapter to share it. Meanwhile, here‘s my review (from 2014!), and the trailer for the upcoming HBO adaptation produced and starring my beloved Reese Witherspoon:

And I finally became an adult in 2016, which means that I finally learned to enjoy non-fiction. Even though I had read some non-fiction in previous years, it was not my go-to genre. This year all I could think about was learning about the life experience of other women, mainly writers and feminists. The boyfriend gifted me Gloria Steinem’s My Life on the Road, which proved to be an enormous source of inspiration to keep travelling and fighting for women’s rights (review here). But I was also reminded of my love for reading, writing and connecting to other women writers’ work by Kate Bolick’s Spinster (review here). Another key read for me was Sarah Knight’s The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck, as I felt I was giving too many f*cks in my life, and it was time for a change. I highly recommend this book to any woman out there who has ever felt guilty when putting herself before others. More here. I hope to read more non-fiction in 2017: I think that my next read will be The Mitfords by Charlotte Mosley, but I have also heard a lot of good things about books revisiting the three Brontë sisters. So, I’ll keep my eyes and ears open for any good recommendations that you may have.

As for contemporary crime fiction, I had the pleasure of exploring diverse takes on the idea of ‘crime’. The first big one was American author Megan Abbott, whose last novel You Will Know Me about a teenager Olympic gymnast has become my recommendation for anyone who asks for more women in crime reads. You thinking about reading it? Click here. I also read After You Die, Eva Dolan‘s Zigic and Ferreira #3, which is contemporary British crime fiction focused on diversity issues, starting with the DS and DI in charge. More here. My taste for diverse British crime fiction does not end there, and Tastes Like Fear, Sarah Hilary‘s new installment in the Marnie Rome series was also a big part of the year. I may nudge her a bit every year regarding the next book in the series, this is how good they are.Finally, for my job at LARB, I was assigned the review of Megan Miranda‘s All the Missing Girls, a crime novel told in reverse, which only shows how crime novels are character studies on human behaviour, rather than mere whodunits. Since the content is all theirs, here‘s a link to my review.

I could not finish this post without mentioning the two more difficult reads of 2016, and the cosiest one. Let’s start with the difficult: I was invited to deliver a paper on the 2012 New Delhi Gang Rape, and the prospect of analysing how rape, rape culture and rape victims were portrayed in the media was something I could not refuse. As I usually do whenever I face anything in life I am not really familiar with, I chose to read fiction. Crime fiction? It felt like it. It felt raw. And cruel. And there were days when I could not utter a kind word to anyone in my house because either I let my feelings build up as rage, or I would burst into tears. Responsible for this almost-breakdown were Louise O’Neill’s Asking for It, and Courtney Summer’s All the Rage. I have not reviewed them yet. I do not know if I ever will. Revisiting Emma’s and Romy’s stories – though fictional – feels a bit too much for the festive season. And to finish this post with some optimism, I loved, loved, loved Sam Baker’s re-telling of The Tenant of Windfell Hall: The Woman Who Ran, which is the perfect mix of contemporary crime fiction and English classic literature. Just check it.

But, as it happens with everything in life, this could not have been possible without the people in my life. From the publishers and editors who kindly send their review copies across the Channel to Spain, I would like to thank you for making this blog possible. Especial thanks are deserved by all the authors who have kindly agreed to be interviewed for Books & Reviews this year: Paula Hawkins, Dolores Redondo (who kindly confided in me for her first blog interview in English!), Megan Abbott, and Helen MacKinven.

And, finally, to every single reader and to the subscribers and followers, more than 2,000 of you who have chosen to support this blog: THANK YOU. Books & Reviews is possible thanks to each of you. I hope you have a wonderful 2017 filled with books and love.

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Happy Holidays!

Dear all,

Things have been awfully quiet over here for the last month. Life got in the way of reading and writing, ironically in the form of reading and writing itself for my PhD. But fear not! New reviews will be up before 2016 comes to an end, and I will write my traditional Best Books of The Year List.

Today I would like to wish you all happy holidays and a wonderful bank holiday in the UK. I hope you get to spend these days with your beloved ones, and with lots of books.

Love,

Elena xxxx

A Very Criminal Christmas! A Crime Fiction Gift Guide

Almost a month has gone by since my last posts and Christmas is almost here! As a bookworm, I can’t imagine Christmas without books. Remember that Christmas scene at the beginning of Little Women? It makes me happy and tearing and inspires me to ask and expect more and be thankful for all the books that I have available either as review copies, gifted by a beloved one, or more importantly, for free at the public library. So, in the spirit of Christmas I thought, why not gift crime fiction to your beloved ones – or even yourself! Here are my picks. They have all been published recently so you should have no problem locating any of them online or at your local bookshop:

For the Purist…

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The Annotated Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The complete works featuring history’s most beloved and well-known detective come edited by Leslie S. Klinger in three volumes. The notes contain historical references, and any kind of information related to the story (why Conan Doyle chose a type of character, if that character is based on someone he knew on real life, etc). The bad news? A gift only meant for the most beloved person in your life, as the whole collection is on the expensive side.

For the Fashion Lover…

Luckiest Girl Alive

Luckiest Girl Alive features New York’s fashion editorial world with a rages-to-riches story, and a very criminal secret. Jessica Knoll’s novel has become a bestseller since its release last year and Reese Witherspoon is set to produce the movie adaptation. Get ahead next year’s fashion and be the one who gifts it to the fashion lover in your life before everyone starts talking about the movie.

For the Young Adult Reader…

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Louise O’Neill’s Only Ever Yours takes place in a future where women are deprived of their identities and they are reduces to their bodies and their beauty. Clearly inspired by Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, this YA novel will make readers think about the price of being a woman in contemporary society.

For the Forensic Science Freak

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Postmortem is the first installment in the Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell. Originally published in 1990, it is the first forensic thriller to become a bestseller and it is usually considered the founding stone of the crime fiction subgenre that will inspire CSI a decade later.

For the British Crime Fiction Fan

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Sarah Ward’s debut novel In Bitter Chill became one of the most praised crime fiction releases of 2015. Mixing the thrill of police procedural with the coziness of Kate Morton’s mysteries, this novel is the perfect choice to curl up in bed with a cuppa and a big blanket.

For the Short Story Reader

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Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives is a collection of short stories originally published in the mid-20th century and edited by Sarah Weinman. All the stories belong to what is now known as ‘Domestic Noir’, and they turn domestic tasks and spaces into dark places. A must-read.

For the Hype Reader

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Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty was originally published in 2014, and it is set to be released as an HBO series starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Shailene Woodley as three upper-middleclass Australian housewives and mothers whose little lies are not as little as they think.

For the Series Reader

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Harry Potter’s own J.K Rowling has published three crime novels under the pseudonym ‘Robert Galbraith’. They feature ex-army Cormoran Strike and sidekick Robin Ellacott as London’s most interesting pair of private investigator. The series have a perfect pace and will appeal to mass audiences. The perfect choice for that relative who you think enjoys reading. Note: Better read in order

For the Dark Series Reader

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As a fan of detective series myself, I know there is a big difference between comfort reading and those series that hit close to home and make you feel uneasy. Sarah Hilary’s Marnie Rome series are dark, with a complex, young and inspiring female character. Hilary also features an openly gay sidekick, and she introduces social issues and criticism. As with Galbraith’s, these novels are better read in chronological order.

For the Diversity Reader

Tell No Tales by Eva Dolan (Zigic and Ferreira #2) - Review

Crime fiction is usually white and middle-class in its setting and characters, but the reality is far from this. Eva Dolan’s Zigic and Ferrera series is set in England it features two main characters with very close links to immigration working for a Hate Crime Unit. She also deals with disability and transgender issues. Although best read in order, I still haven’t read book #1 and had no problem starting on #2, Tell No Tales.

Happy gifting! x

A Little Personal Update (Winter is Here!)

Winter is here! Which also means Christmas! And Christmas lights! And Christmas sweets! And time off to watch stupid and corny Christmas films!

As you can see, my love for Christmas knows no boundaries. And that is what always helps me get through the fall semester. Now that I am the very proud owner of a feminist laptop, I have gone back to reading and writing 24/7. I have a few deadlines to meet, and I am also participating on the organisation of a conference on India studies. So, all is well as along as I am busy! This new routine has taken a toll on my reading, but I will be finishing Ferrante’s Neapolitan series this week, and I hope to get some crime fiction reading soon. I have only heard wonderful thing about The Bird Tribunal, The Ice Beneath Her, and Eileen, so I hope to devote some evenings to reading those novels.

Review: The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn at CrimeFiction Lover

Review: The Ice Beneath Her by Camilla Grebe at Crime at the Book

Review: Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh at The Writes of Woman

These past two weeks I have been reading books and watching documentaries and interviews on consent and rape culture. I will review the books here soon because two of them are novels, and they should be compulsory reading for teenagers and adults everywhere. We need to be educated about the underlying structure of rape culture. We need to understand why people blame the victim and stop doing it. We need to see that golden boys will not always be golden boys, and they should be punished. Hard to say and fight for when a rapist and golden boy has been elected president of the US.

Meanwhile, I have found my other true calling: Binge-watching Netflix! Netflix only arrived to Spain this year, and for the safety of my PhD I decided to avoid getting any kind of account or access. But by the end of October I couldn’t resist myself and I requested the one-month free trial period. I’m hooked. I am serious. I am rewatching Gilmore Girls in order to prepare myself for the 25th November revival. I am SO Rory, even though I aim at Lorelai so hard. Don’t we all want to be Lorelai? Isn’t she an amazing feminist role model? And isn’t Rory’s love for books contagious? I love my Gilmore Girls.

So, this is what has been going on behind the screen for the last month. I will keep working hard until my Christmas break so that I can take time off then to watch a lot of TV, get some reading done, and spend my time with my beloved ones. I know the Puppy will be thrilled to know that I will available to play go-and-fetch for hours!

How is November treating you all? And if you are a student, any tricks to survive mid-semester crisis?

The Ice Lands by Steinar Bragi

I was contacted by MacMillan last month to get to know their latest translated author, Steinar Bragi whose novel The Icelands came out on the 25th October. Even though I do not read much Scandi crime fiction, I enjoy it a lot when I finally step out of my British/American comfort zone. So, after taking a look at the book I decided it was dark enough to make it to my Halloween reading list. But I did not know what I had in my hands…

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The IcelandsHálendið in the original Icelandic, published in 2011 and translated into English by Lorenz Garcia – tells the story of two couples, Hfran and Vigdís, and Egill and Anna, who embark on a trip to Iceland’s volcanic desert. When a storm takes them out of the road and they hit a farm, they are forced to spend the night with the two old farmers who live there. From the moment they arrive they realise that the farm is completely isolated, and the old couple have no visible way of making a living. So, how do they survive? And are they really alone?

When I first started reading Bragi’s novel I expected the characteristic raw narrative of the high quality Scandi crime fiction I have read in the past years. And I found exactly that. The coldness that oozes from the page, the dirt, the darkness. It was all there. What I did not know was that The Ice Lands is a horror story, a brutal tale of survival with bizarre glimpses into Iceland’s folklore that would terrify me. I read the novel in three seatings during Halloween’s weekend, and although I was scared, I could not put it down. From the very first page it is easy to realise there is something off. But is it all in Egill’s mind after too many joints? Is it part of Hfran’s ego? Or is it the Icelandic setting, a character on its own, clouding their vision with black sandstorms?

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Sandstorm in Iceland – via Reykjavik Cars (who also have tips on how not get caught in one)

The four main characters take turns as narrators and each of them make the story move forward from a different angle. Even though the reader knows nothing about the characters in the very beginning, they share their backgrounds as they try to link what has happened to them in the past with current events. Among those currents events, the 2010’s economic crisis becomes a pivotal moment for the four of them. While Hfran and Egill enjoed a luxurious lifestyle, they are struggling to keep their image among Iceland’s important businessmen. On the other hand, Anna and Vigdís are self-made women who have been working hard for years as a journalist and as a therapist respectively. Despite the different economic backgrounds of the couples, the women’s tales seem completely separated from the men’s, giving them more substance than just the role of girlfriends.

As for the horror, it is clear since the moment the jeep is crashed that there is something off. The Icelandic weather makes it impossible to survive outdoors, so there is no option for them but to take shelter at the couple’s home, and the couple has no alternative to this. Or do they? As these four city Millennials enter the old couple’s homes we can see their social prejudices by their appropriation of their hosts’ space, which very much feels like a colonisation. The old couple seems to agree to this arrangement until we realise that the narrators intrusion into their lives is taken a step beyond. How? That is yours to discover.

I sincerely enjoyed The Ice Lands, probably the first horror book that I have read in my whole life. The characteristic blending of literary genre and social criticism of Scandi literature made it easier to keep reading even when I was scared, although I will admit I rushed through the last 30 pages because it was too much. The writing is raw, like the desert itself, and it would be easier to be fooled into feling the dirt of the characters in one’s face, with the sand giving everything a grayish tint. As a last recommendation, this book contains vivid descriptions of physical violence (animals included), which could  upset some people and animal lovers like myself. In any case, I highly recommend The Ice Lands as we are not usually offered an opportunity into Iceland’s’ horror literature, and this seems like the best place to start.

The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie

The Portable Veblen came highly recommended on Twitter by Anna James and Elizabeth (then Preston) Morris and compared to the quirky Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple, which I did not really enjoy when I first read it, but have come to appreciate as time goes by. So, when I learnt I would be spending a week in the UK, I made a list of books that I needed to purchase and The Portable Veblen was at the top. Luckily for me I found it for £2 with some minor damage to the cover.

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The first chapters were so sweet I had to picture the book with gummy bears!

Veblen is a young woman about to marry Paul, the first man that she has ever established a connection with. This is the story of how they got engaged, how they planned the wedding, how to make their very different families connect, and the medical industry. You have read it correctly. Paul works for a medical company researching a tool that the US army could use in cases of brain hemorrhage, Veblen herself has some mental health issues, and her mother is a hypocondriac. As you can imagine this mix makes up for a quirky novel. And I forgot to tell you that Veblen has a relationship with a squirrel that enters her house, Paul wants to catch, and she finally sets free – although the squirrel follows her across California.

With a plot like that, The Portable Veblen is a promising, quirky book. But I am afraid it does not deliver the same way Bernadette did. I tried to establish a connection with Veblen but found it almost impossible, not because she is unlikable, on the contrary, because she is too bland. Years spent with her hypochondriac and attention-seeker mother have erased Veblen, so that she does not make up for an interesting main character. She is not sure she is in love with Paul, and his behaviour set off some alarms whilst reading, but at the end of the day this novel is a love story between two people with special families. And although we all have special families and issues that we wish would never see the light of day, it is not so for Paul and Veblen. Their families are unnerving, but eventually they do almost nothing about it.

I really wanted to enjoy the book, and I have to admit the first chapters were very sweet, but as a whole I was a bit disappointed. However, as I was thrilled by the beginning of Veblen’s story I gave it 3 stars at Goodreads and I truly believe this book has a target audience and I was the problem, rather than the novel itself. I am writing this review a month after finishing reading just because I found the novel on my desk and I had the feeling I had some reviews left to write. But the book had completely escaped my mind.

Now, I am curious to hear what you thought of the book if you read it, or if by reading what the blurb says you would be interested:

The Portable Veblen is a dazzlingly original novel that’s as big-hearted as it is laugh-out-loud funny. Set in and around Palo Alto, amid the culture clash of new money and old (antiestablishment) values, and with the specter of our current wars looming across its pages, The Portable Veblen is an unforgettable look at the way we live now. A young couple on the brink of marriage—the charming Veblen and her fiancé Paul, a brilliant neurologist—find their engagement in danger of collapse. Along the way they weather everything from each other’s dysfunctional families, to the attentions of a seductive pharmaceutical heiress, to an intimate tête-à-tête with a very charismatic squirrel.

Veblen (named after the iconoclastic economist Thorstein Veblen, who coined the term “conspicuous consumption”) is one of the most refreshing heroines in recent fiction. Not quite liberated from the burdens of her hypochondriac, narcissistic mother and her institutionalized father, Veblen is an amateur translator and “freelance self”; in other words, she’s adrift. Meanwhile, Paul—the product of good hippies who were bad parents—finds his ambition soaring. His medical research has led to the development of a device to help minimize battlefield brain trauma—an invention that gets him swept up in a high-stakes deal with the Department of Defense, a Bizarro World that McKenzie satirizes with granular specificity.

As Paul is swept up by the promise of fame and fortune, Veblen heroically keeps the peace between all the damaged parties involved in their upcoming wedding, until she finds herself falling for someone—or something—else. Throughout, Elizabeth McKenzie asks: Where do our families end and we begin? How do we stay true to our ideals? And what is that squirrel really thinking? Replete with deadpan photos and sly appendices, The Portable Veblen is at once an honest inquiry into what we look for in love and an electrifying reading experience. (less)