I began reading Amy Bloom’s Away based primarily on recommendations: Carrie Frye’s, for example, which also conveniently links to positive reviews. I disagree with them: over 70 pages, Away didn’t capture my attention; I never cared about the main character, and while the writing was strong it was also pedestrian. Carrie says, “The novel was as psychologically acute as I expect from Bloom — as a writer, she is both so comprehending and tender about the human animal — but the prose seemed more charged than anything I’ve read of hers previously.” If Away is charged, I won’t be reading the others. A few sections of Away were funny, but not funny enough to sustain the whole, and next to a vastly more powerful novel like A Simple Plan, Away wilts. It’s being sold at a small loss at Amazon, and I’m on to whatever is next from the shelf, which will, I hope, provide more lasting pleasure. The time I might’ve allotted to it is gone, and part of my (early) New Year’s resolution is to not waste time on unworthy books when there are plenty of better ones.

(If you’re looking for something about the Jewish immigrant experience, try Henry Roth’s Call It Sleep, a superior if stranger novel.)

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