Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Book Review: The Frangipani Hotel by Violet Kupersmith

From Goodreads:
 From the story about a beautiful young woman who shows up thirsty in the bathtub of the Frangipani Hotel in Saigon many years after her first sighting there to a young woman in Houston who befriends an old Vietnamese man she discovers naked behind a dumpster to a truck driver asked to drive a young man with an unnamed ailment home to die, to the story of two American sisters sent to Vietnam to visit their elderly grandmother who is not what she appears to be, these stories blend the old world with the new while providing a new angle of insight into the after-effects of the war.
Writing
I read that Kupersmith wrote these as an undergraduate, but you'd honestly never know.  I was really impressed with the quality of the writing and the creepy voice that is so perfectly captured in these stories. She has an incredible knack for describing her setting in a way that makes you feel like you're there, but without being effusive or flowery.  I loved how she weaves the culture of pre and post-war Vietnam into each story.  They're just beautiful and a pleasure to read.

Entertainment Value
I definitely enjoyed the experience of reading these.  They're short enough that it makes for a great book to carry around and read in short bursts while you're waiting in line or in a waiting room.  And they're perfectly eerie.  I loved the creepy aspect - it reminded me a lot of Yoko Ogawa's Revenge, which is another Asian-set short story collection I enjoyed this year.

Overall
I think this is a great short story collection for fans of the gothic atmostphere, ghost stories, or the Asian setting. I also think it's a good starting point for those who aren't typical short story readers.  It's one that I'll be giving a permanent spot on my shelf at home.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy to review.

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