(CCLaP publishes mini-reviews of both books and movies on a regular basis, none lasting more than a few hundred words. A full list of CCLaP's book-based mini-reviews can be found on its main book page, and movies on the main movie page.)
We Only Know So Much
By Elizabeth Crane
Former Chicagoan Elizabeth Crane is just a little too good a personal friend for me to claim I could do an "objective" review of her newest book, last year's We Only Know So Much (BONUS: Listen to my 2007 podcast interview with Crane); but I wanted to get a mention of it up here anyway because I enjoyed it so much, another solid winner in what's always a delightful career. A contemporary human-interest dramedy firmly in the Franzen dysfunctional-family vein, the story is peopled with more eccentric weirdos than a Wes Anderson film -- the wife having an affair with a guy who then dies, the husband obsessed with getting Alzheimer's, the vapid daughter, the nerdy son, the senile grandfather and the pissy 98-year-old great-grandmother -- and Crane builds an interesting, event-filled plot for all of them to go through, the kind of entertaining and charming novel that sleeper low-budget Hollywood hits get adapted from. Given that Crane is mostly known at this point for her short stories, I love seeing her expand here into full novel territory, and this quiet yet sophisticated tale is sure to strike a chord with fans of Jennifer Egan and the like.
Out of 10: N/A