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The Belief in a Just World: A Fundamental Delusion
Melvin Lerner

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Call It Sleep - Henry Roth, Hana Wirth-Nesher, Alfred Kazin

I have finally finished this book, but it isn't just the books fault - at least some of the responsibility lies with our new puppy who, especially in November, did not leave me with enough energy read. Anyway, I'm finally done and I'm glad I read it.

I must say that at first I struggled to care. Roth does an excellent job of creating one little boy's world in early 1900s NYC but I found his parents unlikable and, as someone who had a rather nice childhood, I had trouble caring about his miserable but not truly horrible childhood. (I say 'not truly horrible' only in relation to the earliest parts of the book.)

But the older David gets, the easier it is to care about him. And the final section of the book comes alive with Roth's excellent depiction of the various New York dialects.

It is that final section where it actually feels like something may happen - as something indeed does - and there is a palpable sense of tension when David's actions get him into trouble.

I worried that the climax - otherwise extremely well-rendered even if it feels outside of the scope of the novel - would be a little too cute, but the brief and affecting denouement solves whatever problem I would have had.

Not one of the great novels of the twentieth century, as so many have claimed, but still a good book and worth your time.