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American Suite Reviewed By Lois Henderson of Bookpleasures.com
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Lois C. Henderson

Reviewer Lois C. Henderson: Lois is a freelance academic editor and back-of-book indexer, who spends most of her free time compiling word search puzzles for tourism and educative purposes. Her puzzles are available HERE and HERE Her Twitter account (@LoisCHenderson) mainly focusses on the toponymy of British place names. Please feel welcome to contact her with any feedback at LoisCourtenayHenderson@gmail.com.





 
By Lois C. Henderson
Published on July 17, 2011
 

Author: Diana E. Sheets, PhD


Publisher: Jorge Pinto Books Inc

ISBN: 978-1-934978-33-7


Click Here To Purchase American Suite

Author: Diana E. Sheets, PhD


Publisher: Jorge Pinto Books Inc

ISBN: 978-1-934978-33-7

 

American Suite, described by author Dr. Diana E. Sheets as “a contemporary historical novel about life in America today disguised as ‘chick lit’”, is a novel written in the form of journal entries by three women: a mother, and her two daughters, all of whom have distinctive characters that seem continuously to be at conflict with one another. Essentially, the work, which is a spoof of conventional American society, mores and literature, was written in reaction to the emotional neediness of the stereotypical female reader.

For anyone who has not found themselves at home either in rural America or in a writer’s group, the lead character, Arisa Selby, is an absolute treat. In an attempt to come to terms with her experience of 9/11, she flees New York City to try to find herself amidst the “Flatlanders” of the Midwest. Her sense of emotional disjointedness and acerbic NYC wit bring her into head-on conflict with the perfectly mannered “Overly Friendly People” that populate that neck of the woods. As a fictionalized memoir writer, Arisa naturally comes, at least tentatively, to seek refuge in the local writers’ group, the members of whom she satirizes as representing the genres that they depict in their writings. That she supplants her latent aggression and frustration into an ongoing battle waged against miniature garden marauders (a.k.a. squirrels), as well as, ultimately, against a perverted Peeping Tom neighbor, with the help of the Crime Guys is almost inevitable.

Arisa’s sister, Sophie, presents a less “ditzy” face, and has more conventional concerns, such as how to raise her three young sons in an overwhelmingly male household (even the Labrador and two cats are masculine in gender). Sophie’s strength lies in her ability to counter all misfortunes and temptations that come her way, including her physical attraction to a son’s young tutor. Sophie’s domestic setting in the “Connecticut burbs” allows Sheets to question not only what holds the American family together in trying times, but also the nature and essence of multiculturalism, as her three sons each adopt, albeit it at a superficial level, a different religion: Protestantism, Hinduism and Judaism. The latter is strongly influenced by Arisa and Sophie’s mother’s involvement with a Jewish man that seems, overall, to be the most sane and stable of the whole bunch. His suffering from cancer might be seen as a tinge of black humor on Sheets’ side, indicating that the overall situation in America lends itself to terminal illness.

Sheets certainly exposes the vulnerable underbelly of the nation as a whole, which is what she intended to do with the work. As she says, “I wanted to use this unease, this sense of dislocation, as a means of reimaging America in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 when our world was transformed and we lost our innocence, our empowerment, maybe even our entitlement.” An informed and elucidating read, American Suite would make a brilliantly insightful and extremely witty contrast to Woody Allen’s angst-ridden movies if it were to be transformed into a screenplay. Let’s hope that Hollywood is taking note. 


Click Here To Purchase American Suite