The Painting of Porcupine City - Ben Monopoli I'm not sure how I really feel about this book. I know only that it's magnificent, but I am bitterly conflicted about how it made me feel. It tells the story of Mateo and Fletcher, respectively: an enigmatic graffiti artist and a self-centered writer. It's an... atypical story. The focus is not so much their relationship but how they navigate the minefields of life and love and obsession. It's beautifully written; lyrical and wise and sometimes a little obtuse. Set in Boston and Sao Paulo, the settings are lovingly rendered and even though I've never been to either place, I felt like I got an inside glimpse, somehow. The characters are flawed, but ultimately redeemable. The plot meandered a little, then took a few sharp twists. The ending came as a bit of a surprise. In fact, it ended up having unexpected elements of magic realism that made me think of Alice Hoffman, but in a good way. I also really loved the take on counter-culture and graffiti. So, why am I conflicted? Well, in Monopoli style (as in the The Cranberry Hush), nothing ever turns out how you want or expect it to. There's powerful forward-movement in the characters' lives, but I felt a bit adrift and heartsick at the end. That might not make sense if you have't read the book, but trust me when I say it is well worth reading.