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Showing posts from August, 2016

Books of Note

Universal Harvester by John Darnielle

Not surprisingly, like a lot of John Darnielle’s music, particularly those songs on the album The Sunset Tree (Pale Green Things springs to mind and is very much worth listening to), his writing only slowly reveals itself and its narrative direction. Not in any turgid or tedious fashion, but rather in an unhurried, gentler and more thoughtful way. Universal Harvester rolls gently along its path with only a few disconcerting and probably deliberate hiccups. It starts in Iowa in the 1990s with a young man, still living at home with his father but unable to leave because of the weight of his mother’s death, years before, in a car crash. The trauma tethers Jeremy and his father together like the gravitational pull of a dead star in a comfortable and predictable but numb orbit, but it’s never something that either of them can discuss openly.
Jeremy works at a VHS rental store, so we’re assuredly early-Worldwide Web era. His job is simple, repetitive, and keeps him and his father in entertai…

Stone Of Farewell: Book 2 of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, by Tad Williams

Please go to The Memory, Sorrow and Thorn Trilogy post for a review of this novel.

The Dragonbone Chair: Book 1 of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, by Tad Williams

Please go to The Memory, Sorrow and Thorn Trilogy post for a review of this novel.

Familiar by J. Robert Lennon

Having neatly tucked away Breakfast of Championsonce more, I was drawn as if by the divine hand to an article at Electric Literature* which lead me in turn to Familiar by an author unknown to me. The article may have read thusly: Like Vonnegut, Lennon is able to defy genres; Familiar appeals to a variety of readers, from the sci-fi set to the literary fiction elite. Also like Vonnegut, there’s even a Kilgore-Troutian moment in which the universes of the writer, reader, and protagonist briefly and spectacularly collide.
Of course, it may not have done. Regardless, I was intrigued.
I have written before of the strange feelings inspired by the selection of a novel by an as-yet unread author. Do I go overly dramatic and find meaning in every word, or do I stand back, detached and disapproving? In J. Robert Lennon's case, I was ambivalent as I began, distrusting his words, but I was quickly swept up by the sheer narrative impetus. I remained cool, but the story fairly zips along. 
It's…