If you're a NY fan, you'll likely love this read. If not, don't pick it up expecting Neil to chronologically rehash his life and times. The book rambl...moreIf you're a NY fan, you'll likely love this read. If not, don't pick it up expecting Neil to chronologically rehash his life and times. The book rambles all over the place and its fifty-something chapters feel more like individual blog posts than a comprehensive narrative.
It's a rare look into the mind of one of my favorite artists, and he could write three more books of the same type (which he occasionally threatens to do throughout this book)and I'd devour them all.(less)
Classic Harrison. The title novella is a pretty little magically realistic riff, indicating, to me at least, that he still has plenty left in the tank...moreClassic Harrison. The title novella is a pretty little magically realistic riff, indicating, to me at least, that he still has plenty left in the tank.(less)
No way to discount my pro-Saint's bias, but this is one of the most fun football books I've ever read. You don't get any X's and O's, but you do get a...moreNo way to discount my pro-Saint's bias, but this is one of the most fun football books I've ever read. You don't get any X's and O's, but you do get an anecdotal look at life as an NFL coach that is largely unseen, all at a pace and in a voice that suggests you pulled up a chair next to Sean Payton in a dark bar one afternoon and got an earful of stories over a number of beers.(less)
Brad Watson writes quite solid prose and he delivers again with this collection of short stories. There are some great pieces of writing in this colle...moreBrad Watson writes quite solid prose and he delivers again with this collection of short stories. There are some great pieces of writing in this collection, but it was hard for me to get past the fact that these stories are basically a collection of pieces that have been published in journals and magazines over the last few years. As it is, there's really nothing else there to really hold them together and my overall opinion of these stories, in sum, suffers for that.(less)
Another great entry from Mr. Harrison. In these 3 novellas (including an always enjoyable entry in the Brown Dog series) he is consistent as he ever w...moreAnother great entry from Mr. Harrison. In these 3 novellas (including an always enjoyable entry in the Brown Dog series) he is consistent as he ever was. He doesn't so much tell you a story as guide you through it, dropping crumbs of knowledge along the way and letting you weave the finer threads of the narrative together yourself. A singular talent that I never tire of, I'm glad that I missed his previous book, The English Major, so I don't have to wait too long for something new of his to read.(less)
First off, as I'm the kind of person that thinks of space ships and Klingons when I hear the term 'science fiction,' let me attest to the fact that th...moreFirst off, as I'm the kind of person that thinks of space ships and Klingons when I hear the term 'science fiction,' let me attest to the fact that this is not very 'sciency' fiction and certainly not fantasy. I put it in the same company of 'The Time Traveler's Wife,' which is to say it's more magical realism, really.
Anyways, this book is a great read. While the prose is simple the ideas expressed within are quite complex when viewed through the lenses of the last 150 years of western philosophy.
George Orr is a man whose dreams not only change reality, but also change everyone's memory of reality. Unable to control what he dreams and the reality that he creates, he is quite afraid of this talent and goes to great lengths to keep from dreaming. When the use of narcotics to keep him from doing so gets him in enough trouble that he must submit to government-enforced counseling, his talents become known to a seemingly well-intentioned psychiatrist whose manipulations of George's dreams nevertheless lead to rather extreme consequences, and only George is left knowing how things have changed (or is he?).
It's quite and interesting exploration of the question of 'if you could change the world, would you, and would you even really want to?,' as well as all the ethical and moral quandaries that go with that. I have the suspicion that I'll read 'The Lathe of Heaven' a few more times to really let its themes sink in.(less)
It's always a pleasure to know an author and get a chance to read their work. Victor is a Baton Rouge resident and a member of the 'video golf and bee...moreIt's always a pleasure to know an author and get a chance to read their work. Victor is a Baton Rouge resident and a member of the 'video golf and beer night' gang that I keep company with here in the Red Stick. Read this book and imagine what it's like to spend an evening yelling at a video golf machine and playing the worst Neil Diamond songs you can find to keep competition for said machine at a minimum with Mr. Gischler and you readily see why this is one of the highlights of my week.
It's a shame that mass market paperback 'pulp fiction' books are largely received with a 'oh this is a B movie kind of thing' collective mindset because this book deserves a wider audience and attention. Victor's prose is tight, the action is non-stop and there is some sly political and social satire to be found in his rendering of a post-Apocalyptic East Tennessee.(less)
A fine recommendation from Ryan Parker, I just couldn't put this thing down. The writing is sharp, the characters are well-crafted and quite relatable...moreA fine recommendation from Ryan Parker, I just couldn't put this thing down. The writing is sharp, the characters are well-crafted and quite relatable. Tropper's wit is sharp and his humorous is ridiculously laugh out loud funny, until you realize the pain and suffering lying underneath. It's Tropper's go-to delivery and it catches you off guard enough to make his prose and his characters that much more poignant. Again, a great book that I highly recommend.(less)
Largely absent from the national stage, Tim Gautreaux continues to be one of the most underrated novelists of our day, and The Missing finds him firin...moreLargely absent from the national stage, Tim Gautreaux continues to be one of the most underrated novelists of our day, and The Missing finds him firing on all cylinders. Set in the post-WWI South along the Mississippi River, largely in New Orleans and around Baton Rouge, Gautreaux's riverboat tale of a lost child and a man's quest to find her and come to terms with his own lost childhood is masterful in its pacing and appreciation for life on the Mississippi River.
I'm prejudiced against endings where everyone seems to get what they deserve, and the ending of The Missing comes close to wrapping up too neatly. Thankfully it manages to paddle its way out of that current before catching ground, rounding out what will probably be one of the better books I will read this year.(less)
After a dose of Faulkner and Barthelme I found it time to take a break from all that heady stuff with Baton Rouge resident Victor Gischler's supernatu...moreAfter a dose of Faulkner and Barthelme I found it time to take a break from all that heady stuff with Baton Rouge resident Victor Gischler's supernatural romp through Prague. And quite a romp it was, what with machine gun toting priests, seductive vampiresses, wooden golems and a lycanthrope thrown in to boot.
A self-admitted parody of Dan Brown's almost too popular 'crack the code to solve the ancient mystery' motif, I found this a highly entertaining read. Gischler's prose is tight, his humor wry and dark, and he gives a pretty damn good historical tour of Prague as well. As the weather cools and you're looking for a good read to pass a cold, wet weekend, I'd say put this one at the top of the stack.(less)
First off, if you're interest in picking this up solely rests with it being a post-Katrina novel, don't bother. My first of a few disappointments with...moreFirst off, if you're interest in picking this up solely rests with it being a post-Katrina novel, don't bother. My first of a few disappointments with this book is that it was grossly mis-characterized in advertising as being such. Short answer: it isn't. Living in proximity to and having seen what was(n't) left of Waveland, MS after the storm, I was looking forward to a book that utilized that landscape to narrative effect, but the storm and what it did to the town is really only mentioned in passing and unfortunately prime ground for fictional exploration was left unturned.
As far as what this book actually is, well, there are a few disappointments there too. Technically, some of the most important dialogue in the book is flat and stilted. Character-wise, the lead player, Vaughn, leaves a lot to be desired. Granted, the plot of this novel is that this guy is floating through his late mid-life letting the currents around him take him where he may. Central to the plot is the current that has him and his girlfriend moving in with his ex-wife after she is roughed up by a boyfriend. Vaughn can't seem to take any action for himself whatsoever, be it good or bad. In fact it takes a visit from his brother to break up the odd residential three-some mentioned above, which comes off as deliberate ploy to keep Vaughn (and the author) from having to confront both the internal and external ramifications of the relationships with the two women in his life. And that's fine if it's that kind of futility the book is trying to convey. But if that is the point, then Barthelme should at least go to some lengths to endear the characters inability to act to his reader, and at this he fails.
It reminds me of a situation I regularly encounter with one of my favorite books, The Moviegoer, and how people who read it react to Binx Bolling's willingness to stand by in rapt bemusement as the world around him pushes him along. Binx's (in)actions infuriate a number of readers and yet it's one of my favorite books because Walker Percy gives you plenty of insight into Binx's thoughts and reasoning on the matter. Vaughn, on the other hand, has no larger, transcendental motivations, and Barthelme, either due to laziness or through an attempt to convey some complexity that I completely missed, leaves us with a character who comes off as both unable to act upon the world and ignorant of the fact that he can't. I wouldn't even consider it a matter of selfishness or self-absorption, Vaughn just seems about as self-aware as a drinking glass, which really doesn't give me much to work with as a reader.
And yet the book isn't terrible. Had I read it at age 43 save 33 I might have found themes that hit a bit closer to home. But there's not something for everybody in this book and I'm not really sure who the somebody the book is for actually is, other than they probably aren't big readers.(less)