I decided I wanted to read a contemporary young adult novel after reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn earlier this year, which got me thinking...more I decided I wanted to read a contemporary young adult novel after reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn earlier this year, which got me thinking about all the books I enjoyed as a kid, from The Lord of the Flies to Superfudge. Along came Chris L. Terry's Zero Fade, which follows its pubescent protaganist, Kevin, through the harrowing territory of junior high.
I don't read a lot of YA fiction because, well, I'm not a YA anymore, but Zero Fade, like some of those books I remembered from my own adolescence, resonates as well for adult audiences as I imagine it will with younger ones. It's tough, sensitive, and accessible, and it handles heady themes of race and sexuality genuinely, without ever seeming issue-y. It's just the kind of book I'd want my own son reading around the time he's Kevin's age.
These books are simply amazing. The concept sounds gimmicky, but it works quite well. The trilogy follows a family through the eons of human developme...moreThese books are simply amazing. The concept sounds gimmicky, but it works quite well. The trilogy follows a family through the eons of human development. At the beginning, they are pre-human primates, and each chapter finds them evolving gradually through history and even (by the end of book 3) into our future. The story takes up generally where it left off, although the protagonists are in different times and sometimes places with each new chapter.
The result is a sweeping epic that examines what it means to be human. It's the story of one family, with the story of the whole human race thrown in to boot. If the literary world didn't look down it's nose at anything that could be lumped into a genre like science fiction, fantasy, or horror, these books would be considered classics. (less)
I didn't know what to expect from Portis, knowing only two things about him before I started The Dog of the South:
1) He wrote the book that became Tr...moreI didn't know what to expect from Portis, knowing only two things about him before I started The Dog of the South:
1) He wrote the book that became True Grit, which I must admit I've never seen because I hate John Wayne, knowing only his ridiculously jingoistic war movies.
2) An avid reader friend of mine, the same one who gave me this book, begins frothing at the mouth at the very mention of Portis, proclaiming his genius in much the same fashion that The Dog of the South's Dr. Reo Symes canonizes the fictional J.S. Dix, an enigmatic writer of advice manuals for salesmen.
I certainly wasn't expecting this picaresque road novel brimming with satire worthy of Twain and Cervantes, blindingly brilliant without ever taking itself too seriously.
Portis' characters flail around and bump off of one another, all with their heads so far up their own asses that any kind of genuine connection with one another is impossible. It's a lucid dream of the world that seems especially prescient now, in a 21st century America filled with conspiracy theorists and political and religious extremists screaming at one another across unswimmable gulfs of perception, all wrapped up in their own comfortable little myopic world views and making a great clamor of sound and fury. It's a quest novel about longing and finding a way in the world, a trip down the continent of North America akin to Huck Finn's trip down the Mississippi. It's the funniest novel you're probably ever going to read, and damn near the best. (less)
This is perhaps the best non-fiction book I've ever read. Ostensibly, it's an argument, an attempt to find common ground with fundamentalists in order...moreThis is perhaps the best non-fiction book I've ever read. Ostensibly, it's an argument, an attempt to find common ground with fundamentalists in order to save the earth, but really it's a meditation on the universe and life on this planet. (less)