This is a funny book. A fascinating book, a piece of science-fantasy with a classic "what if" that is expertly followed through on: What if vampires eThis is a funny book. A fascinating book, a piece of science-fantasy with a classic "what if" that is expertly followed through on: What if vampires existed, and they managed to turn basically everyone on the planet into vampires? What would happen? How would civilization go on, and what would it look like? And how many comedic situations would ensue?
It's not extremely literary or complicated or deep. It is a beautiful little story about relationships and parenting and parental love, chosen family, loss, and nostalgia. It's a book that I would think would appeal mostly to vampire fans. In addition to than that demographic, it probably would have done quite well marketed as young adult fiction. It's a very clean, PG-13 book - although it refers to a lot of ultra-violence and super hot and bloody erotic vamp-sex, everything is at a distance, like the old romances where the lovers tumble into bed and then the scene fades to black. The humor, the double entendres, are at time a tad bit too clever and too frequent, but it's that kind of book. (I guess someone categorizing it in a literary way would call it a farce?)
Full disclosure: I am/was a vampire fan; not an obsessive one, but I used to devour Lestat novels pretty ravenously. Also, I knew David Sosnowski years (like almost 25 years!) ago, back when he only wrote poetry and would show up at the Ann Arbor Poetry Slam and pretty much kick almost everyone else's ass. Then he started writing novels. He's a great guy and a great writer and I'm psyched to read this.
(Note: I'd love to read more of this kind of thing that gets even more deep into the possible science of how vampirism could work. Like what's the exact biochemistry of the process? How can blood be enough to sustain them? etc etc... )...more
One of the best new novels I've read in a long time. Of course this is due to my interests, one of which is art that blends, or is about the blendingOne of the best new novels I've read in a long time. Of course this is due to my interests, one of which is art that blends, or is about the blending of, truth and fiction. This is a novel about a writer who writes a fake memoir as a desperate attempt to have his writing get at something truly real. The book alternates chapters between the fake memoir and the "real" story of how the writer gets from being a shy sheltered kid in rural Florida to appearing on an Oprah Winfrey-like TV show with his best-selling "fraudulent" book. On the way, Bennett explores and expounds on many important themes, like the nature of modern warfare, the fraudulent and media-driven Iraq War in particular, the pretensions and hubris of creative writing MFA programs, the pain heartbreak and obsessive, unrequited love... the list goes on. In a way I think this book is our era's version of Heller's Catch-22. Satirical, funny, dark, smart and complicated but full of compelling story lines that pull you along.
I wonder what David Shields, author of "Reality Hunger," would think of this book? At first I thought it was the perfect realization of some of his ideas. But then I realized maybe not as much so, because it is in the end fiction, perhaps even wholly fiction (although I do wonder how much of John Townley is Eric Bennett). Shields would probably love it if someone really DID do what is depicted in "A Big Enough Lie," wrote and sold a memoir that's really novel. Like "A Million Little Pieces" if James Frey had intentionally written it as memoir (a lot of people don't know it was his publisher that had the idea of marketing it as non-fiction).
In the end though, a great and perfectly apt novel for our age....more
Excellent. Lots of stuff about parenthood, marriage, class, gentrification, and more. Some of it is wise, some bitingly satirical. Makes me definitelyExcellent. Lots of stuff about parenthood, marriage, class, gentrification, and more. Some of it is wise, some bitingly satirical. Makes me definitely want to read more of Greenfeld's work....more
Full disclosure: Mykle's a friend. Despite that, believe me when I say this is a great book. His best yet. Mykle Hansen's work almost always containsFull disclosure: Mykle's a friend. Despite that, believe me when I say this is a great book. His best yet. Mykle Hansen's work almost always contains elements of the "silly" and over-the-top wackiness. But don't let that fool you. There's downright fine writing in there. Really. And this book's a page-turner too. I made myself late to things because I didn't want to stop reading this book.
The story is many things: a nuclear armageddon sci-fi space opera, a parody of space operas, a satire on the porn industry, a meditation on artificial intelligence, a feminist allegory, and more. The commentary is spot-on, the humor kills, and language is artful, the messages profound. ...more
This is not great literature, but it is great inspirational storytelling for kids who might be geeks or are leaning toward becoming geeks, interestedThis is not great literature, but it is great inspirational storytelling for kids who might be geeks or are leaning toward becoming geeks, interested in computers, hacking, cryptography, and civil liberties. Basically the book is a piece of not-so-subtle propaganda - a word I use simply as description, not as value judgement. Doctorow is trying to spread and instill a way of thinking about politics, the "War on Terror," the Security State, and related issues. He does so with writing that is pretty basic, though it is competent storytelling that kept me turning the pages and wondering what would happen. There was a lot of (to me) over-obvious, breaking-the-fourth-wall explanation, mostly of stuff I already knew, on topics ranging from ciphers to DNS to San Francisco Mission District burritos. Some of that was fun to recognize and skim over, while other instances of that made me wonder if young readers would get bored or angry with such bald instructional passages and just set the book down. The potential problem is that when you cross over the line from political literature into expository how-to manual thinly disguised as fiction, you run a risk, and you also waste an opportunity to make truly great art. I could argue that David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest" occupies the other end of the spectrum, in that it covers a lot of the same ground, politically, that "Little Brother" does, but it does so while also being an amazing work of avant-garde literature that is at many times formally brilliant and challenging, something that "Little Brother" definitely never is. But of course I would be clueless and stupid to think that the average 14-year-old computer nerd might get the same kind of call-to-arms buzz from DFW's mammoth opus as from Doctorow's book, or even finish it. I just think that some middle ground might be the better way to go, because any kid smart and dorky enough to care about jamming arphids or installing linux on Xboxes will most likely also be smart enough to smell literary hamfistedness and benefit from the pleasure of reading a piece of writing that is not just good, but great. Doctorow's book is good-not-great writing, but it is admittedly very good popular education....more
This book proves that Frey was not a flash-in-the-pan with "A Million Little Pieces." Here he takes the same intense and emotional style turned to focThis book proves that Frey was not a flash-in-the-pan with "A Million Little Pieces." Here he takes the same intense and emotional style turned to focus on the city of Los Angeles and a variety of fictional but very realistic inhabitants. I kept wanting the various little story threads to somehow intersect, which is one thing that drives the book forward. The structure is a neverending alternation between various historical and statistical factoids about the city and various characters, mostly newly arriving in the city and trying to set up a life for themselves. Some of the characters Frey keeps coming back to and building a plot, others you only see once and then never again. It's a bit dizzying and sometimes frustrating but ultimately forms an experience that is gripping and wise. It makes me glad I moved away from L.A. as soon as I did, although the book also makes me kind of want to move there....more