This is not a novel about two couples going to dinner in an upscale restaurant; it's a dream about abortion. The blood, the fingers above the food, thThis is not a novel about two couples going to dinner in an upscale restaurant; it's a dream about abortion. The blood, the fingers above the food, the body in front of the ATM, the violent climactic act of the woman, the tests, the son's essay on capital punishment, the rational for taking a criminal's life before the crime is committed, the manager's incompetent use of the wine opener and then breaking the cork in the wine bottle--the transformation of unsettled things into the characters and events of the dream, and the dream then disguised by the novelist as a black comedy of manners. A funny and deeply disturbing book that will find its way back into your dreams....more
The spellbinding logic of a dream, but not a dream. The narrator has a real life, but when that life falls apart he fabricates a second life to restorThe spellbinding logic of a dream, but not a dream. The narrator has a real life, but when that life falls apart he fabricates a second life to restore the first. He lives this fantasy life in the real world, but his language, the syntax and diction, is that of Dr. Watson. With this language he creates a world for himself that will ultimately bring him to an understanding of how his first life disintegrated. Whether he lives out his fantasy in a walk-up flat, asylum or gutter, is not important. The real world is always threatening to break through and the narrator occasionally senses that something is off--events are frequently hazy; he can't quite remember. ...more
The murder of a transvestite sets in motion this solid police procedural novel. Captain Josie Corsino of the Hollywood Division is a savvy veteran ofThe murder of a transvestite sets in motion this solid police procedural novel. Captain Josie Corsino of the Hollywood Division is a savvy veteran of the streets and little troubled by the varied forms of sexual orientation and practice that take place in low and high places, but this case threatens to go outside the already expansive box. Author Connie Dial, a former law enforcement officer, paints a detailed and realistic picture of a Hollywood that the tourists don’t see or if they do interpret it all wrong. A representative passage: “The tourists coming out of the restaurants and theaters gathered around the man [a transvestite] thinking he was obviously there for their entertainment. Ramona smiled and posed for cell phone pictures with retired old men from towns like Phoenix and Miami while their wives cringed but took the photos. It was no different from standing in front of the world’s biggest ball of string to prove to the neighbors they’d gone somewhere and found something they’d never allow to exist in their own backyard.” Woven into the investigation are Corsino’s always interesting personal dilemmas, including an impending divorce, her son’s cohabitation with a woman older than Josie, and the reemergence of an ex-lover, who gets assigned to the case....more
If you’re looking for redeeming qualities in a main character, actually any character, stay away from Ken Wohlrob's No Tears for Old Scratch. LovelessIf you’re looking for redeeming qualities in a main character, actually any character, stay away from Ken Wohlrob's No Tears for Old Scratch. Loveless, cynical, pitiless, immoral and amoral, abrasive, devious, Machiavellian, our hero Biff, whose last name is [*-----------], perhaps unpronounceable, perhaps unsaid for other reasons, is on holiday (a stolen bus ticket) to the decidedly unfriendly, uncharming and unpicturesque city of Knob's End, aka The Holiest Town in America (don't ask). On the bus, Biff's fondness for children, second only to W.C. Fields, will embroil him with little Truman, a talented seat-kicker, which drives the plot. In Knob's End, Biff will encounter the down-and-out, those tossed out of the down-and-out, murderers, height-challenged maniacs, fools, sadistic cops, zealots, libertines and librarians,in a word: America or [----}. A biting satire, a meditation on good and evil, a foot up your ass, take your pick. Oh, yes, Biff has one redeeming quality: he can take a shot, many shots. A funny, wise and compelling read.
Laura Rae Amos's debut novel follows several friends as they try to resolve relationships within and without the group. The main characters, Jodie, AmLaura Rae Amos's debut novel follows several friends as they try to resolve relationships within and without the group. The main characters, Jodie, Amelia and Drew, are well-drawn and sympathetic (these are people whose intentions are always good), but fall short of being consistently intriguing. Powerful scenes (many told in flashback) are interspersed among leisurely stretches of self-introspection and casual conversations about impending weddings (many weddings). At the heart of the novel is a variation on the eternal triangle: X loves Y, but Y loves N, who loves Y, but with reservations. The novel succeeds in examining the dilemma from every possible angle. Many readers will relate to the sublime psychological tortures Jodie inflicts upon herself trying to figure it all out. There are many interesting setups. Jodie is a doctor (an obstetrician, I believe), and I liked very much her observations on the job, in fact I wish there were more of them. Jodie’s relationship with another doctor, Berges, provides several tender and humorous moments. The novel is well-written, the prose consistent. The plot is low-key and its best elements kick in a little late, but it is meticulously worked out. ...more
It's World War II and Russian is making its stand against the German army, which is trying to smash through Russia's western front. The story is toldIt's World War II and Russian is making its stand against the German army, which is trying to smash through Russia's western front. The story is told mainly through Russian officers who are fighting both the German military machine and their own political system in the form of dogmatic,implacable commissars. The book brilliantly captures the interplay between the beset officers and Stalin's idealogues. ...more