Apr 13, 2011

Stories from the Vinyl Cafe, by Stuart McLean

I received this book as part of the Reddit Secret Santa in which I participate, and I am very pleasantly surprised. The author is Canadian and, from what I can gather, has a radio show called "The Vinyl Cafe." I'm not sure whether these particular stories were part of his radio show, or whether they were originally meant for print. Most of the stories revolve around the same person, Dave, though there are some other main characters we meet. The writing is simple, but not sparse or terse. It's an incredibly easy book to read; I finished it in four days. Reading the stories is a bit like peeking into someone's diary: we get to hear what the character's subconsciences are really feeling, and there is no id filter. The stories revolve around peripheral events that are important, but mostly are about how the little things accumulate to create the sum of a life, or a person. I would definitely read more of McLean's writing.

Apr 11, 2011

The Kingdom Beyond the Waves, by Stephen Hunt

This book, while well-written and generally quite enjoyable, is probably about 100 pages too long. The story is refreshingly original, the world is extremely detailed and well thought out, the characters are believable and relatable, and over all, I had fun trying to piece it all together along with the characters. However, around the last fifth of the book, the writing starts to get rather staid, and feels almost tired. That being said, I have an incredible amount of respect for authors who delve into something that is entirely new. The world in which Amelia Harsh lives is vaguely similar to our own, and seems as though it could be modeled on a far distant future Earth. Religion and science intermingle comfortably; both are quite real and quite powerful. But the motivations remain wholly human: greed, regret, longing, nostalgia. Hunt is a master at creating worlds, he just needs an editor with a bit of a heavier hand. I look forward to reading more of his work in the future.