Jun 27, 2016

Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, by Judd Trichter

My biggest complaint about this book is the copy editing. Misspelled words, incorrect words used, sentences that don't quite make sense - was this book copy edited at all? Surprising for St. Martin's Press, usually a solid, reputable publisher.

That being said, the book is good, an interesting, unique idea performed, for the most part, well for a first novel. Eliot is in love with Iris. Eliot is a heartbeat, a human being with a belly button and a pulse. Iris is an android, with an outlet for a navel and a red fleck in her eye, a flaw from the factory production line that she has embraced and replicates in all her artwork. Their love is forbidden, with radicals on both sides of the fight taking lives brutally. Then Iris disappears, and Eliot must work alone to find her scattered parts since no one cares about a single missing android. Things get a bit ridiculous at times, very action movie-like, and it's fairly predictable, but I like the ingenuity of the concept. I hope Trichter continues working on his writing, and look forward to watching the ass kicking movie this particular book will inevitably turn into.

Jun 22, 2016

At Night We Walk in Circles, by Daniel Alarcon

This is a thoroughly enjoyable novel, and though interesting in format, I don't have much else to say about it. "At Night We Walk in Circles" is about a young man, Nelson, and the journey he takes with a legendary guerilla theater group through their much-changed South American country. We soon realize that this novel is a transcript of sorts, that our narrator is another young man who is interviewing anyone he can find that is at all connected to Nelson to get at Nelson's story. The writing is very good, with a tinge of South American insouciance. I liked the conceit, where the novel reads in a traditional narrative but with dashes of the interviews peppered liberally throughout. It's a commentary on acting and actors, among many other subjects, and how one can be subsumed by a character so completely as to lose oneself. This would make an excellent book club read, as there's little to offend anyone's sensibilities but many aspects that would provide rich discussion topics. Plus I just love the title!

Jun 6, 2016

The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, by Terry Pratchett

After that last essay compilation, I needed something mellow to kick start my brain. Cue the ever-wonderful Terry Pratchett! Maurice is a very special cat: he can talk, and so can the Clan of rats he's convinced to work with him to bilk unsuspecting towns out of their gold. Oh, plus there's the stupid-looking kid who can play a mean pipe. You see where this is going? Add in a precocious girl with a head full of stories, some rat catchers with malicious intent, and some seriously philosophical musings by rodents, and you get a pretty damn enjoyable romp through fairyland. Always a pleasure, Sir Terry, always a pleasure.

Jun 5, 2016

The World Is On Fire, by Joni Tevis

The subtitle for this collection of essays is "Scrap, Treasure, and Songs of Apocalypse," which doesn't make much sense before you read this book, but certainly does after. Tevis starts with a meditation on the Winchester Mystery House, a well-known attraction in Northern California, contrasting the Winchester's "crazy," paranoid builder's public image with the very human grief that drove her to build it. We witness the atomic bomb tests of Nevada, advertised as a tourist attraction, while retracing Buddy Holly's last steps before that fateful crash. Tevis's miscarriage then subsequent infertility treatments are partnered with Freddy Mercury writing "Somebody to Love."

There are two kinds of very good writers: the first writes language that flows like crystal water and leaves you breathless; the second writes with intense deliberation and is no less beautiful, but takes work and careful reading. Tevis is the latter, and as unique and emotional as her essays are, they are not easy to read and require a certain state of mind to fully digest. I'm glad I read this book, but I fear few readers have the stamina to stick with this challenging read.