Monday, October 8, 2007

The Thirteenth Tale

Quickie recap: Margaret is at best an amateur biographer, so when she is contacted by the greatest living author to tell her worldly secrets, her surprise is great - but will soon be eclipsed by the the life that this woman painfully admits to.

Quickie review: A story within a story within a story - at no point boring, at no point anything less than enthralling. It sparkles as a novel (though the sparkle dulled somewhat when the narrator knows things that, from her limited point of view, she had no way of knowing) and despite some flaws, it felt a little magical.

Quickie recommendation: Mais oui.
**Check it out at the Book Lounge!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Areas of My Expertise

by John Hodgman.

Quickie recap: John Hodgman generously shares complete world knowledge with the reader in his satirical almanac (note: this world knowledge, while entertaining, is entirely made up).

Quickie review: Parts were gut-bustingly funny, and other parts dragged a bit (a list of hobo names is funny; 700 hobo names get tiresome) so it's hard for me to pass definitive judgment. I wanted to like it more than I actually did like it, but I certainly didn't think it was bad. It just wasn't as snappy as it I imagined it being based on Hodgman's brilliance on This American Life, The Daily Show, etc, etc. He's a funny guy, but he's less funny as an author.

Quickie recommendation: Better than a lot of junk out there, but not quite up to snuff.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Vanishing Point

by David Markson.

Quickie recap: Plotless, this "novel" is better described as a "collage" of words. In reality, a collection of quotes and trivia pertaining to artists and the way they live (also the way they die, are inspired, are often underrated) while the "author" grapples with his own sense of mortality.

Quickie review: I cannot begin to give a fair review to this "novel" because it has become clear to me that I am a "traditionalist" when it comes to novels - you know, characters and the things that happen to them. I missed that. But I also enjoyed a new sense of zing that I got from this hodge podge. It didn't excite me like a juicy story, but it wasn't bad.

Quickie recommendation: If you're like me and you need to open up your mind a bit, then maybe you should do yourself a favour and give it a try.

Henderson the Rain King

by Saul Bellow.

Quickie recap: Henderson is dissatisfied with his pampered American life so he escapes to Africa where his awkwardness follows him until he accidentally becomes the Rain King and meets a wise King who loves lions just a little too much.

[Okay - worst recap ever. The story is not like other stories, and it doesn't translate well into the "quickie" version. Just trust me when I tell you it's great.]

Quickie review: When reading Saul Bellow, the neurons fire, the synapses pop with electrical charges that tickle me all the way down my spine - I can hear Bill Cosby shouting Wow! Wow! Wow! over and over inside my head. It's like the words are chocolate-covered, each one to be savoured and fawned over. Oh, joy!

Quickie recommendation: Roarrr!!!!