Booker Long List 2012: “Swimming Home”

August 29, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Posted in Fiction | Leave a comment

This is the first book I have read off the Man Booker long list for 2012.  It is my prediction that Deborah Levy’s Swimming Home will make it to the short list.

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Spare, poetic, powerful, Swimming Home is an electric read.  It’s a little creepy and entirely believable.  At under 160 pages, it’s an easy choice if you want a taste of the Bookers.


Next up: Necropolis by Jeet Thayil.

“The Uncertain Places”

August 27, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Posted in Fantasy | Leave a comment

I really enjoyed The Uncertain Places, though I’m not generally a fantasy reader.  Lisa Goldstein is a talented writer and this book has what I consider to be staying power.

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The story of The Uncertain Places raises some great questions about luck and envy.  What would you do if you could “have it all”?  How much of the good fortune in your life is sheer circumstance?  Are you controlled by fate?

“Area 51”

August 27, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Area 51, enigma and legend: Will the book that bears your name appeal to conspiracy theorists, or drive them around the bend?

When I saw this book I made it my business to pick it up and read it as quickly as possible.  In fact, Area 51 is a potboiler, despite its heft.  Annie Jacobsen is a terrific, engaging writer, and she appears to be an extremely thorough researcher.

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This book addresses UFO sightings and government cover-ups.  It will tell you all you want to know about Roswell.  You may be as surprised as I was, though, to find that this is maybe 10% of the story.  This is another of those “I have a history degree and I had no idea about any of this stuff” sorts of stories.  There are so many revelations never before published that I lost count.

Area 51 is an important, intriguing, creepy book.  One of the stunning things about it is that it made it into print.


August 22, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Craig Thompson has the rare talent of writing and drawing graphic novels in such different styles that they could have been created by different artists.  His stunning book “Habibi” is a masterpiece.

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Everything about this book is impressive.  I was most impressed by the effort Thompson appears to have made to learn Arabic script.  I was just blown away by “Habibi” and I can’t wait to see what Craig Thompson is working on next.

“Broken Harbor”

August 6, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Posted in Fiction | 2 Comments

One of the most satisfying pleasures of reading is bringing home a brand-new book by a beloved author and knowing you are going to love it. Tana French hardly needs my endorsement, but I just want to say that Broken Harbor was a fantastic read by a very talented author.

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I like crime fiction. Tana French’s work elevates what would be a thrashingly good detective story into magnetically compelling psychological drama. Everything we love about her work is here: the atmosphere of sorrow, creepiness, dread, and foreboding; the intricate plot; the nuanced characters; the dialogue. Once again she has given us the perspective of a protagonist who played a side role in an earlier book. All we can do is chew our fingernails wondering which one will narrate her next offering.

I read this book late at night, comme il faut, and it really creeped me out a few times. I thought I saw things crawling on the wall. I had to adjust my reading light to make sure it stopped casting a shadow beyond the page. It got my pulse pounding. Now that I’m finished with it, I’m a little sad because… well, because it’s over and it’ll be a long wait until the next one.

PS I took a crack at the cryptogram on the Acknowledgments page. I’m pretty sure it’s either not in English or it is more than one layer of code.

Knock Knock

August 3, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment


The Thrill That Had Gone

August 2, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

I was just thinking about my poor, neglected blog, and how few books I’ve read since trying to write my own novel. The mojo seemed to have gone. The new Stephen King that I pre-ordered languishes unread on my shelf.

Then we went to Oakland. I took Sweetie Junior to a great bookstore called Diesel, fifteen minutes before closing. In that short time I saw that new titles by several terrific authors had been released without my noticing. Gold by Chris Cleave; Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness; A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers; Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel; and several others caught my eye. You know how it is at an indie bookstore. Every shelf has a handwritten tag pointing out an obscure yet fantastic book. Many of them I had read when they first came out in hardcover. I started feeling the mojo.

We left at closing and walked up the street to Pegasus & Pendragon. They keep later hours and that’s all I really ask.

And THEN – [cue violins] – I SAW IT.

Broken Harbor by TANA fricking FRENCH.

See, I’m a frugalite and I don’t typically… buy books. Especially not in hardcover. But I tucked this one under my arm and paid for it without batting an eye.

(Sweetie Junior is truly the child of my spirit. I offered to buy her a book but she declined. Instead she noted down The Night Circus and *gasp* The Magicians in her iPhone for later. It is very weird that she is old enough to read it now. Thanks for asking).

Now Broken Harbor is sitting in my lap. If Tana French were here she could sit in my lap too.

I’m back.

Not Currently Available

August 1, 2012 at 2:25 am | Posted in Book Blather | Leave a comment

It’s Booker time once again and I am trying to get my books. I ordered four from Powell’s using my accumulated store credit.

None of the remaining eight are available in the US yet.

Since I prefer digital books anyway, I thought I would buy them in Kindle format and read them on my phone. Alas, while they are all listed on Amazon, none of them are “currently available.” Thwarted!

This raises a few questions. Are the authors served by this arrangement? Is the consumer served? (No!) How long will this state of affairs last as more and more books are sold electronically?

It appears possible to circumvent the problem by somehow changing the location on my phone so the website thinks I am British. This sounds not only beyond my technological expertise but also a way to somehow get in trouble down the road. So I’ll resort to what I did last year, and order them directly from the UK Amazon. It’s not against the law or anything. Although probably not for lack of trying.

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