Pat Benatar : Between a Heart and a Rock Place

Reading Between a Heart and a Rock Place was a lot of fun. It was definitely a read-a-lot-of-excerpts-to-my-wonderful-and-tolerant-wife book. Benatar’s career trajectory is kinda unusual in rock’n’roll, given that it doesn’t involve a trip to rehab (or its conspicuous lack). It’s sadly more typical in that one defining characteristic of that career is ongoing disputesContinue reading “Pat Benatar : Between a Heart and a Rock Place”

Beard, Donihe, Duza, et al: The Bizarro Starter Kit (Orange)

I hoped The Bizarro Starter Kit would help me figure out if I’d like bizarro fiction, a genre self-defined by a loose collective of writers with a shared love of cult/trash cinema. It didn’t. The Bizarro Starter Kit makes the case that there’s too much going on for me to dismiss it, and too muchContinue reading “Beard, Donihe, Duza, et al: The Bizarro Starter Kit (Orange)”

Chaz Brenchley: Blood Waters

I learned of Blood Waters from Bryan Talbot’s fascinating graphic novel* Alice in Sunderland. I was hopelessly intrigued by the book’s genesis: Brenchley produced it in the role of “crimewriter-in-residence on the St Peter’s Riverside Sculpture Project in Sunderland, 1993-94.” The 10 stories in Blood Waters nominally seem like they ought to fit among theContinue reading “Chaz Brenchley: Blood Waters”

BikeSnobNYC: Bike Snob – Systematically & Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling

I wasn’t familiar with the Bike Snob NYC blog before reading this book, but they share a breezy, sardonic style. Readers of the blog will probably appreciate the book (and vice versa). As the pseudonym implies, the snob is fiercely opinionated. I imagine most cyclists will find themselves thinking “heck, yeah!” and “no, you moron!”Continue reading “BikeSnobNYC: Bike Snob – Systematically & Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling”

Stephen R. Braun: Buzz – The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine

Braun’s lucid, entertaining, and informative book is evenly split between discussion of two molecules, ethyl alcohol and caffeine, and how they behave in the human body (particularly the brain). Despite its subtitle, it’s much longer on “science” than on “lore,” but Braun doesn’t assume any particular background in organic or neuro-chemistry; Buzz is readily accessibleContinue reading “Stephen R. Braun: Buzz – The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine”

Holly Black: The Poison Eaters & Other Stories

The Poison Eaters & Other Stories was my introduction to Holly Black’s writing, and leaves me definitely looking forward to more. It’s just what you might express from a Small Beer Press’s more-or-less young adult imprint; it features vampires and other eminently marketable creatures of the night, but Black’s careful, evocative prose is more literaryContinue reading “Holly Black: The Poison Eaters & Other Stories”

Paolo Bacigalupi: The Windup Girl

I eventually decided Bacigalupi’s Pump Six and Other Stories was one of the strongest and most-memorable single-author science-fiction story collections I’ve read in the past several years. If The Windup Girl didn’t quite live up to my expectations, it’s at least partly because those expectations were high. But I also think that The Windup GirlContinue reading “Paolo Bacigalupi: The Windup Girl”

Jedediah Berry, The Manual of Detection

I loved this book despite a few quibbles. It relates what happens to Charles Unwin when he is unexpectedly promoted from clerk to detective of a mysterious agency, and finds himself rather unwillingly investigating the disappearance of Travis T. Sivart, the operative for whom he served as the clerk. In typical noir fashion, it’s soonContinue reading “Jedediah Berry, The Manual of Detection”

John Cook, Mac McCaughan, Laura Ballance: Our Noise – the Story of Merge Records

Three quick endorsements of Our Noise: I read every word within a 24-hour span I’ve already purchased some Merge recordings I hadn’t previously heard The palpable enthusiasm of Ryan Adam’s (slightly incoherent) intro almost makes me want to hear what he’s been up to lately The structure of Our Noise is pretty genius: there’s aContinue reading “John Cook, Mac McCaughan, Laura Ballance: Our Noise – the Story of Merge Records”

Paolo Bacigalupi: Pump Six and Other Stories

At its best, Pump Six reminds me of George Saunders and Lucius Shepard: Saunders for the wry yet disturbing cautionary near-future dystopias, Shepard for the core of outrage that runs deep through these stories — except where the anger of Shepard’s breakthrough fiction was directed at U.S. imperialism, Bacigalupi seems driven by environmental issues. “TheContinue reading “Paolo Bacigalupi: Pump Six and Other Stories”