Mark Z Danielweski: House of Leaves

House of Leaves, is more or less, a purported transcription by a guy named Johnny Truant of a manuscript he finds in a dead man’s apartment. He gradually becomes convinced the work of transcribing it is causing a malevolent supernatural presence to manifest in his life. Truant is nothing if not an unreliable narrator. HeContinue reading “Mark Z Danielweski: House of Leaves”

Tod Davies: Lily the Silent

Lily the Silent reminded me of works by authors who blur the line between fable and emotionally realistic, less overtly symbolic (if still fantastic) narrative, like Angela Carter, Rachel Pollack, and Kelly Link. There’s a lot I admire about it. It’s unambiguously, but not heavily-handed, feminist. It explicitly opposes the conventions of Tolkein-derivative heroic fantasy.Continue reading “Tod Davies: Lily the Silent”

Heather Donahue: Growgirl

When I heard of this book, it sounded like the real-life counterpart of Weeds: Donahue, an actress in career free-fall after a successful movie failed to result in a viable career, decides that raising pot sounds like a viable make-ends-meet option, and makes other highly questionable choices; some whacky and some racy stuff ensues. InContinue reading “Heather Donahue: Growgirl”

Tony DiTerlizzi, Holly Black: The Field Guide

I’ve enjoyed Black’s fiction for adult and young adult readers, and The Field Guide, the first volume of “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” demonstrates a similar playful attitude toward well-established tropes. At the outset the Graces are moving into a spooky new house, but in contrast to more traditional fare, the Graces have recently become a single-parentContinue reading “Tony DiTerlizzi, Holly Black: The Field Guide”

Alan DeNiro : Total Oblivion, More or Less

DeNiro’s first novel (following a well-received string of short stories) presents a transformed near-future America: the nation is beset by anachronistic invaders, ravaged by a mysterious plague, and technology stops working. DeNiro pulls off the neat trick of making his surreal world feel internally consistent, largely because it’s grounded by the narrative voice of Macy,Continue reading “Alan DeNiro : Total Oblivion, More or Less”

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)”

Doug Dorst: The Surf Guru

I usually read single-author short story anthologies interspersed with other fiction because reading too many short stories back-to-back tends to emphasize the commalities of the stories to their detriment. That wasn’t the case with The Surf Guru; I read this book slowly because I wanted to draw it out. The Surf Guru‘s range is impressive,Continue reading “Doug Dorst: The Surf Guru”

Larry Doyle: Go, Mutants!

Go, Mutants! has a lot going on. It’s set a genaration after pretty much every 50’s sci-fi/horror flick ever made actually happened. J!m, the son of a prominent but disgraced and deceased alien invader, is in high school, struggling with high school issues like how to fend off bullies and get a girl to goContinue reading “Larry Doyle: Go, Mutants!”

John Darnielle: Black Sabbath – Master of Reality

Darnielle’s entry on Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality in the 33 1/3 series of books about albums uses the device of a teenager’s diary entries to explore the record. (There’s nothing that specifically identifies the diarist as the kid in The Mountain Goats song “Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton,” but it sure soundsContinue reading “John Darnielle: Black Sabbath – Master of Reality”