Karen Joy Fowler: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Several folks whose judgment I respect urged all and sundry to read We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves without reading any of the jacket copy or other reviews. If the combined weight of multiple recommendations wasn’t enough to convince me, my previous experience with Fowler’s short fiction and The Jane Austen Book Club was. I’dContinue reading “Karen Joy Fowler: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves”

Gillian Flynn: Gone Girl

I had a very mixed response to Gone Girl, and a decidedly see-saw reading experience. It features two strong and very distinct authorial voices, both rendered with considerable verve, and these initially drew me in. But I quickly grew impatient with long lags between broad hints (not nearly subtle enough to be called foreshadows) andContinue reading “Gillian Flynn: Gone Girl”

Mick Farren: The Quest of the DNA Cowboys, Synaptic Manhunt

Farren’s “DNA Cowboys” trilogy had been on my to-read list for a long time, and I finally decided to give it a go. It’s a simultaneous homage to and send up of Burroughs-style “planetary romance,” raunchier, more overtly parodic, and much less structured than Philip José Farmer’s “World of Tiers” novels, but not entirely dissimilar.Continue reading “Mick Farren: The Quest of the DNA Cowboys, Synaptic Manhunt”

Julian Fellowes: Snobs

I like Julian Fellowes’ TV series Downton Abbey quite a bit, but unfortunately I bought this book before I realized that relatively little of what I like about the show is about the writing, particularly the plotting. It’s almost uniformly excellently acted, and the production design is gorgeous. Certainly some of my emotional investment inContinue reading “Julian Fellowes: Snobs”

Rob Felder (ed.): Damn Yankees

Let’s get this straight: the only reason I checked this book out of the library was because of the parenthetical phrase in the subtitle, “Twenty-four major league writers on the world’s most loved (and hated) team.” It promised a good dollop of hatin’ on the pinstripes, and that was reason enough for me to checkContinue reading “Rob Felder (ed.): Damn Yankees”

Tina Fey : Bossypants

Bossypants is a weird mix: one part autobiography, one part collection of comic essays, with a little bit of serious social relevance, and dash of business book for good measure. Not only does Fey offer some decent advice for managing a creative team, her guidelines for improvisation are mostly applicable to a big-deal sales call.Continue reading “Tina Fey : Bossypants”

Jack Finney : 3 by Finney

This omnibus collection of 3 short novels is a case where a current re-reading failed to live up to the expectations set by the first time I encountered the book. The Woodrow Wilson Dime is an expansion/re-working of the short story “The Coin Collector” (featured in I Love Galesburg in the Springtime). I think it’sContinue reading “Jack Finney : 3 by Finney”

Jack Finney : I Love Galesburg in the Springtime

I found reading I Love Galesburg in the Springtime an odd, almost dislocating experience. The well-worn Newton library copy that I borrowed was a first printing — nearly fifty years old. But the thematic thread of nostalgia runs through many of these ten stories, perhaps most bluntly stated in “The Love Letter,” in which theContinue reading “Jack Finney : I Love Galesburg in the Springtime”

Nancy Farmer : The House of the Scorpion

Nancy Farmer crafts an uncomfortably credible dystopian environment in The House of the Scorpion, mostly with just two speculative elements: viable human cloning (with clones treated as chattel) and an uneasy détente between the U.S. and major drug cartels, with the cartels offered non-interference in exchange for border control assistance. I wanted to not believeContinue reading “Nancy Farmer : The House of the Scorpion”

Angie Fox: The Accidental Demon Slayer

Like John Connolly’s The Gates, The Accidental Demon Slayer made me think a lot about my preferred ratio of novelty and familiarity in straightforward escapist genre fiction. The Accidental Demon Slayer‘s mix is a bit too calculated for my taste — Lizzie’s struggle with her suddenly revealed identity as a chosen “slayer” and its accompanyingContinue reading “Angie Fox: The Accidental Demon Slayer”