Piper Kerman: Orange is the New Black

I’m usually a book-is-better kinda guy, but I found that reading the real Piper Kerman’s account of her incarceration while watching the fictional Piper Chapman’s experience in the Netflix show inspired by the book heightened my enjoyment of both. On the one hand, the book provides the “okay, how much of this really happened?” solidityContinue reading “Piper Kerman: Orange is the New Black”

Greg Ketter: Shelf Life: Fantastic Stories Celebrating Bookstores

Greg Ketter, owner of Minneapolis’ DreamHaven books describes this volume as a labor of love, and that’s evident. But its thematic focus is so narrow that it’s probably better dipped into than read straight-through: it’s a bit too easy to play spot-the-trope (haunted bookstore, haunted books, store-of-books-never-written, store-of-books-that-warp-reality), and I found the quality uneven. IContinue reading “Greg Ketter: Shelf Life: Fantastic Stories Celebrating Bookstores”

Aryn Kyle: Boys and Girls Like You and Me: Stories

My friend Terri wrote a scathing review of this book, and it acted on me like the classic spoiled milk skit: “Ugh, it’s terrible! Here, taste it!”* I was perversely curious, and after noticing that other reviews of the book seemed wildly polarized — love it/hate it, not much inbetween — I was downright intrigued.Continue reading “Aryn Kyle: Boys and Girls Like You and Me: Stories”

Stephanie Kuehnert: I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone

I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone interleaves two stories. Emily Black (in the first person), abandoned at a young age by her mother, grows into her own identity and musical career. Meanwhile Louisa (in the third person) , the abandoning mother, searches for some sort of punk rock apotheosis that will absolve the guilty secretContinue reading “Stephanie Kuehnert: I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone”

Caitlin R. Kiernan: Trilobite

I loved Threshold and it scared the bejeezus outta me, but I’m not sure that I completely got it. It’s a bit of a puzzle box. It’s not the sort of book where one version of “objective reality” is an applicable concept, and it’s about the unknowable more than about the unknown. But throughout IContinue reading “Caitlin R. Kiernan: Trilobite”

Caitlin R. Kiernan: Threshold

Threshold is dark and rich and strange, and no superficial description is going to do it justice. Its bones are a Stumbling Onto That Which Should Not Be Disturbed tale in a mode not completely un-Lovecraftian. Kiernan isn’t as resolutely xenophobic as Howard P., but perhaps no less sanguine about the outcome of encounters withContinue reading “Caitlin R. Kiernan: Threshold”

Caitlin R. Kiernan: Alabaster

Dancy Flamarrion is a young drifter shadowed by a being that calls itself an angel and tells her to go places and kill things. Not people, usually, depending on how you define your terms. The stories in this volume mostly grew from a paragraph in Kiernan’s novel Threshold that lists some of Flamarrion’s prior exploits,Continue reading “Caitlin R. Kiernan: Alabaster”

Jeff Kass: Knuckleheads

Knuckleheads knocked me out. It’s full of finely observed stories with tremendously assured first-person voices. Many of these stories share common elements: characters in or looking back on high school sports careers, on one side of the bully/bullied equation, with a heightened (even ambivalent) sense of body consciousness — the collection is well-titled. But theContinue reading “Jeff Kass: Knuckleheads”

Michael Kaminski: The Secret History of Star Wars

The foremost thing I want to note about The Secret History of Star Wars is that I found fascinating nuggets throughout the whole book. Next, that it represents a hell of a lot of work on Kaminski’s part — it weighs in at over 600 pages. Third, that it would benefit greatly from a strongContinue reading “Michael Kaminski: The Secret History of Star Wars”

Julie Klausner: I Don’t Care About Your Band

I had to read this book because of Klausner’s back-cover crack about “guys in their thirties who’ve never been married, ride their bikes to work, and really like Death Cab for Cutie,”* since that acurately described me when my fiancée and I started dating. (I’ve since given up on my thirties and on DCfC (IContinue reading “Julie Klausner: I Don’t Care About Your Band”