Lawrence Watt-Evans: The Final Folly of Captain Dancy and other Pseudo-Historical Fantasies

It’s a bit tricky to describe The Final Folly of Captain Dancy without sounding like I’m damning it with faint praise, so maybe I should say up front that I definitely enjoyed this enough to read more. Watt-Evan’s stories have a bit of an old-school vibe; it’s easy for me to imagine him as aContinue reading “Lawrence Watt-Evans: The Final Folly of Captain Dancy and other Pseudo-Historical Fantasies”

Tim Wakefield, Tony Massarotti : Knuckler, My Life with Baseball’s Most Confounding Pitch

I love the knuckleball. I don’t know how any nerd could not love the knuckleball, or, as I prefer to call it, the “chaos pitch.” It’s thrown — at the velocity of a cheetah, mind you — with almost no rotation. Its path to, and hopefully over, the plate is determined, as much as anythingContinue reading “Tim Wakefield, Tony Massarotti : Knuckler, My Life with Baseball’s Most Confounding Pitch”

Conrad Williams: Use Once, Then Destroy

Williams brings a number of good, and often slightly contradictory, tricks to bear in this collection of 17 stories spanning a dozen years of his career: His prose juxtaposes lyrical, even pastoral imagery with the ugliness of urban decay. The book is full of description like, “There was a moon low in the sky, likeContinue reading “Conrad Williams: Use Once, Then Destroy”

David Foster Wallace: Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

A number of themes recur throughout the stories in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. Grappling with chronic depression is one. The impossibility of ever really knowing what another person thinks is another, along with the tangentially related question of how and why people can treat other people as less than completely human. I frequently foundContinue reading “David Foster Wallace: Brief Interviews with Hideous Men”

Stephen White: Kill Me

I stumbled across Stephen White’s thriller Kill Me when I was looking for something else, and found myself intrigued by the premise, and the many pull quotes asserting that White writes unusually substantive and literary thrillers. A thriller for people who don’t really like thrillers? Could be for me. Kill Me‘s nameless, rich, extreme-sport-loving, narratorContinue reading “Stephen White: Kill Me”

Daniel Waters: Generation Dead

I think the combination of the current young adult publishing climate and the packaging of Generation Dead do Daniel Waters’ novel a disservice. For better or worse, in the wake of Twilight‘s success (not to mention Harry Potter’s, Buffy’s and the more explicit books of Hamilton’s, Harris’s, et al) there’s a lot of supernaturally-themed youngContinue reading “Daniel Waters: Generation Dead”

David Wong: John Dies at the End

If you take its core plot at face-value, John Dies at the End is at least superficially a xenophobic horror story in the Cthulhu mythos mode. Wong gives his Big Nasties different names from Cthulhu and his crowd, but he specifically borrows a key concept from Lovecraft’s “From Beyond” — if you do something specialContinue reading “David Wong: John Dies at the End”

Scott Westerfeld, Leviathan

A week after visiting three bookstores to score a copy of Larbalestier’s Liar on its release day, I was preparing a multi-book store itinerary to buy her husband’s new novel, Leviathan on its first day of sale. I’ve been awaiting this book since at least June of 2006, when Westerfeld first started mentioning an in-progressContinue reading “Scott Westerfeld, Leviathan”

Louise Wener: The Half Life of Stars

The Half Life of Stars is the novel with which I officially stop thinking of Wener as a the former front person of a band I liked who’s now writing books, and start thinking of her as a novelist who used to be in a band I liked. It’s certainly not perfect — two chaptersContinue reading “Louise Wener: The Half Life of Stars”

Louise Wener: The Perfect Play

The Perfect Play is a novel about a young woman coming to terms with her abandonment issues via a quest for her vanished professional gambler dad. Audrey Unger is a mathematical genius, but her penchant for periodic drastic upheavals of her life has left her a chronic underachiever. As the clock seems to be runningContinue reading “Louise Wener: The Perfect Play”