Chelsea Handler: Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea; My Horizontal Life

I enjoyed these books more when I stopped thinking of them as literal, factual memoirs, and more as fiction in the uncomfortable-funny vein of Michael Scott or David Brent. Handler’s character is less a poster-girl for bad decision-making (although there’s some of that for sure) than a celebration of unchecked id. I suspect for muchContinue reading “Chelsea Handler: Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea; My Horizontal Life”

Eric Puchner: Music Through the Floor

I usually prefer not to read a single-author short story collection straight through, but to intersperse it with other reading. Even with very good authors, I find that reading too many short stories back-to-back emphasizes repeating themes and devices. I find it often blunts the impact of individual stories. Puchner’s Music Through the Floor isContinue reading “Eric Puchner: Music Through the Floor”

Liz Jensen: My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time

Harlot Charlotte finds herself catapulted from late 19th-century Denmark to 21st-century England in Liz Jensen’s odd fantasy. Charlotte is a mildly unreliable narrator somewhat given to giddiness and entirely given to elaborately structured sentences: When Franz finally departed for a place he referred to mysteriously a the Halfway Club, I resolved to confront Professor KrakContinue reading “Liz Jensen: My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time”

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”

Charlie Huston: The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death

I didn’t read any of the jacket copy before starting The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death, so all I knew about it to start was second-hand information that it had received a lukewarm response from Huston’s fans. And admittedly it was the first of the Huston novels I’ve read that didn’t snagContinue reading “Charlie Huston: The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death”

Steven Johnson: Mind Wide Open

Steven Johnson opens his whirlwind tour of modern brain science asserting his intent to deliver a “long-decay” idea in each chapter: the sort of thought that will resonate with you after you finish the book, even possibly altering your behavior. And he delivers at least a few that stick for me. I learned things aboutContinue reading “Steven Johnson: Mind Wide Open”

Linda Berdoll: Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife

In case anyone wonders, here are the limits of my obsession with Jane Austen’s fiction, and my morbid curiosity about the recent swell of Austen-related publishing. Even though I know Austen herself would disapprove, I’m not intrinsically opposed to a novel depicting Austen’s characters in physical intimacies which her social mores, upbringing, and (most probably)Continue reading “Linda Berdoll: Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife”

Charles Stross: Missile Gap

Good golly, I love libraries. I was delighted to have a chance to read Stross’s Missile Gap, a novella published in a small print run without coughing up its hefty price tag. I enjoyed Missle Gap, but truth to tell, if I’d paid the asking price, I would have been kinda bummed. Missile Gap sharesContinue reading “Charles Stross: Missile Gap”

Justine Larbalestier: Magic’s Child

My expectations for Magic’s Child were very high, and they weren’t quite met. The first novel in the series, Magic or Madness, introduced a remarkably fresh conception of magic in the modern-day world, (as well as exploring the author’s own experiences with transcontinental transitions in a fantastic context). The sequel Magic Lessons deepened and extendedContinue reading “Justine Larbalestier: Magic’s Child”

Justine Larbalestier: Magic Lessons

I think it would probably occur to me to compare and contrast the first two volumes of Larbalestier’s “Magic or Madness” trilogy with the first two books of Scott Westerfeld’s “Midnighters” trilogy even if I didn’t know the two authors were partners. Many novels feature teenage protagonists simultaneously blessed and cursed with special powers, butContinue reading “Justine Larbalestier: Magic Lessons”