BOOK & BLOG
July 11, 2011
Books of the Week:
From scanning my reading list, you'd think I'd only read books by male writers. That's just the way it shook out this time. I also read a couple of books that didn't qualify for whole-hearted recommendations. And I wasn't sure enough of them to give them a nod, either.
Jason Starr has been recommended to me many times. He's best known for his noir NYC crime novels. The Pack is about the bad, bad downturn in ad man Simon Burns's life. His marriage is troubled, and then he gets abruptly fired from the job he loves. Subsequently, he must undertake the full-time care of son Jeremy. Simon is a lousy househusband, and though he loves Jeremy deeply, being with him for hours on end is not naturally appealing to Simon. Finally, he meets a group of single dads in a park, and these dads all have little sons, too. Simon is happy that Jeremy likes the other little boys, and he enjoys the company of their dads, including the silent and commanding Michael. Then the man who fired Simon is found dead, apparently the victim of a wolf. Well, you could see that one coming, right? But Starr is telling a deeper story: you really can't anticipate what happens in this book.
The Desert of Souls is a fairy tale narrated through the eyes of brave Captain Asim, the head guard of the vizier Jaffar. Jaffar's beautiful and very intelligent niece, Sabirah, her tutor Dabir, and magically propelled birds and monkeys give this adventure an Arabian-nights quality that is really pleasant. If I'm reading the jacket correctly, this is Jones's first full-length novel about the adventures of Dabir and Asim, and it's both suspenseful and charming.
Lots of people I know have stories in Naked City: Jim Butcher, Holly Black, Melissa Marr, Patricia Briggs, Naomi Novik, Peter Beagle. And there are some excellent stories by people I've never read before, which is one of the great features of anthologies. As you can surmise from the title, all the stories Datlow has included are set in cities. My favorite was Melissa Marr's "Guns for the Dead," which contains a lot of food for thought. Holly Black's "Noble Rot" contains food, too, just not the kind you ever wanted to eat; and if you're a baseball fan, you can't miss Jim Butcher's "Curses."
Warm Bodies is the second zombie novel I've read told from the point of view of the zombie. Isaac Marion's novel is certainly the most optimistic zombies-have-swamped-civilization book. It's a zombie-meets-warm girl Rome and Juliet. R is one of the more sentient dead people who live in an abandoned airplane hangar. There's a second sort of zombies, those that have been reduced to bones, and they are controlled by a hive mind. R still looks pretty good, for a dead guy. He and a few of the zombies that retain flesh have formed a friendship; but since they're zombies, every now and then they have to raid the nearby city for food. On one of these expeditions, R kills and eats Julie's boyfriend Perry. Oddly, he retains Perry's memories for a time, and R becomes Julie's defender. In return, she is his savior. Not only do humans oppose their relationship, so do the Bone zombies. The shakeout of this is interesting; you'll enjoy it.
I have to admit I haven't read Hounded, which is the first book in the Iron Druid Chronicles; I'm listening to it, and the experience is delightful. There are two other books in the series already, so you have three to read if you're ready for a big dose of Celtic legends, a happy rascal of a protagonist called Atticus, and a huge Irish wolfhound named Oberon. There are assorted gods and goddesses, magic spells galore, and witches, all in modern Arizona. Very entertaining.
This will be a very short blog, since I'm not thinking about much of anything but the next book these days. I'm trying to get it ready to send in to my editor by the end of this month, and that means I have to concentrate on what's at hand.
But I'll be seeing some of you next weekend at Polaris, the Toronto convention. I'll be staying over an extra day to have a signing at Indigo Books. It's been a long time since I went across the border, and I'm looking forward to it.
The plan was to head from Toronto to San Diego for Comic Con, but the pressure of work tipped the balance in favor of skipping Comic Con this year. I will be San Diego in late October for World Fantasy, though, and the plan is to sign at the new Myterious Galaxy branch which will be opening in Redondo Beach on Oct. 26. Sounds like a great time to me.
© 2011 Charlaine Harris