Here’s a book that won’t make it to the best-seller list, but it could be just the right stocking stuffer for a friend or enemy: Monster Spotter’s Guide to North America. The author, Scott Francis, blogs at MySpace.
Mark Bertrand can make zombie movies sound sophisticated. He blogs, “I felt a little bit like I did that first time I read ‘The Call of Cthulhu’ and realized how much the coolest parts of Close Encounters of the Third Kind were ripped off from Lovecraft.”
Novelist Natalie Danford has written her first novel, a psych-thriller, about secret family histories. In an interview on Nextbook, she talks a little about her own family.
My paternal grandfather created this whole story that he had come over here when he was 12 and that he didn’t speak any English and pulled himself up by his bootstraps. Many years ago, after the Ellis Island records went online, my father idly punched in his own father’s name and it turns out that my grandfather came here when he was three with his entire family. He had come from Austria and the family name was Deutsche. Later he changed our name to Danford. My father asked a relative about it. It turns out in reality that my grandfather was part of a blended family. His mother died when he was an infant. His father, a widower, had remarried and between the two of them they had something like 15 children together.
It’s not the story that was so important as the idea that there was this family member who was not honest about his own past.
On my mother’s side, we always thought that my great-grandfather left Russia because he didn’t want to be conscripted into the Czar’s army, obviously a pretty bad deal if you were Jewish. One of my mother’s cousins did genealogical research in the late 1970s; it turned out that he actually killed somebody and hopped a boat.
Her novel, Inheritance, was released early this year.
Frank Wilson says Out Stealing Horses is well-worth it.
A lesser novel would gather up all the dangling threads of narrative – there are plenty more besides those mentioned – and tie them into a nice neat bow of an ending. Not this one. It is, in fact, Petterson’s refusal to do precisely this that makes his novel so lifelike. After all, life boasts far more loose ends than pat endings.
Kevin Holtsberry discusses the close of Olen Steinhauer’s Eastern European Series with his book, Victory Square. He writes, “I have to admit that the expectations are high for this one as his last book, Liberation Movements, was one of, if not THE, book of the year for me last year. But so far, Olen has never let me down.”
If you check the “View Recent Comments” in the sidebar, then you probably saw that author Jeffery Overstreet replied to my criticism of his opening sentences. That conversation has carried over to the Arts and Faith forum.
Also here’s a bit from the Publishers Weekly review:
Overstreet creates a world with not only its own geography but its own vocabulary—it is haunted by beastmen, home to cloudgrasper trees, vawns (something like dinosaurs) and twister fish. There are Christian bones to the story—particularly in the mystery of the beast called the Keeper, who is “always moving about, but he likes to hide just to see who’ll come seeking”—which may be too obvious to some and not at all clear to others. Overstreet’s writing is precise and beautiful, and the story is masterfully told.
Looks like a good one.
John Cotter reviews Annie Dillard’s novel, The Maytrees in the latest Open Letters Review.
The splash made two summers ago by The Traveler from John Twelve Hawks (JXIIH) is about to return with his next book, The Dark River. From the publicity poster anonymously pasted on a brick wall outside Brandywine Books International Headquarters and Yogurt Emporium:
In a post-9/11 world, The Traveler struck home with its disturbing yet familiar themes of state-sponsored paranoia, the dismantling of individual privacy and the ever-increasing number of personal liberties a society is willing to relinquish in return for a sense of security. Picking up where The Traveler left off, The Dark River follows the Harlequin warrior Maya and her charge, Gabriel Corrigan – one of the fabled and endangered mystics known as Travelers – from New York’s Chinatown to a thousand year old Irish monastery, from the catacombs in Rome to the ruins of WWII bunkers in Berlin, as they race to stop the Tabula from unleashing a powerful weapon of surveillance that will change the balance of power across the globe.
A Publishers Weekly reviewer recommends reading The Traveler before diving in to The Dark River, which I don’t plan to do in order to give this book a chance to stand on its own. Maybe that’s a bad idea.
Raskolnikov is back, and this time he’s not wasting his time philosophizing! In the long awaited sequel to Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, terror strikes the heart of a sleepy Russian town . . . okay, I’m making that up, but there is a sequel to this novel, reviewed today in the Philly Inquirer.
This is curious. Swedish mysteries are popular in English apparently, and now children’s detective books are building momentum.
I think I can see it, but if the book jacket told me I was holding a compelling drama on the garbage in our lives, I’d probably put it down.
“Celtic mythology, Arthurian romance, and an intriguing interpretation of British history” is what’s in store within the new translation of an old Welsh book from the Middle Ages, The Mabinogion. No, I haven’t heard of it either, but it’s bound to have some great material even if it’s a bit hard to read.
Terry Teachout praises Donald Westlake’s comic novels, calling the latest one, What’s So Funny? a stinking funny book. Well, he doesn’t exactly say that it’s stinking funny. He says all of his Dortmunder series books are “incredibly, pulverizingly funny, and the only thing wrong with them is that there aren’t twice as many.”
Author Orson Scott Card calls a thriller he read “evil.”
At the beginning of the book, we are shown a Palestinian during the 1948 war over the creation of the state of Israel. . . . [Steve] Berry sets this scene against a background in which Israelis are systematically driving all the Palestinians out of Israel; the Israelis are heavily armed by the British while the Palestinians have no weapons to counter them; and the Israelis have rounded up whole villages of Palestinians and slaughtered them, men and women alike. . . .
This is the kind of thing that readers — especially ones who don’t know anything about history — are likely to assume the writer has researched, so that it can be trusted. . . . So when a novel like Berry’s The Alexandria Link treats such events as background, as if everybody knew that this is how Israelis act, what it is really doing is furthering the propaganda of one side in a desperate war.