Monday, October 31, 2011

My Book Reviews on Goodreads

I love me some books and occasionally I decide to share this love with the world via Goodreads.
I'm pasting links below, should you be inclined to check out these short takes.

Clearcut by Nina Shengold

While it has some blazing, appetite-whetting erotic passages featuring fornication, landscape and even snails (really) this isn't a "book about sex." It's a love story daring to present ardor in the compelling guise of the mysterious, unreasonable, many-headed hydra that pulls from the unlikeliest of people (that's you, dear reader) the courage to cross boundaries, consequences be damned. All for love, presented as a pricey one-two punch of both carnal and soul fulfillment. (Makes you remember that Cupid is armed with A WEAPON.) For more click HERE

World Made By Hand by James Howard Kunstler

Of the three post-Apocalyptic tales I've read - The Stand, The Road and this one - this is my favorite, and not just because it's set in a region near where I happen to live (Upstate NY). It's not as dire as the other two (not necessarily a good thing) but I found it more thought-provoking. What if we had no more oil, LA and DC were nuked, and subsequent plagues knocked out a significant portion of the population? The short answer is no one knows. The pessimist says "We're all five meals away from murder" (bring on the cannibals in The Road) while the optimist sees us reverting to farming, fishing, carpentry, masonry and serfdom. Those who don't go insane carry on in various ways. The industrious survive - sometimes thrive - through community, agriculture, acoustic music, a little corn liquor and half-hearted religion. Some thrive through despotism, but luckily they live down the road apiece and they scavenge and sell useful junk. For more click HERE

The Second Coming by Walker Percy

Prior to this book, I'd known Percy mainly as the Southern Literary Lion, author of The Moviegoer (which I've not yet read) and discoverer of John Kennedy Toole after Toole's bereaved mother insisted he read a barely-legible carbon of A Confederacy of Dunces which I adore. For that alone Percy was pre-loved in my heart.

I picked this book up in the doctor's office, while waiting to be seen about some excruciating pain that turned out not to be caused by something serious and which subsequently went away. The experience of physical pain calibrates the brain in such a way that things are apprehended differently, I think. Perhaps that's why the prose went so deep, deeper than it might have otherwise. I don't know. I went straight to my library (with a Vicodin prescription) and got the book. For more click HERE

The Unexpected Salami by Laurie Gwen Shapiro

Perhaps you DO want to see how the salami is made. Like that proverbial meat product, into which many ingredients – spicy, savory and sweet – are compressed, then sheathed into a tight, tasty morsel, this rock and roll novel is a satisfying – and at times guilty-pleasure – feast. Shapiro takes up the gauntlet of several pop fantasies at once: How far will a desperate, aging band go to get noticed? What if a forgotten punk rocker was a Zen oracle? Would my parents still love me if I brought a junkie home for dinner (and residency)? What if I sat on the trial of the decade? And finally, just what will it take to bring me out of the strobe-lit racket of hip cultural reference points and have a moment of clarity, in which I finally see myself and my place in the firmament? For more click HERE

The World Made Straight by Ron Rash

When we were teens in Atlanta, my brother was a wayward hellraiser with a head full of ideas. Even though we were modern kids, the shadows of the Civil War still touched us in various enigmatic ways. He and I agree that very few artists have captured that essence, but he said Ron Rash nailed some of it in The World Made Straight. He also said Rash created a character that reminded him of his teen self. So I was eager to check it out. My brother sent it to me.

It's a lovely, unusual book, told in a concise, elegant double narrative that evokes the blacktop, hollers, streams and towns of North Carolina (where my brother now lives) and the distinctive ghost-riddled atmosphere of the haunted hills where America's bloodiest conflict took place. The timelessness of the wild and the hum of the new create a peculiar rhythm and Rash catches it. For more click HERE

Donorboy by Brendan Halpin

The set-up is tantalizing: 14 year old Rosalind's lesbian moms die in a freak accident. The moms have left no will so trainwreck Ros is taken in by her birth father/sperm donor/total stranger Sean. Sean's life is in a rut and he admits (eventually) that he has bitten off more than he can chew. But he can't bring himself to give Ros over to her moms' overwrought best friend Karen, who is not happy AT ALL.

How to tackle the swirling, unpredictable mess that is the grief of a teenage orphan AND the anxiety of a single thirty-something lawyer thrust into parenting? How to wrassle the rage, remorse, mistakes, missteps, revelations of personal weakness and the scary side of opening one's self up to love and loss? For more click HERE

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