A Short Story Omnibus: Raymond Chandler and Samantha Henderson

The detective arrives in a small seaside California town looking for a missing girl.  Her mother is very concerned.  Concerned enough to hire him.  He is soon over his head; caught in a crime syndicate that includes the beat cops, the local police chief, a psychiatric hospital, an offshore gambling boat, and a pair of bank robbers. Chandler country in other words. I kept thinking of … Continue reading A Short Story Omnibus: Raymond Chandler and Samantha Henderson

Tao Lin vs. Kelly Link — Tournament of Short Stories II

For this the first battle in round one of my second tournament of short stories I read three from Bed by Tao Lin and three from Get in Trouble by Kelly Link.  While I knew Kelly Link going into this from stories featured on Podcastle, I picked Tao Lin off of the shelves at Skylight Books in Los Angeles at random.  I liked the cover art; I confess. I enjoyed … Continue reading Tao Lin vs. Kelly Link — Tournament of Short Stories II

Wool by Hugh Howey

Do you prefer the world building or the plot? For example, when you saw the first Ghostbusters movie, was your favorite part the initial half or the final half?  In the first half we met the characters, followed them through an ordinary day of ghost hunting/library going–basically learned the ground rules of this world.  In the second half the plot takes over and we get all the … Continue reading Wool by Hugh Howey

Nazi literature in the Americas by Roberto Bolano, translated by Chris Andrews

Roberto Bolano’s Nazi Literature in the Americas is an encyclopedic look at a fictional literary movement.  Novelists, poets, short story writers, magazine editors and publishers are all given detailed entries covering their lives and work.  Minor figures and publications are listed in the appendices at the back.  Even the least significant fictional fascist author is included, lovingly, even reverently described. Is Mr. Bolano playing a … Continue reading Nazi literature in the Americas by Roberto Bolano, translated by Chris Andrews

Raymond Carver vs. Ursula K. Le Guin

The port chops had thawed, too. Everything had thawed, including some more fist sticks, a package of steak-ums, and two Chef Sammy Chinese food dinners.  The hot dogs and homemade spaghetti sauce had thawed.  She closed the door to the freezer and reached into the fridge for her carton of yoghurt.  She raised the lid of the yoghurt and sniffed.  That’s when the yelled at … Continue reading Raymond Carver vs. Ursula K. Le Guin

The Visitor by Sheri S. Tepper

For much of the novel, The Visitor by Sheri S. Tepper worked for me.  I was with her about two-thirds of the way. I think I keep reading fantasy novels because I hope they will be like The Hobbit or The Last Unicorn, two favorites from my very early years.  The first part of Sheri S. Tepper’s The Visitor had what I liked about those two–a tight focus on a … Continue reading The Visitor by Sheri S. Tepper

The Mystery of the Black Tower by John Palmer

The Mystery of the Black Tower by John Palmer was first published through subscription in 1796.  The Gothic Classics edition published in 2005 by Valancourt Books features a complete list of all the original subscribers–an unusual legacy to leave posterity.  In the early days of the novel, before anyone was quite sure what a novel was, publishing by subscription was common place.  An author with … Continue reading The Mystery of the Black Tower by John Palmer

Earthsea vs. The Apocalypse

The deck really was stacked against Desirina Boskovich.  Though her short stories Heaven is a Place on Planet X and To Wrestle Not Against Flesh and Blood are both terrific fun, there’s really no way she could win against an Earthsea story by Ursula K. LeGuin.  Not while I am the judge. I’ve been pairing sets of short stories against each other in a tournament of books … Continue reading Earthsea vs. The Apocalypse

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

This is not a book I would like. It’s one of those children’s books that really appeal more to adult readers. It’s a message book.  The plot is set up to drive home a message in the way adults sometimes think children’s books need to have messages. It’s a the kind of book that’s meant to be good for children facing certain problems, as though … Continue reading A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Alice by Christina Henry

Sometimes knowing the source material well is a big help.  Sometimes, not so much. I have read Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland more times than anyone you know.  I used to use it with my seventh graders when I taught a GATE class, back when such things existed in California, so I read the book twice a year for several years.  I’ve probably read it … Continue reading Alice by Christina Henry

The Lifted Veil by George Eliot

I’m afraid this one works as a curiosity but not much more. According to the end notes, The Lifted Veil, written just after her first novel, Adam Bede, is Ms. Eliot’s only first person narrative and her only book to deal with supernatural elements.  It’s probably for the best that she gave both up as soon as possible. The Lifted Veil is an entertaining story, overall, about a man … Continue reading The Lifted Veil by George Eliot

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly was a recipient of the 2007 Alex Award given to adult books that appeal to young adult readers ages 12-18, but I’m not so sure. The story concerns David, age twelve, who is unhappy with his new step-mother and his new home outside London where his parents hope he’ll be safe from the ravages of World War … Continue reading The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly