PEIRENE PRESS — Turning Point Series

Peirene Press’ “Turning Point” series made its way to my shelves, and I delved into the books, reading them almost one after the other. These three novellas approach craft in their own peculiar ways; that is: In an as unconventional a manner as possible. Each novella is a successful exercise in style and tone and voice and storytelling. Mussel has that breathless and urgent stream-of-consciousness, Darwin was admirably adept at picking out individual voices one moment and pushing forward the collective the next, and Chasing was just exemplary in temperance sharpening scenes into a fine point. [Continue reading.]

PUTNEY - The Rake

For the TL;DR crowd: The Rake is a powerful and compelling exploration of a hero’s fatal flaw; the brandy-swilling hero narratively pushed to an addiction. Read it for that. And if you like long discussions of how to run an estate, idk. The romance is secondary to Reggie’s development as a character and his struggle with his alcoholism, which I understand and I respect and am actually quite thankful for—but, unfortunately, it’s a distant second within the narrative. A little more effort could have been put in to make Alys seem to me as compelling? A little more angst and love and passion? A little more conversation that didn’t involve sheep? [Continue reading.]

ex01 — January Books Read

The above books make up the wee dent I’ve managed to inflict onto my To-Be-Read landmass. Frankly, January was not as enriching a bibliophilic experience as I would have liked—the first books read in the year put up a struggle or bored me to tears. Some books were just myeh, their biggest offense was that they existed for me only to help me pass the time. But, of course, thankfully, there were highlights. [Continue reading.]

January 2014 books bought from various sales of ruination

These are the books I bought this January, and all but two were from a series of Fully Booked sales. That’s thirty-five books bought in the first month of 2014—I bought more books than there are days in the year thus far. A few certainties: Having rearranged my shelves during the holidays, I’ve had absolutely no room in my shelves left for books since the holidays; there will be no eating right for the next two weeks; I am exploring the possibility of maiming someone just so I can have world enough and time for these books; I am so, so very happy; Batman definitely does not approve. But let me explain. [Continue reading.]

FFORDE - The Eyre Affair

There ought to be a term for the bookish adultery that compels you to actively search for echoes—or even reiterations—of books you’ve loved for the longest time. Then again, the brand of fidelity attached to this venture is a curious, if twisted, thing, too—you welcome things that remind you of the original, which would always, always have its fist wrapped around your fervently beating-for-it heart. I am talking about Jane Eyre. In this instance. [Continue reading.]

MILLER - Batman Year One

The introduction Batman: Year One phrases it nicely: That if Frank Miller had rightly immortalized Batman’s Omega in The Dark Knight Returns, it only makes the most perfect sense that he could do the same with Batman’s Alpha. Year One is a refinement of Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s original Batman origin story—adding nuance where it called for it, adding grit, doing away with the slick camp of the late 1930s style, imbuing both alter egos with more gravitas. A gravitas that seems to have set the tone for all the Batman comics that would follow—fortunately for my angst-hungry heart. And. It’s the story of Bruce Wayne. [Continue reading.]

LAWRENCE - Lady Chatterley's Lover

Of course I would love Lady Chatterley’s Lover, of course, of course, of course. I will always be partial to restless women—restless for one reason or another—and Lady Constance Chatterley belongs now to that specific pantheon in my head, with the likes of Emma Bovary, of April Wheeler. Women who desire, women who want something and want for something—these are the people my bibliophilic heart beats heaviest for. (And, hah, not to mention their illicit loves and the series of delightfully cathartic poor judgment calls and the convoluted ways they try to make themselves happy.) [Continue reading.]

GREY — The Juliette Society

But Sasha Grey absolutely did not write an erotic romance in The Juliette Society; it’s more dangerous, for one, and follows more faithfully the tradition of erotica. That is: Grey’s book isn’t a romance with graphic sex scenes, which usually [tediously] involved forays into a poorly conceived BDSM culture. Sasha Grey isn’t a hanger-on of James’ [utterly frustrating] success—I am arguing that Sasha Grey, with The Juliette Society, was writing under the house of Anaïs Nin, even of Pauline Réage. [Continue reading.]

ex01 _ The Batman Shelf

I don’t take lightly the whole “Books That Changed Your Life” tag, y’all—but The Dark Knight Returns changed my fucking life. This book caused the very landscape of my reading to change—the bowing bookshelves that hold my growing collection [!] of comic books can attest to that. TDKR barreled its way through a barricade I had unintentionally built around a whole genre of literature, gave me new great things to fall in love with, and has since ensured that I will spend my last days at the poorhouse. Vengeance! Justice! Human decency! Badass machinery! Angst parties! Story lines that do not condescend, that bring everything good about the novel into a glossy book-as-object! The artistry that goes into each page, how threaded with thought these books are! And, as I’ve been saying for months now: Nothing fucking beats an aging Batman in a rearing stallion! [Continue reading.]

DOYLE — The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes

Arthur Conan Doyle, in his preface to The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes: “I fear that Mr. Sherlock Holmes may become like one of those popular tenors who, having outlived their time, are still tempted to make repeated farewell bows to their indulgent audiences. This must cease and he must go the way of all flesh, material or imaginary.” The insistence: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson would go, as would their stories, and would remain gone. And now: I have read all of the canon. That is: There are no more Sherlock Holmes stories for me to read, for the first time. [Continue reading.]