Thumbnail reviews of books I've read so far this summer. I may be forgetting some. It's been a hot few months.
The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. I was captivated by this at first. Charmed, you could say. The Night Circus is adorable, whimsical, fanciful, fun. Three-quarters of the way through I wanted something a bit more than whimsy, but still enjoyed the book overall--except for the ending. I don't mean the epilogue, but the last sentence which (and this is not a spoiler) circles back to the first sentence. As a teen, I read a book that ended in the same way and back then I was like WHOA. Now, not so much. Still recommended for its incredible imagination and confidence, however.
American Busboy, by Matthew Guenette. This is a collection of mostly narrative poems about working in a clam shack over the summer as a, you guessed it, busboy. A smart and funny book. Sample: "The moon/& a busboy, the beach/& a waitress, and later/maybe karaoke." Ah, youth. There are a few non-narrative gems sprinkled throughout (like freshly ground pepper!). I lol'd. Recommended.
Damned, by Chuck Palahniuk. I'm a huge Chuck fan. I've even taught him in American Lit survey classes (both Fight Club and Survivor) because he's gonna stick. That's why I was disappointed in this one. It was reminiscent of bizarro fiction which, while interesting, isn't quite the level of sophistication I expect from one of the sharpest critics of American culture. If you want true bizarro, check out the Ass Goblins of Auschwitz.
The Choiring of the Trees, by Donald Harington. Another book in the continuing saga of Stay More, Ark, this one doesn't have as much magical realism (and magic) as the others, but there's a compelling love story at its core. I lost steam at some point, but pushed on through and was rewarded at the end. If you're interested in Harington--America's "undiscovered continent"-- check out The Architecture of the Arkansas Ozarks first. This one is definitely for the already converted.
Three Cubic Feet, by Lania Knight. Full disclosure: I read this because it was sent to the Toad Suck Review as an ARC (my wonderful husband edits the journal) and it was sitting on the coffee table. Guess what? I liked it! A YA novella narrated by Theo, a young gay man falling in love and figuring sex and everything else out. Knight has made such a believable teen--Theo can be self-centered and stupid and he turns away from those trying to help him, but you love him and root for him regardless because that's what a sensitive teen is like. Lord knows I was worse. Drama galore, well-rounded characters, beautiful sentences to boot.
Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn. LOVED IT! Enough good stuff has been said about this book and author and I second everything. A suspenseful, compelling, gross-at-times, heart-wrenching, page-turner. The ending felt a bit rushed, but who cares? I'm still basking in the afterglow of having just finished it. Can't wait to read the other two. New favorite author--why did it take me so long?
Currently on my nightstand; The Witches of Eastwick, Babel-17, and The Vanishers.
Anyone have recommendations?