Sunday, July 24, 2011

I know I say this all the time, but these are some good books

The Great Night: A Novel
New-to-me author (and how I do love good new-to-me authors) Chris Adrian's latest, The Great Night, went around tickling my brain's funny-bone through every chapter. It's a retelling of A Midsummer Night's Dream, which I listened to a couple of months ago, set in Buena Vista Park in San Francisco. Three would-be-party-going mortals are trapped in the park along with Titania and her crew, a rampaging Puck, and a group of homeless people-cum-theatre troupe with a beef against the mayor. There's romping and running, magic and menace, and a lot of the aftermath of heartbreak. Adrian is very playful, although the core of the story is sad and lonely - the dichotomy can be disconcerting. But I have faith that, somewhere beyond the pages, Jordan Sasscock will move his party into the park and restore a missing balance to a lot of lives, faerie and otherwise.

Beauty QueensMy first Libba Bray encounter (A Great and Terrible Beauty) was enough to put her on my "read everything she's ever written, STAT" list, which leaves me terribly impatient now that I'm done with the catalogue and have to wait for new titles. Fortunately, my hunger has been slightly slaked thanks to Beauty Queens, her excellent tale of a bunch of pageant teens who crash on a deserted island only to discover darkness afoot. They also discover some personal depths to accompany their skin-deep beauty; even the seemingly-tritest revealing to themselves and each other that they're good for a lot more than walking well in sparkly dresses. Bray throws in reality-show pirates, eco-warriors, corporate/government hybrid manipulations, and some funky flora and fauna to keep the beauty queens on their toes, even though their high heels were lost in the plane crash. I listened to the audio, read by the author, which was a huge treat.

Started Early, Took My Dog: A NovelStarted Early, Took My Dog is Kate Atkinson's fourth Jackson Brodie novel - the private investigator just can't seem to settle down into a nice, quite retired life. He is, as always, drawn into the past of a missing girl, and it is his dogged determination to see things through as much as any investigative skill or luck that sees him through the twists and turns ahead. I enjoy the long, slow arc of Jackson realizing a bit about himself as well as Atkinson's clever references, smashing details, and evocative literary tour through England. She is another author I've followed faithfully for years, and although her Brodie books are a departure from the rest, everything she publishes is entertaining and worthwhile.

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