2nd Five Books of 2009


Teen Titans Year One 010) Teen Titans: Year One by Amy Wolfram et al, finished March 7
    Lightweight stuff. Definitely aimed at younger teenagers. That's probably all you need to know.

    like twenty minutes

009) The Complete Calvin and Hobbes, Book One by Bill Watterson, finished March 6

Calvin and Hobbes
    This book's hugeness (over seven pounds) is one reason it took me so much longer to read than the old paperbacks used to. But Saturday, I sat in my bed to read and was joined by Big O and we finished the book together and, granted, though he's the same age as Calvin, he didn't get a lot of the jokes, but the visuals could slay him.

    What this teaches me is that NO WAY am I getting rid of my old paperbacks as originally planned. Instead, they need to come out of the garage and go on the kids' shelves where they can look at them like I used to.

    I discovered Calvin in 1987 when my family moved to California and started getting the paper, and I lived for the strip till it ended.

    Time to share with the kids.

    (And to keep the nice new hardbacks safely with the grownup books.)

    My Fob Comics review which is not, this time, identical.

    about three months

Thomas Lynch's fiction 008) Apparition & Late Fictions: A Novella and Stories by Thomas Lynch, finished March 5
    full disclosure: i received this title as an advance reading copy from the publisher

    "Catch & Release"

      I am becoming increasingly aware of the genre of fiction well exemplified by this story, viz. Person mourning death of loved one engages in physical activity interspersed with flashbacks. The best one I've read was "Clothing Esther." The oddest was Connie Willis's "Daisy, in the Sun" which is really about the protag mourning for herself and all earth life. So.

      Anyway, C&R is as good an example I've seen. Man mourning his father while fishing, till the end which was unprecedened and unexplainable. As if Lynch couldn't come up with a good ending so just went with something shocking. Pitty.


      Pointless violence from a mortician's p-o-v with a hint of sex and introspection. Just what one might hope for in a bit of Lynch fiction.

    "Hunter Moon"

      These are getting . . . samer. Lynch is clearly an old man, looking back at life, having spent the entire time in the casket business. And while any of these stories would be a happy addition to any literary journal, all pushed together like this, their sameness is tiring. I would love to have seen what fiction a young and lusty Lynch would have written. At this point in this collection, however, I am getting tired. This is a good story. It's just too much like others I have read.

    "Matinée de Septembre"

      More of the same, but this time from a female character's p-o-v. Sex, death and introspection. Another offputting ending, but otherwise, probably the best in the book so far.


      This novella is a beautiful work of art and I am so glad to have read it.

      A digression:

      Reading The Undertaking as a young married man introduced me to two concepts that had been lacking in my previous life experience. Death and divorce. The previous stories in this collection primarily concerned themselves with the latter. This one is about divorce.

      Adrian is a pastor whose wife leaves him. Their divorce inspires him to write a book about divorce, the success of which creates for him a new life.

      We see Adrian as he lives through the pain of separation and his gradual recreation into a new person. We see him live with his children's pain.

      The story is peopled with new characters. The foul-mouthed Catholic priest, for instance. And it offers a bright and --- to me, at least --- original take on human sexuality. It is bawdy and spiritual and strikingly original --- profane a a pagan brand of holy.

      Loved it.

    couple months

007) Stone Rabbit #1: BC Mambo by Erik Craddock, finished March 2

007) The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet by Reif Larsen, finished February 23
    Here is an example of a blurb selling a book. I picked it up at the library. Looked interested. Flipping through it made me pretty interested. But it's an awkward size and had a 75% chance of being precious, a 75% chance of being pretentious and a 68% chance of being both.

    How to read this book

    But the quote from never-precious-or-pretentious Stephen King made me reconsider and I checked it out and brought it home and I am ohsoglad I did.

    T.S. Spivet is the next in a long line of literary wunderkinds. He is a budding cartographer. Although, as we quickly learn, he has more than budded.

    The book's wide margins are filled with TS's illustrations and maps. The illustrations/marginalia work with the main text in a way I've never quite seen before and which I am loath to describe. It would be better for you to simply check it out for yourself.

    And while this book is not being marketed to kids, has complex diction and syntax, and has one particularly foul-mouthed character, I'm planning on buying a copy for my shelves simply so my kids can discover it someday.

    One thing about the marketing of this book: what's up with the website? It's pretty and all, but too fancy (read:slow) for your average browser. The info on the Amazon page is much more accessible and therefore interesting. Pity.

    Plus, the author's not easy to run down. All authors should have an easily discovered online abode. I was going to write Mr Larsen a gushing letter, but, well, where is he?

    But those complaints are unrelated to the book.

    More than half way in, suddenly a fantastic element is introduced into the book and incredibly it does not ruin the book. Normally, you can't pull that prank. And this book breaks all sorts of seeming rules with aplomb (like the no-endless-tangents rule, the no-book-within-a-book rule, the freakin' no-child-prodigies rule).

    This book is Something New.

    Celebrate it.

    You must read the first twenty pages of this book. If you can stop at that point, God help you.

    forty-some days

Previously in 2010 . . . . :

First Five


  1. Love Calvin and Hobbes. I need to track some books to rekindle the flame.

    And the only Thomas Lynch piece I've read is his anthologized essay, "Bodies at Motion and at Rest." Likes it, but don't know if I'll ever get to any of his other work.

  2. .

    He's a poet first, so that would be the place for you to start.

  3. I finally read The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet, which I requested from the library because of your review. It *is* a bit precious, and I was worried about the ending, but the departure it takes *SEMI-SPOILER*
    in to speculative fiction worked and saved it from being too precociously in love with itself and so did the re-emergence of both parents and the realization that T.S. has parts of both of them in him.

  4. .

    Yes. Books that risk moving to the edge of failure earn my respect. Books that take that risk then spectacularly win the day earn my love.