Coupla kids books, a screenplay, some Ian McEwan


009) Heat by Mike Lupica, finished January 22

Big O expressed interest in this book years before he was capable of reading it, but I bought it and stashes it in the closet and we finally got around to giving it to him this Christmas. He read it, thought it was terrific, handed it off to me.

Though I can make complaints about the couple times it pointlessly broke pov etc, I agree: this was a pretty terrific book. The lead character is super likable even though he runs a constant risk of turning Mary Sue (I mean: greatest pitcher, greatest center fielder, greatest catcher, greatest batter). The crisis he and his brother are thrown into it instantly gripping, and that's channeled into the baseball story and baby we're off.

I also liked it's metareferences to film and happy endings in the closing chapters because the story definitely heads that direction---though props to Lupica for finding a better ending spot than the Little League World Series. Heroes win, villains lose, friends remain true, beautiful girls share sexless 12-year-old crushes, miracles happen. Baseball, fathers and sons, hope, forgiveness. It's an epic at 240 largeprint pages.
six days


008) Happy Birthday, Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel, finished January 21

Best use of second person ever! Combining heavy illustrations (parts of the book certainly count as comics) with a friendly forbearance of voice combine to an approachable narrator and a close identification with the surly (but recognizable) protagonist. Fun book to read to small kids (but not so small that they can't stick with you for over a hundred [very speedy] pages).


007) Impasse by Kohl Glass (story by Jason Conforto), finished January 16

Shot right, this has potential to be a killer (and supercheap) little indie film. Think Lifeboat. Underground.


006) Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan, finished January 16

At this near remove, I'm not sure if I like this book more than I am annoyed by it, or vice versa. Let's start with the annoyances, shall we?

Page 82: "In a sense, this was when the story began. . . ."

This is so so true. I almost I almost put this book down and wrote it up as unfinished many times. SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO BOOOOOORING. Nothing nothing nothing then more nothing. And this a spy novel!

Anyway, I stuck with it and the story began. McEwan is as good with sex and relationships as ever but we'll get to that later.

Next annoying thing: the final 28 pages. In which the curtain is pulled back and we see the entire thing's just been an elaborate metafictional setup (#spoileralert). What? Are you playing games with me, McEwan?

But here's where we'll start seguing to what I like, because I pass through anger to grudging acceptance to pleasure over the course of those 28 pages. I'm still pissed off to have been played, but it was all to such nice ends! 'Tis no mistake the word "sweet" is in the title.

I also love how this spy novel is actually about literature and, specifically, a moment in literature---one I don't know well---1970s England. And it's drawn so lovingly and perfectly. It's an attractive time to show up.

So cut the beginning. Seriously reconsider the ending. I don't know what I think about it. Not as good as my favorite McEwan novels, but no slouch of a novel either.

In the end? I dunno.

Other McEwan novels:

On Chesil Beach
The Black Dogs
three or four or more weeks

Previously in 2014 . . . . :

Books 1 - 5
005) The Man Who Grew His Beard by Olivier Schrauwen, finished January 12
004) Pokémon Black and White, Vol. 1 by Hidenori Kusaka and Satoshi Yamamoto, finished January 10
003) Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hick, finished January 7
002) The Drop by Michael Connelly, finished January 7
001) The Rejection Collection, Vol. 2 edited by Matthew Diffee, finished January 6

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