056) Angel Catbird (vol. one) by Margaret Atwood, et al., finished April 21
Look: Margaret Atwood is a great writer. She can be amazing, but she can also be ... less. This is less.two days
I'm glad she's getting to finish up her childhood by writing pulpy comics stories. And maybe the bad Silver Age dialogue and plotting are intentional. Certainly the dumb names are intentional. Angel Catbird I can almost believe someone thought was cool, but Count Catula can't really be seen as anything but an intentionally bad joke.
All that said, in theory, this book could still be a good time. A lark. A fun ride.
But it's not. It just doesn't ... fly.
And the occasional education breaks to teach us about cat safety don't help.
055) The Dinner Club by Curtis Taylor, finished April 21
Let me preface my remarks that this is the second novel by the author of The Invisible Saint, one of the most important books in my personal development as a writer. And that this book is enormously flawed, burying its potential under tons of dross that should have been edited out.started on a Sunday probably three weeks ago
I intend to write a longer look at the novel after I read Rolling Home which, I take it, is a novella-sized rewrite of Dinner Club.
Or possibly it's still well over three hundred pages. (The Amazon page is giving mixed messages.) But it has a new title and I can get it for free on my Kindle, so I'll at least check it out. I hope it's an improvement because there's an excellent book at the bottom of The Dinner Club and it kills me to see it drowned and sunk, bloated and dead.
054) The Hotel Cat by Esther Averill, finished April 17
This novel was very important to me in second grade, but the last time I read it aloud, when my oldest son was in second grade, my now second-grader wasn't two. So we read it together. It suffered the indignity of many interruptions, but we enjoyed the experience. It's a magical book (and, I only recently learned, part of a rather extensive series), but it's hard to know, now, if it's anything special---or merely special to me.months
But I'll keep reading it as long as there are second graders to share it with.
053) A Field Guide to Awkward Silences by Alexandra Petri, finished April 9
the author's newspaper work (she's, like, the millenial Dave Barry). And so I'm sorry to say that much of the book stutters where her columns often sing. Or, perhaps more fairly, being bound in hardcover,almost twenty months
is sometimes overworked (and thus finds difficulty being light on its feet) and sometimes I probably held to an unfairly higher standard.
On the other hand, some of these essays are excellent. Let's take the penultimate essay which combines a disformed dog and the author's bad driving. Each half of the essay behaves like a longwinded tangent of the other, but they interweave like a complicated dance in
a high-budgeted Austen flick on the BBC. Sometimes, you might forget they're partners, but they keep touching hands in passing and the conclusion of the dance brings them together in satisfying fashion.
Some of the others I enjoyed more as sociology---learning about competitive punning, for instance. A better editor would have realized that this isn't a celebrity memoir but a collection of tightly constructed humor. Some of those would have made terrific magazine articles, but here they're struggling against the collection's better instincts and trying to turn it into the moving tale of a young woman stumbling into recognition of her adulthood. A noble enough goal, I suppose, and in general I've nothing against making a collection of disparate essays thematically whole. But trust your material.
Let's keep an eye on her, shall we?
Previously in 2017