095) Deeper Thoughts by Jack Handey, finished on September 23
The book is good. But, you know, so is YouTube.
not long at all
096) Lightfall: The Girl & the Galdurian by Tim Probert, finished on September 23
The girl is a nervous homebody battling an intense anxiety (with one of the best visual representations I've ever seen); the Galdurian is an honestly optimistic force of simple happiness, an adventurer brave and intelligent—experienced without losing his innocence.
Anyway, adventure (in the form of a wandered-off grandfather with a suddenly mysterious past) arrives for the girl and she and the Galdurian take off together.
Meanwhile, Skeksis-like creatures are awakening from their mythic slumber. The exposition is subtle and riveting and by the end of this book we have a pretty good sense of the worries that lie ahead of us. I didn't intend to read book one of a new series but darn it I did. And you know what? It was good. I hope Kid A remember to check out #2 next spring.
097) Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O'Connell, finished on September 28
I can see why this book has garnered lots of accolades. It's crafted well. It does interesting things with it's one-color scheme. It celebrates a totally normal queerness. I think this latter detail is why the book is set in Berkeley. (Neither the writer nor the illustrator are from Berkeley and it shows.)
Like a lot of YA fiction, it seems to be anxious to check as many topical boxes as possible and, like a lot of YA fiction, it overrelies on some storytelling techniques to make sure readers don't miss certain points. It sorta bums me out because I think that readers (even YA readers who, frankly, are good readers) can get the points without the flashing arrows. That said, I suppose the book's intention is to model queer storytelling. So judging it by the standards of First! I suppose it's illuminated paths that readers might otherwise not see.
So I'm not saying anything about it was wrong, just it's aimed at a different audience. Which, when you think about it, is pretty obvious.
under an hour
098) My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones, finished on September 29
It's been a while since I read (mostly) Jones's first novel, which I picked up when it was still quite new and thoroughly remaindered. I feel like I remember wondering, when I called it quits, if he had written other works since then. The answer was yes. About a dozen, and another since. Good for him.
I can't speak to all the books between and his first, but I can still see the same hand at work. Even thought that first book was a mindthrottling work of magic realism in the Southwest Indian vein and this one is a slasher that doesn't reveal any supernatural cards until a brief moment near the end. This is a slasher that is also a metaslasher, ala Scream, in that characters in the book see the genre they are inhabiting and navigating the terrain by that knowledge.
I don't know if anyone's made a list of all the movies that are cited by name during the course of this novel, but it would be a long list. Jones could clearly put together a top-100 slasher-movies poster and still have to leave things off.
Stephen King said (either in Danse Macabre or On Writing) that while scary is scarier when you don't see the monster, it's cowardice not to show it anyway. While the attempt to increase the scare may usually fail, it's a chance that's necessary to take for the greatest scares. And Jones takes many such chances in the novels final couple hundred pages. And his hit rate would do any Major Leaguer proud.
This is not Jones's first novel to follow the slasher formula which I (and probably you) associate most completely with the movies. I haven't seen many movies that qualify as slashers (off the top of my head, the only two I remember being mentioned in the book are Psycho and Jaws, both of which I love and both of which demand qualifications). Fun story, once upon a time, I had a dream that I was in a slasher film but every time it was about to descend into blood and death, it couldn't. Over the course of the dream, I realized that because I had never seen Michael or Jason or Freddy at work, my dreamscape could not do away with me after their manner. Haha, monsters!
Anyway, Jones has written at least four novels he considers slashers, and most of his output is horror of one type or another.
Another personal aside, the story takes place in an Idaho town next to the Caribou–Targhee National Forest. I spent the first decade of my life in an Idaho town next to the Caribou–Targhee National Forest. It's next to a dam and reservoir. So's my hometown, though not quite so closely. Thanks to one paragraph on page 252, I learned it was in Fremont County. I don't think I've ever visited Fremont County and Jones isn't from Idaho either. A spot of googling and I decided that any more attempts to make the setting match reality would be no bueno.
Another thing I find interesting about this book is that while it embraces everything that movie's get wrong about high school, it finds a balance between the too-negative and the too-positive, arriving somewhere that feels almost right.
I can't I believe I read this long book so quickly. What a solid way to start off the Halloween season!
5 of 6 days
099) Anne of Green Gables by Mariah Marsden and Brenna Thummler, finished on September 29
So this is a beautiful book. I'm more than a bit ashamed to never have read Lucy Maud Montgomery's original novel (it's my sister's lifelong favorite) but I did see the 80s miniseries multiple times. I do have an emotional connection to the story.
I mean—otherwise, would I have wept all the way through this book as I read it aloud to my four-year-old? No, right? I don't know.
Anyway, I need to read the novel.
two afternoons over a week apart
100) The Grownup by Gillian Flynn, finished on October 1
In the back of my mind, I knew the next book I finished would be my 100th and I wondered if I should aim to make it a memorable choice. For instance, I'll shortly be finishing The Glass Looker, which certainly seems a suitable Thericonian choice. But then I picked up this slim volume and that was that. I mean---it's basically a hardbound short story. It does have a nice cover:
(It's cooler in person.)
It's such a cool little thing, I thought I might give it to son #3 for his twelfth birthday, but having seen Gone Girl, I wasn't sure this was a good idea. I flipped through it for a while before I saw the phrase "hand job" which convinced me it wasn't for him.
Could have saved myself some time by reading the first paragraph:
I didn't stop giving hand jobs because I wasn't good at it. I stopped giving hand jobs because I was the best at it.
Anyway, what we have here is a take on Turn of the Screw. And when I realized this, about halfway through, I started to get disappointed. I still might be? But not really. It's maybe have the length of the James novella I'm guessing? And so it doesn't turn quite so many times. But when it turns, it turns fast and it keeps turning. James stopped turning the screw at the end, we just can't tell where it stopped. Flynn's screw's still a-turning when the story comes to its end.
So yeah. I liked it.
A comment on 100s:
I just went and looked. 100s of years past don't seem to show a particular pattern. 2008: Rosemary's Baby. 2009: a Batman-family graphic novel. 2013: Y: The Last Man. 2014: Paradise Vue, which I was JUST TALKING ABOUT with some AML people. 2015: A not-great spooky novel for kids. 2017: A graphic novel I didn't care for. 2018: A wordless graphic novel I loved. 2019: Classic OSC. 2020: My favorite recent YA novel.
Nine 100s, which includes four arguable works of horror, three works of Mormon literature, five graphic novels (including the heavily illustrated kids' novel). So possibly what you would get by randomly sampling? Ask your local pollster.
Previously . . . . :
books from this year
002) You're a Pal, Snoopy by Charles M. Schulz, finished January 4
004) Served edited by Theric Jepson, finished January 9
005) Served edited by Theric Jepson, finished January 17
006) Shem in Zarahemla by Stephen Carter and Jett Atwood, finished January 19
iPlates: Zerin's Sacrifice by Stephen Carter and Jett Atwood, finished January 21
008) iPlates: Alma in the Wilderness by Stephen Carter and Jett Atwood, finished January 24
009) Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard, finished January 27
010) Served edited by Theric Jepson, finished February 4
011) The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, finished February 4
003) Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, finished January 6
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, finished February 5
013) My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett, finished February 15
014) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, finished February 16
015) Sisters by Raina Telgemeier, finished February 18
016) A Desolating Sickness: Stories of Pandemic edited by D.J. Butler, finished February 21
017) Nothing Very Important and other stories by Béla Petsco, finished February 22
Muppets Present "The Great Gatsby" by Ben Crew, finished February 24
019) Uncanny Avengers: Counter-Evolutionary by Rick Remender and Daniel Acuna, finished February 28
020) Guts by Raina Telgemeier, finished March 2
021) The Hoboken Chicken Emergency by D. Manus Pinkwater, finished March 4
022) Ghosts by Raina Telgemeieir, finished March 5
Consent (for Kids!): Boundaries, Respect, and Being in Charge of You by Rachel Brian, finished March 11
024) Memoirs of an Invisible Man by H.F. Saint, finished March 12
025) Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh, finished March 20
026) The Invisible Saint by Curtis Taylor, finished March 25
027) Black Orchid by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, finished March 25
Scrap Mettle by Scott Morse, finished March 26
029) Dugout: The Zombie Steals Home by Scott Morse, finished April 1
030) The Barefoot Serpent by Scott Morse, finished April 1
Is Sex Necessary? Or, Why You Feel the Way You Do by James Thurber and E. B. White, finished April 1
032) Boys Who Became Prophets by Lynda Cory Hardy, finished April 11
033) George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends by James Marshall, finished April 12
034) Stuart Little by E.B. White, finished April 14
035) Achilles by Elizabeth Cook, finished April 15
036) Have It Your Way, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz, finished April 15
037) The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne, finished April 21
038) The Mystery of the Dinosaur Graveyard by Mary Adrian, finished April 22
039) The Garden of Enid—Volume One by Scott Hales, finished May 2
040) Tiny Writings by Danny Nelson, finished May 5
041) Whispering Death! by R.A. Christmas, finished May 6
042) Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, finished May 9
043) T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton, finished May 14
044) Sweet Tooth – Volume 1: Out of the Deep Woods by Jeff Lemire, finished May 22
045) Sweet Tooth – Volume 2: In Captivity by Jeff Lemire, finished May 22
046) Sweet Tooth – Volume 3: Animal Armies by Jeff Lemire, finished May 22
047) Sweet Tooth Deluxe Edition – Volume 2 by Jeff Lemire, finished May 22
048) Sweet Tooth Deluxe Edition – Volume 3 by Jeff Lemire, finished May 23
049) A Book of Lamentations by James Goldberg, finished on May 23
050) How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell, finished on May 25
051) We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, finished on May 26
052) Vertigo CMYK, finished on June 5
053) Plutona by Jeff Lemire and Eme Lenox and friends, finished on January 5
054) The Age of Movies: Selected Writings of Pauline Kael edited by Sanford Schwartz, finished on June 9
055) Pastwatch: the Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card, finished on June 11
056) American Cult edited by Robyn Chapman, finished on June 12
057) Messages on the Water by Merrijane Rice, finished on June 14
058) Words on Fire by Jennifer A. Nielsen, finished on June 16
059) There There by Tommy Orange, finished on June 19
060) The Shakespeare Stories by Andrew Matthews and illustrated by Tony Ross, finished on June 19
062) The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl, Part Two by Scott Hales, finished on June 20
063) Do the Movies Have a Future? by David Denby, finished on July 14
064) The Child Buyer by John Hersey, finished on July 14
065) Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, finished on July 15
066) Dani and Ramen: A Nomad's Tale, volume one by Jake Morrison, finished on July 17
067) Dani and Ramen: A Nomad's Tale, volume two by Jake Morrison, finished on July 17
068) The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey, finished on July 23
069) Kirby: King of Comics by Mark Evanier, finished on July 23
It's a Magical World by Bill Watterson, finished on July 29
071) Future Day Saints: The Gnolaumite Crystal by Matt Page, finished on August 1
072) Dutch House by Ann Patchett, finished on August 5
073) Long Walk to Valhalla by Adam Smith and Matthew Fox, finished on August 7
074) House of Women by Sophie Goldstein, finished on August 10
075) Through the Woods by Emily Carroll, finished on August 10
The House by Paco Roca, finished on August 11
077) Are Comic Books Real? by Alex Nall, finished on August 13
078) Top Ten by Alan Moore and Gene Ha, finished on August 16
079) Baby-sitters Little Sister: Karen's Roller Skates by Katy Farina, finished on August 17
080) Lulu Anew by Étienne Davodeau, finished on August 17
081) The Nature of Oaks: The Rich Ecology of Our Most Essential Native Trees by Douglas W. Tallamy, finished on August 24
082) Thor: The Goddess of Thunder by Aaron/Dauterman/Molina, finished on August 24
083) Pashima by Nidhi Chanani, finished on August 25
Now We're Getting Somewhere by Kim Addonizio, finished on August 27
085) I Am Young by M. Dean, finished on August 30
086) The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye presented by Sonny Liew, finished on August 31
087) The Oven by Sophie Goldstein, finished on August 31
088) Witchlight by Jessi Zabarsky, finished on September 3
089) Loverboys by Gilbert Hernandez, finished on September 3
Apocalypse Taco by Nathan Hale, finished on September 4
091) In by Will McPhail, finished on September 4
092) Deadpool Does Shakespeare by Gerry Duggan and Ian Doescher, finished on September 4
093) WE3 by Grant Morrison, finished on September 4
094) The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin, finished on September 21
final posts in this series from
2007 = 2008 = 2009 = 2010 = 2011 = 2012
2013 = 2014 = 2015 = 2016 = 2017 = 2018 = 2019 = 2020
* the most recent post in the books-read series *