Friday, April 26, 2019

My March in Reading

Here's a review of all of the books that I buried my nose in last month.

Peter Heller
Knopf Publishing 
(March 2019)

4 Stars

The best audiobook I've listened to so far this year. The narrator complimented the writing and his reading style kept me engaged the entire time. What starts out as a buddy trip quickly turns into a game of survival of the fittest when a moment of good intention twists iteself into the men's worst nightmare.

Jordan A Rothacker
Stalking Horse Press
(March 2019)

3 Stars

A collection of strange and somewhat forgettable stories. Of the bunch, Parables Three which is three stories within the story, one of a young boy who listens to an old man's story, one of a magician who fears he's a fraud, and one of a little girl who asks god for a christmas present; A Night, Like Any Other; Or Ooh, Ooh That Smell where a bullied boy finds release in burning a body, and Winter Solstice, in which a young man buries the star of his deceased mother's nativity scene, were immediate favorites. That is not to say that the rest of the stories were clunkers... far from it. Each one was uniquely skewed and twisted, but they lacked staying power, quickly fading away the further I navigated into the collection.

Ronan Hession
Bluemoose Books
(March 2019)

3 Stars

This is the most "feel-good" fiction I've read in a long while. A slow, meandering walk through the lives of Leonard and Hungry Paul - two awkward, introverted, thirty-something year old besties who still live at home with the 'rents - as they navigate slight but extremely distruptive changes in both their lives. Insightful in its simplicity, Hession's novel showcases the power of friendship, living in the moment, and embracing the person you are, flaws and all.

Maurice Carlos Ruffin
One World 
(January 2019)


I started to listen to this on audio during my work commute. I only made it a week, I just couldn't do it anymore. Part my struggle was the audio narrator. He was a speed talker for sure and came across as a little manic and high strung. I blame the rest on the overall pacing of the novel itself. It jumped and skipped around too frequently for me, as if the book's narrator (or the author himself) had ADHD. Though I really didn't want to, I had to call it quits. It just wasn't for me.

Paul Crenshaw
Mad Creek Books
(March 2019)

3 Stars

As a hard core literary fiction fan, I'll admit I'm still quite new to the whole genre of non fiction essay collection. In an effort to broaden my reading horizons this year, I'm trying to read it more often, but I keep finding myself torn with same old question of how-much-of-this-is-truly-true-and-how-much-is-fluffed-up-in-an-effort-to-keep-my-attention-or-fill-in-the-gaps-that-memory-leaves-blank? Paul himself, in his essay "Choke", takes a moment to acknowledge this very thing, stating that memory, and how one unravels or shares the truth, how things are arranged and shared within the essay, can change the story. So how many creative liberties and fill-in-the-blanks-when-we-don't-remember-the-specifics have to take place before the non fiction actually becomes fiction?

What's here is well written, and my preferred essays, though this shouldn't come as a shock, were those that focused most specifically on Paul and his family. I found myself most rapt when reading about his own experiences vs those pages he devoted towards researching and spewing out facts and numbers about his hometown, religious influences, and the like. 

Though, counter to what I just said, Paul also manages to cross over into my greatest pet-peeve territory by introducing animals only to kill them off. Only this is 10xs worse because it's for reals and not for the fiction novel shock factor. These deaths will haunt me for a long time to come. I hope he's happy.

Asja Bakic
The Feminist Press
(March 2019)

4 Stars

Strange and mysterious settings plague this intensely striking and infectiously readable debut collection of speculative short stories. From a woman who must write herself out of pergatory, to a future world in which all literature and their authors are packed up and sent away to Mars, many of the stories focus on the power of the written word in some fashion, creating interesting and alluring atmospheres. Worlds are upended, relationships are not what they seem, protagonists face personal epiphanies... it's a melting pot of sci-fi meets cli-fi meets dystopian meets speculative fiction in which every reader is bound to find something to love.

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