This month, I have begun hacking through the enormous "To Read" pile that looks as if it will soon over-take my studio. The pile's refill rate is much higher than my rate of book consumption, but I've been finishing new reads like it's my job and think it's time to start keeping track of the awesomeness.
And so, I give you "Yay or Nay Friday," in which I will recommend something of remarkable literary deliciousness, and then ferociously warn against that which was disappointing.
YAY: "CHRONIC CITY" - JONATHAN LETHEM
Perhaps my favorite thing about "Chronic City" is the brilliant collection of beyond-quirky characters. The protagonist, one Chase Insteadman, is a former child star turned NYC loft-dweller who finds himself in a highly publicized relationship with a tragically beautiful, space-stranded astronaut (the "lostronaut," as Lethem so charmingly refers to her.) Chase's narration is underscored by the belief that he is a holographic entity, a mere follower-along, but the lofty syntax and vocabulary that characterize his voice lead readers to quite a different conclusion. Such tension between reality and perceived reality (of the characters, of the reader, of Lethem himself) drives "Chronic City" to some of the mind's most fascinating corners.
NAY: "THE MAN IN THE GRAY FLANNEL SKIRT" - JON-JON GOULIAN
Getting through 300 pages of Goulian's "poor little rich boy" ramblings, which seem arbitrarily connected and lack a framework that would perhaps provide some semblance of logic, was nearly impossible. I kept hoping Goulian would have something to offer, that at some point he would provide anything other than vanity or recollections of his lifelong lack of motivation. Sadly, such redemption never came.
UP NEXT: "GEEK LOVE" - KATHERINE DUNN
Many people that I love and respect have been recommending "Geek Love" to me, and I can't wait to get cracking on this book on my lunch break today. Featuring an interesting mash-up of cults, carnivals, and extreme body modifications, this book sounds twisted and smart. Hooray!