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Drive-Thru Zoo
Tyson Bley
Bare Nerve
Katherine Garbera

Anarchism and Other Essays

American Psycho - Bret Easton Ellis, Harald Hellmann, Clara Drechsler

note: Clearly, given my two previous experiences with Bret Easton Ellis, I do not learn.I'm on page 33 of American Psycho: Dude, just eat the fucking bran muffin already so we can all get on with our lives.I'm on page 71 of American Psycho: After careful statistical sampling, I have determined there would be 50% less of this fucking boring book if we didn't have to read catalog descriptions of every single item of clothing every single character wears. I get it, I get it, blah blah blah American Dream blah blah blah consumer culture blah blah blah. If it's as boring to live as it is to read, no wonder they're all doing coke.I'm on page 88 of American Psycho: Shocked by upper middle class white serial killer treating stereotypical Chinese laundry immigrant like shit. Shocking! What a shocking book, I am so shocked by this revelatory picture of American culture!I'm on page 100 of American Psycho: I give up. You beat me, Bret Easton Ellis, I can endure no more of your highly lauded coma-inducing boredom!

The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold Strange book little book. Enjoyed.

Fat Vampire: A Never Coming of Age Story

Fat Vampire: A Never Coming of Age Story - Adam Rex This book would've been a solid four, but the ending sucked.

Spirit of the Living Room (Spirit of the Home)

Spirit of the Living Room - Jane Alexander I read Spirit of the Living Room (ebook) after finishing Spirit of the Kitchen (ebook) even though I'm pretty happy with my current living room. Like Spirit of the Kitchen, it can be a little new agey, covering Feng Shui basics and energy flow, and psychic cleansing, but regardless of the metaphors used to present the information, the design principles are sound.This is not a how-to-decorate-your-home book; it's more like a philosophy. The emphasis is on creating a space that suits the individual.

The Marquis' Secret: Sequel to the Fisherman's Lady (MacDonald / Phillips series)

The Marquis' Secret: Sequel to the Fisherman's Lady (MacDonald / Phillips series) - George MacDonald My tiny apartment kitchen is a disaster. Okay, it's not actually tiny. But sometimes it feels so tiny because it's so crammed with stuff. Or it was, before I read this book. Spirit of the Kitchen is short and sweet and a little new agey. Basically, reading it is kind of like having your zany best friend over for coffee and somehow you end up talking about how much you hate your kitchen. And she's got some ideas!The focus of this book isn't the ideal number of steps between sink and stovetop or which way your refrigerator door should open for maximum efficiency. It's more about the soul of the room, how to create a space that's warm and welcoming. Which is what I've always wanted in my house.If you're uncomfortable with the new age stuff (feng shui, pagan deities) just take it as metaphor. (I did.) The ideas, the philosophy, and the inspiration are still sound.

A Million Little Pieces

A Million Little Pieces - James Frey God this book is tedious. If you want a guide to hackneyed literary artifice, A Million Little Pieces is an object lesson.I read this book because of the hype and subsequent outrage at its fraudulence in 06-07. I figured to have so many people so worked up, there must be something to the book, right? I suspect the original fascination was akin to admiring a dancing bear. It's not that the bear dances particularly well--it's that the bear dances at all.

An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England: A Novel

An Arsonist's Guide To Writers' Homes In New England - Brock Clarke If you're in an airport, and you don't have anything to read, and you are in one of those airport bookstores, and you don't see anything else you want to read more, you could buy this book and it would get you through your trip. Or you could just make up stories about the crazy ass people in the airport and then watch in-flight movies on the plane and shoot spitballs at the annoying drunk guy three rows up. (But you have to bring your own straw. They don't give you straws on airplanes. This is probably why. Steal a handful from one of those overpriced fast food chains in the airport. If security asks why you need a dozen straws, tell them, "Emergency tracheotomies.")It could have been clever and funny as hell. (It's not.) Sam Pulsifer's kind of likeable. But likeable in the way that you say "Hey, s'up?" to your regular clerk at the 7-11. Not likeable like you'd want to hang out with him after his shift's over. You don't really give a crap about him. You could root for the guy, but, like he says (over and over again) he's a bumbler. Not even the kind of bumbler that you hope will make good, like the loser kids with their PeeWee hockey team in Disney movies that you secretly hope will win the championship, despite all odds being against them. (Don't worry, they will, it's a Disney movie and that's how they roll.) Sam's just one of those dudes whose life is a wreck, and you feel a vague, "Oh? Is that what he's doing now?" curiosity. But you can't root for him, because you know, deep down, it's wasted energy.Kind of like reading this book.

Imperial Bedrooms

Imperial Bedrooms - Bret Easton Ellis I don't know what I was thinking, reading this book. I knew, knew that it was the sequel to Less than Zero and I read it anyway. Because clearly there is something wrong with my head.Twenty years later, the boring, drug-addled narcissist kids of Less than Zero have turned into boring, gin-soaked, narcissist adults. At least some shit happened this time, but it's mostly a result of them doing fucked up things to each other, and since there isn't a single decent human being in the bunch I couldn't see my way to caring. (But that's okay, because none of the characters care either.)I suspect I'll go on to read American Psycho anyway. (I'm probably not the sharpest pencil in the box.)

Less Than Zero

Less Than Zero - Bret Easton Ellis Two hundred pages of spoiled rich kids getting fucked up, fucking, and driving around being bored.I kept reading, thinking, "God, something's gotta happen soon. I bet when it does, it's gonna be awesome, because everyone says Bret Easton Ellis is so awesome." A third of the way through, half way through, I thought, "Any minute now, some shit's gonna happen..." About twenty pages from the end, I realized, "No, nothing is going to happen. This actually is an entire book about boring, narcissistic rich kids with drug habits who do nothing but drive around from party to party (where they do drugs) being boring narcissists. Fuck. I am such a schmuck for reading this entire stupid book. You sure got me good, Bret Easton Ellis."Just go hang around with some boring, privileged, self-absorbed addicts that you don't actually like in real life; you'll get pretty much the same effect as reading this book. (Note: Some reviews mention "shock value." All I've gotta say on that is that any "shock value" this book had has seriously depreciated since the 80s.)I suppose I could mark this review as containing spoilers, because I have just told you everything that happens in this book. But since nothing interesting happens in this book the idea of spoilage is moot.

Hedda Gabler

Hedda Gabler - Henrik Ibsen, William Archer Most dreams in fiction are just hokey, clumsily handled devices to prop up the plot, things no one could mistake for real dreams. The Empty City, on the other hand, reads like a dream. An intense, literary dream that you just can't shake, where faintly remembered images subtly haunt your waking reality. The Empty City is not plot driven; the real action lies in Brandon's changing relationship with how he understands reality. It is, as the book itself says, "a story about silence" and the short chapters, episodes of Brandon's life, both waking and dreaming (and sometimes it's difficult to tell which is which), read like meditations.

Squire (Indigo Knights)

Squire  - Jet Mykles I knew, when I started Shinobi, that I didn't care for erotica or BDSM, and so I mostly skimmed those scenes. I did enjoy the story and the characters, and I suspect that many of the things I would highlight as flaws in this book are the result of genre constraints and not the abilities of the writer. (I would've liked more focus on the story and less on the sex, for instance, and I wish the paranormal aspects and the use of ki had more prominence and definition. :)Shinobi also left me with no doubts about Sessha's ability as a writer or storyteller, and I secretly hope (or not so secretly, I guess) that she turns her hand to mainstream fiction at some point. Caveat: this book is pretty dark; Yoshi (the main character) is brutally and explicitly raped early on, and several characters share a background of childhood sexual abuse. (To be clear, there is *no* graphic abuse of children depicted in the book, but this is a trauma several of the characters continue to deal with, so the subject comes up several times.)

Water for Elephants: A Novel

Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen Water for Elephants is utterly safe and predictable. It's a love story set in a traveling circus in the 1930s, and for a book that touches on abusive relationships, mental illness, poverty, and the subjugation of the economically weak, it is disappointingly mundane and in no way challenges how we think about those things. (The word "pap" comes to mind.) Sara Gruen's writing isn't bad, but it's not extraordinary either. For what it's worth, her enthusiasm for the subject and her research shines through and gives the book a kind of cheerfulness that relieves the tedium. But that's not enough to make this a good book.(If you're looking for a few hours of simple entertainment that won't tax you in anyway, this book would do fine.)

Burn, Baby, Burn

Burn, Baby, Burn - Jake Barton For a reader that likes thrillers with serial killers, this would be a decent read. Not an outstanding example of the genre, but it's not going to make your eyes bleed or anything.

Around the World in Eighty Days (Bantam Classics)

Around the World in Eighty Days - Jules Verne I didn't get real excited about the first "Donna" book, but I always enjoy Jake's blog so I thought maybe the second book in the "Donna" series would be better. I didn't find that to be the case. I'll probably skip future "Donna" books.

Becoming a Writer

Becoming a Writer - Dorothea Brande, John Gardner Most useful book I've ever read on the process of writing.

The Metamorphosis (Bantam Classics)

The Metamorphosis - Franz Kafka, Stanley Corngold I put off reading this because I thought a story about a guy turning into a giant bug would be stupid. I was wrong.