So a friend (a FORMER friend; jk) reminded me today that I haven’t posted anything new since November 11th, which is both an eternity and two months ago. Shame on me but I’m also FIERCELY job hunting and then we got new cats and the holidays came up, and the earth parted and the heavens moved, and….

OR…it’s just a deadly combination of procrastination and spending time reading books instead of writing about them. So this first post is going to be about the books I read and loved at the end of last year and beginning of this year. I should note at this point that I read wicked fast and certain authors read faster than others. So, without further ado, my first recs of 2020!

Experience—Martin Amis

I remember reading a lot of my parent’s “adult” books when I was a kid, so I read Amis’ first book “The Rachel Papers” when I was decidely too young to understand it. However, it was interesting, and I’ve read Amis for a while now; “The Information” is a particular favorite. “Experience” is a memoir, and as the son of Kingsley Amis, he grew up among writers and other people of talent and has some great stories. He also touches on his own personal and professional relationships, his close friendships with Christoper Hitchens, Salman Rushdie and other fellow writers, and the disappearance of his cousin Lucy Partington at the hands of a notorious serial killer. The book is witty and searingly honest, but VERY scattershot; he leaps from subject to subject like a spooked deer. Nevertheless, highly recommended.

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The Institute—Stephen King

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I need to preface this review by admitting that I have a shrine to Stephen King in my bedroom.

King Shrine

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I love his writing and “The Stand” is one of my favorite books of all time. Because I’ve read so much King, I tear through his books really fast. I started “The Institute” on January 1st and finished it on the second. I liked the story and I especially liked the main character. It is somewhat disturbing since it involves experimentation on children, some of it painful. However, as usual with King, it’s gripping, suspenseful, and uses small details and idiosyncrasies to bring the story to life. Two clown feet up!

Closed Circles (Sandhamn Murders Book 2)

Wonderful Nordic mystery series by Viveca Sten, ably translated by Laura A. Wideburg. My first two blog posts were dedicated to my love for the Nordic Noir genre, and it was inevitable I would come across this author out of Sweden. Has all the qualities I love about this genre; deceptively simple writing that is nonetheless gorgeous to read, complex characters, and a great plot. What else do you need? There are seven books in the series to date, so I have five more to go and I can’t wait!

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Content Provider: Selected Short Prose Pieces, 2011–2016—Stewart Lee

From Wikipedia: Stewart Graham Lee (born 5 April 1968) is an English stand-up comedian, writer and director. In the mid-1990s he was one half of the radio duo Lee and Herring alongside Richard Herring. His stand-up is characterised by repetition, frequent callbacks, generally deadpan delivery and a pronounced use of deconstruction, which he often self-consciously refers to on stage.

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As with Stewart’s stand-up, his writing is either an acquired taste or a “love him or hate him” kind of thing; I can’t decide. The book is an annotated collection of his Observer columns for the Guardian. Lots of commentary and meta-commentary on meta-commentary. Sometimes I think Lee is a genius and other times, “too clever by ‘arf” but you’ll like this kind of thing, if this is the kind of thing you like.

Anyway, I promise to commit to planning to think about posting more reguarly this year, and if not I permit my friends to send me into another shame spiral ONLY if accompanied by chocolate in some form or manner.

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