I’ve decided to write an occasional post about some notable novels that I’ve read in the past couple of years. This is partly due to the fact that I’m currently trying to read three books at once and not getting very far with any of them. Thus, I don’t have anything to review at the moment. I just don’t do well reading more than one thing at a time because my swiss cheesy brain gets all confoozled. Right now, when I pick up one of my three books, I suddenly find myself wondering how Walter Mitty suddenly became a terminally-ill meth-addicted Peeping Tom with severe spastic cerebral palsy. Also, I received an advance copy of another novel in the mail this morning and I want to have it finished before the end of the month, but I have to finish two of the books (Thurber can wait) before I feel comfortable cracking open another one. This is just too stressful!
So, I’m going to kick back and write about a couple of books I read last year or perhaps a few years before that have stuck in my brain due to their above average goodness. I’d say that I probably remember about 1 out of every 20 of the books I read. This seems terribly pathetic, but at least I know that the ones I remember must be pretty special!
Drop City – T. C. Boyle
By now, I thought I’d be tired of this guy, but I continue to be pleasantly surprised by his work. Drop City is about a hippy community that heads to Alaska because it is the “last great wilderness.” In this novel, as in some of his others, Boyle excels at exposing the dark underbelly of the utopian ideal. Someone nearly always becomes scarily dictatorial in Boyle’s novels. This power-tripper destroys others with his ego and megalomania. Drop City had one of the best climactic endings I’d read in a long time. I remember feeling disappointed that it didn’t win the National Book Award in 2003. It deserved it!
P.S. If you haven’t read The Road to Wellville by Boyle, please do! It was hilarious and also terribly icky! My kind of novel!
Natural Selection – Dave Freedman
This is this guy’s first novel, and it scared the crap out of me! I think this came out at around the same time that The Ruins (Scott Smith) was released. Natural Selection was by far the better horror novel. It’s about carnivorous manta rays that evolve for millenia on the bottom of the ocean floor and finally become able to breathe oxygen. They rise from the watery depths and begin to hunt and feast on land animals, including humans. These rays are extremely intelligent, extremely deadly and very frightening. The last battle was pretty extraordinary. I’m hoping that Mr. Freedman will come out with another scary novel soon.
Mr. Timothy – Louis Bayard
Tiny Tim grows up and solves a mystery. If you haven’t yet read anything by Mr. Bayard, you’re in for a treat. He’s a wonderful writer, and I especially enjoy his fictionalized real-life (or in this case, previously fictional) characters. Mr. Bayard’s historical settings are beautifully developed, and there’s lots of action and suspense to keep you guessing. I recently reviewed another Bayard novel entitled The Pale Blue Eye. You can read about it here.
That’s it for now. I’ll be posting synopses of more overlooked favorites sometime soon.