Damned Lies

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This is all... mostly foreshadowing?

This is all… mostly foreshadowing?

Weird, quirky, and geeky as Hell, Damned Lies had me laughing out loud more than once.  Liggio combines absurdist humour and the picaresque in a manner reminiscent of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  Don’t get me wrong; this novel does have its flaws but overall it was a very fun read.

The premise of the novel is referenced in the title: the author is bed-ridden after a traffic accident and decides to spend his newly freed time writing his memoirs.  Whether due to embellishment on his part or a recent concussion, what emerges is a strangely supernatural ramble through the worlds of fantasy, sci-fi, and horror fiction.  Ominous births, crazy dates, and metafictional brothers are all introduced and dismissed within the first fifth of the novel, giving you a taste of what’s to come.  Damned Lies primarily focuses on a bizarre summer journey, which takes place the summer after the protagonist’s high school graduation, and the machinations of the clone he creates to stand in for him.  As you may have guessed by now, this is not a novel that takes itself seriously.

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A Quest of Heroes

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This castle only appears in a brief conversation between two characters at the end of the novel.

This castle only appears in a brief conversation between two characters at the end of the novel.

It was with some trepidation that I started on this Quest.  (Pun too obvious?)  The generic high fantasy title suggested to me a generic high fantasy tale, and for the most part that’s exactly what you get.  Quest hits on many of the common fantasy tropes – the youth who feels he doesn’t belong, the noble bastard, the scheming princeling, a mysterious court magician…  As an avid consumer of Tamora Pierce novels in my youth, I felt that I was retreading very familiar ground with this book.  The reader I am now found the novel predictable and a bit too cliché for enjoyment, but the reader I was then would have thoroughly enjoyed it.  With that in mind, I will attempt to channel my twelve-year-old self and give this thing a fair evaluation.

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Pacific Avenue

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Bland cover, or layered allusion to Disney's racially-charged "Song of the South"?  You decide.

Bland cover, or layered allusion to Disney’s racially-charged “Song of the South”? You decide.

Anne L Watson’s Pacific Avenue is one of those novels that would be easy to dismiss as mere romance.  However, that would be unfair.  Pacific Avenue is also a story about young adulthood, racial prejudice, middle-class expectations, and the psychological effects of war.  Kathy is young, white, and middle-classed; the daughter of an idealistic college professor and a closet-racist of a housewife.  Lacey is middle-aged, black and poor; an under-payed secretary whose own daughter has just left for college.  The pair serve as narrators for the story that ensues, Kathy recounting the story of a failed interracial relationship with Richard Johnson; and Lacey providing an alternative view point on the same.  One of those stories, then?  Yes, to some extent.  Watson’s novel  falls strongly into the realm of literary fiction.  In some intangible way, it reminds me of Kim Edwards’ The Memory Keeper’s Daughter.  Unlike last week’s novel, this is just the sort of story I enjoy.  So without further ado…

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