Richard Lazar is advancing in years but regressing in life. After a career as a
literary novelist that has ground to a halt and landed him in a trailer in
Phoenix, Richard is surprised to find sudden success publishing a gritty memoir
about his service in Vietnam. Sent on a book tour by his publishing house,
Richard encounters his biggest (and really only) fan: an awkward, despondent
student named Vance with issues of his own (an absentee father, a depressive
mother, his own acute shyness). Soon Vance has volunteered to chauffeur Richard
for the rest of the book tour, and the two embark on a disastrous but often
hilarious cross-country trip. When things go wrong, Richard and Vance forge an
unlikely bond between two misanthropes whose mutual insecurities and disdain for
the world force both to look at each other, and their lives, in a more
My take: 5 looks
A beautifully written story of the short crossing-of-paths between an old, curmudgeonly writer with his first taste of fame, and a young writer-in-waiting, still sure that the written word holds for him the promise of a future.
Richard is completely unlikable. He lies, drinks, sneaks, and wears his lifetime of regret like a garment. However, he is very likeable. One of his most introspective moments gave me this great quote:
Of course, it was he who was the pile of shit. He felt, in fact, that he was made of shit. Bullshit, dogshit, horseshit, ratshit, chickenshit. His mental and physical state constituted a sort of Pouisse-Café of shit - an elaborate stratification of shit that comingled to crate a shitty whole that was much shittier than the sum of its shitty parts. Immediate, automatic remorse was the greasy top layer of shit, which bubbled on top of the churning shit of his hangover, which was generously layered on top of the firmer soil bed of his bad health and drinking and desire for alcohol, which itself sat on top of untold, fossilized geological strata of guilt and fear, decades - a lifetime - of shit. Chapter 5
This gives the reader great insight into Richard. He knows how he is. He knows why he is this way. But, at this point, he feels that he is probably too far gone for any significant change. He is honest about who he is, and he offers this honesty to all those around him, giving them the benefit of his experience.
Then there is Vance. Vance is instantly likable as the neophyte fan who volunteers to pick up Richard from the airport, as Richard begins his first ever book tour. Vance manages to finagle his way into a more substantial spot on Richard's book tour; and, you guessed it, we begin The Grand Tour.
The characters and the writing of this book meld into a wonderful journey. You almost wince at places, and want to turn your eyes to avoid what you know is coming next. But rather than being predictable, it is more of a well-worn path that you choose to walk with these two.
A colorful menagerie of complimenting characters add a nice spice to this main dish, and serves to move the story and characters along on their journey.
Available August 9th 2016 by Doubleday, I highly recommend this one. It is on my list of 2016 favorites. Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy for this honest review.
Saturday, April 30, 2016
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
I LOVE the library! As a matter of fact, I would love to be the cool, edgy librarian who dresses up, plays characters, and lives a life that fosters a love for books in others.
So, I am always so excited to see libraries getting out in the community and making a difference in lives. In this case, the Little Turtle (love that name!!) branch of the Allen County Public Library system in Fort Wayne, Indiana is helping to feed people.
From the January article in the local paper:
The seed library is meant to encourage gardeners of all levels to grow their own, organic food at home for no cost. The library will supply seeds to patrons to plant at home and any food resulting from the seeds belongs to the grower. However, the library does ask that gardeners let a few plants continue to seed and that they return those seeds to the library to replenish the supply.
GREAT JOB Little Turtle!! By the way ... The Little Turtle branch was named after Miami chief Little Turtle, who was born near Ft. Wayne.
Monday, April 11, 2016
Liberty Hardy hits the nail on the head again with her latest post, I Got Your Weird Right Here: 100 Must-Read Strange and Unusual Novels.
In reviewing the list I find that I have read two, Geek Love (loved it) and Mr. Fox (didn't love it).
What intrigues me the most is that I have never, ever heard of most of these. That is particularly exciting for a bibliophile because it means the addition of genres, authors, and subjects to an already juicy bookshelf!
To be fair, bookseller Abe Books also has a Weird Book Room. Their list has more emphasis on weird topics in comparison to Hardy's list of novels with strange storylines. For example, Abe Books can help your dating life with How to Poo on a Date, or perhaps get you there with The New Radiation Recipe Book.
BuzzFeed Books shares this odd-topic-centered listmania with such titles as Learning to Play with a Lion's Testicles: Unexpected Gifts from the Animals of Africa and Be Your Own Dick. However, in all fairness, that last one is about becoming a private investigator. tee hee
So! Keep your Pride and your Prejudice! I am going to settle in with Lives of the Monster Dogs by Kirsten Bakis: Like Edward Scissorhands. But with dogs.
Sunday, April 10, 2016
The 2016 National Library Week theme is Libraries Transform, and Gene Luen Yang will serve as Honorary Chair.
Gene Luen Yang is an award-winning graphic novelist and the 2016-2017 National Ambassador for
Young People’s Literature. His 2006 book, "American Born Chinese," was the first graphic novel to be a
finalist for a National Book Award and the first to win the American Library Association’s Printz Award.
It also won an Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album. Learn more at geneyang.com.
First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation's libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries - school, public, academic and special - participate.
Thanks to ALA.org for the info!
Saturday, April 2, 2016
From the bestselling author of A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, a heartwarming and hilarious story of a reluctant outsider who transforms a tiny village and a woman who finds love and second chances in the unlikeliest of places.
My take: 5 looks
If you have not yet read A Man Called Ove by this same author, STOP IMMEDIATELY what you are currently reading, and get ready to consume the book in one sitting. I know! It's that good!
Only then you will understand why Britt-Marie must be close to the top of your TBR.
Britt-Marie is instantly unlikable. She is stubborn, unyielding, and extremely rude. However, she is completely adorable from the very first. Handling this dichotomy so deftly is what sets Backman as one of my favorite authors.
Stepping out on her own for the first time in ... well, ever, Britt-Marie embarks on one adventure after another. Her arrival in a small town on the verge of collapse is just what she and the townies need. With a love for baking soda, window cleaner, and a burgeoning relationship with a rat, lives are transformed. Oh, and soccer is a really big deal. Really big.
Originally published in Backman's native Swedish, the story lends perfectly to translation and holds more than one laugh out loud moment. The writing is fluid, detailed and perfectly suited to the quirky characters made alive on the pages.
Many thanks to NetGalley for making this treasure available for my pre-release review.