Thursday, January 20, 2005

Motherless Brooklyn
by Jonathan Lethem

A conversation between a gangster, wired so his stooge outside—who suffers from Tourette's—can listen in, and a mystery man inside a Manhattan zendo ("a Japanese church") kicks off the novel. The rest of the novel, told by the Touretter, details how he was rescued and mentored by the gangster, first as a petty criminal, then as a shady detective. Between tics, barks, and outbursts, the narrator fumbles through a murder investigation, tailed by a killer giant. Gradually the Touretter collects clues and the meaning of the confusing conversation from the first pages unfolds, a message in a bottle. And, yes, of course there's a little graphic sex, too. The narrator admits to a lover that someone once said his dick is shaped like a beer can. Some people lack all the luck.

Monday, January 17, 2005

The Best of McSweeney's, Volume 1
edited by Dave Eggers

This book made me want to give McSweeney's another look. I love its sister publication, The Believer. But McSweeney's was too caught-up with experimental fiction to be interesting, it seemed to me before. But then reading this I found they'd published journalism and some actually enjoyable stories. Another couple books of stories and reporting issued by the McSweeney's world, which I read recently and recommend: McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales
Michael Chabon
This is the same as issue #10 of McSweeney's Quarterly. The stories varied a lot in quality and interest to me, but there were some gems, and I discovered a couple new authors here.
The Best American Nonrequired Reading (2002)
by Dave Eggers
The 2003 collection is even better. I haven't read the 2004 one yet, but when I think about it I nearly wet my pants.