Sunday, November 25, 2012

Swamplandia! and Lonely Christopher

A few months ago I received an uncorrected proof of a book called The Mechanics of Homosexual Intercourse by Lonely Christopher, from Akashic Books in New York.  Proofs are a nice perk for booksellers and reviewers—a chance to see what’s coming up and to play talent scout.  They can be daunting, too. Who can get around to reading all these books? How to choose?  I decided to read this one, for a few reasons. Akashic’s an interesting press—Akashic Noir publishes those “city noir” books (check out San Francisco Noir 2, edited by Peter Maravelis), among other things.  The cover of Mechanics is shocking, but compelling.  And it’s part of the Little House On The Bowery Series, edited by Dennis Cooper.  So it was certainly worth starting, at least. 

I read the short stories in a couple of sittings.  Creepy, in the best sense of the word.  There’s a fantasy feel that makes some of the grit palatable, at first.  “Dark” and “edgy” have become publisher’s clich├ęs, but, really… this one’s dark and edgy.  A great first book by a young writer.

I saw Karen Russell read from St. Lucy’s Home For Girls Raised By Wolves at the short story festival in Cork, Ireland.  Great reading—bought myself a signed copy for the plane.  An exciting collection from a twenty-something author.  A surreal vision of Florida, her home state— like Lonely Christopher’s collection, there’s a fantasy feel, but it isn’t fantasy writing.  Genre distinctions don’t matter here, it’s  good writing.  Karen’s first novel, Swamplandia! just came out, and the reviews are all over the map.  It’s burning a hole on my desk as we speak.  I’ll start it tonight! To be continued….

Owen Hill
(Reposted from 2/9/2011)

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