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review 2018-06-06 01:19
The Lifters by Dave Eggers
The Lifters - Dave Eggers

'The Lifters' made me question my decision about not reviewing books before their release date. I hated this book so much, I felt like it would be unfair.

I know, I know, someone was kidding themselves about their influence on bookface. I also didn't realize I'd stop reviewing books for six months. So many of you have read this incredibly lazy book who could have avoided it!

Dave Eggers was my favorite author the summer I read 'A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius', but he was replaced after, and none of his other writing have ever sparked my interest aside from an essay here and there. So, when I saw the arc for his new MG book I was pleased to bring it home.

Granite, or 'Gran', is unhappy because his family has been forced to move away from the coast to his father's old hometown in the middle of nowhere. Worse still, his father must commute so far to get to work that he's often not home.

The town of Carousel is full of quirky residents who are divided on POLITICAL ISSUE and are so distracted by it that they ignore the many problems of their community, including the sinkholes opening all over town. Gran discovers one girl, Catalina Catalan, who is a Lifter, who sneaks out at night and works underground to combat the forces gnawing away at it.

I found nothing to wonder at in this story. Eggers goes and explains most everything that isn't a lazy allegory right away. The allegory of the force tearing apart the town (and the WORLD) is driven home eventually and is all the more...uninspiring...for the waiting.

This is a humorless book written by a smug adult who doesn't remember why kids love reading, or fantasy, and delivers a knee-jerk of a novel that gives the illusion of instruction. What kid wants to sit through a 'it'll get better if you just believe in yourself' sermon that doesn't actually give them any tools to MAKE it better? So I'm shelving this with 'The Education of Little Tree', 'Go Ask Alice' and 'Mein Kampf', because fuck this book.

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review 2017-08-18 02:57
A Spell for Chameleon, Xanth #1
A Spell for Chameleon - Piers Anthony

I was enchanted by this book when I was younger, the misogyny and pedophile vibes went right over my head (remember that Bink is supposed to be 25, even if he acts 15), but reading the book again makes me wonder what the hell is going on with this book? It was impossible for me to divorce the attitudes expressed about women by every character from the plot of A Spell for Chameleon.

Other reviewers have done a splendid job of detailing what Piers Anthony accomplishes in this book, so I won't go on about it. Just know that while the development of the setting was fun and had some humor to it - the better puns would have to wait for later on in the series - the writing is clunky, Bink is a total Mary Sue, and no woman gets out unscathed.

I've had great success re-reading some old favorites, but this is one that's better off in the foggy depths of pre-adolescent memory.

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review 2007-03-13 00:00
Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders
Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders - Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman's second collection of short stories, poetry and other bits and pieces he decided to send to his editor is a huge disappointment. I am a great admirer of Gaiman's novels and 'Smoke and Mirrors' was excellent. I bought this book the first time I saw it in stores under the assumption that if it was Gaiman it had to be good.

This is a false assumption and a trap that many other fans seem unwilling to admit they've fallen into. True, there are a few gems in here such as the opening story, the Lovecraftian Sherlock Holmes mystery "A Study in Emerald". Another great story, "October in the Chair," was published in the paperback edition of Smoke and Mirrors, and doesn't really count. Unfortunately the collection's flaws outweigh its other merits.

He indulges too heavily in lackluster poetry, and I do read and appreciate poetry, I just think his stuff should stay in those black and white marbled composition notebooks. Also, how often does he have to use the 'this is a true story woooooOOOOOOOOoooooo' motif which only becomes more irritating every time he pulls it out. Shouldn't fiction be able to hold it's own weight? There comes a point when one is too self-aware of their own charm and wit, and Gaiman has perhaps gotten too big-headed over his rabid fan base of which I was once a member. Where are the STORIES, the IDEAS?

As welcome as the thought of revisiting Shadow was, the story/novella seemed more like a chapter rightfully excised from 'American Gods'. His story on the Matrix was ill-chosen and boring. And his bungled treatment of Narnia in "The Problem of Susan" is inexcusable, not because of its perverseness for perverseness' sake (yet another flaw of Gaiman's), but simply because it was unsatisfying and insulting to the reader. I can't be alone in this. Gaiman can say that that was his intention all he wants in the introduction, a 'critique blah blah blah' he just wanted a paycheck and Aslan boning the White Witch made the grade (spoiler alert?). Which is fine, sure. But don't pretend it's anything more than that.

Gaiman remains entertaining in the long form where his gift of storytelling outweighs the warts and bruises of his indulgences, but when his peculiar genius is chopped up into little bits it is clear he is not at all the writer we would like to think he is. I just can't shake the feeling that he is a smug jackass.

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