Friday, August 3, 2012

Coming next week...

Sorry for the lack of daily posting this week.  I've been spending my evenings watching the morning's Olympic tennis matches!  Of course, I've been pulling for John Isner (who I caught live at the US Open last year and who is also unfortunately out of the running for gold) and Serena Williams and the Bryan brothers, but my heart and allegiance belong to Novak Djokovic and his ridiculous ability to DOMINATE the court...sigh...
(I studied dance for 13+ years and was NEVER that flexible...)
 (I love how, even from this far away, his calf muscles are INSANELY defined!)
(He's so dreamy...)

Semifinals are this morning...REALLY looking forward to catching the Murray-Djokovic match on DVR after work.  But I promise, once Men's and Women's Singles gold medals have been awarded (hopefully Serbia and America respectively will come out on top) you will have my undivided attention again ;)

Here's what to look for on the blog next week:

1) Review of Understories by Tim Horvath

Summary (from the Strand website):  "What if there were a city that consisted only of restaurants? What if Paul Gauguin had gone to Greenland instead of Tahiti? What if there were a field called Umbrology, the study of shadows, where physicists and shadow puppeteers worked side by side? Full of speculative daring though firmly anchored in the tradition of realism, Tim Horvath's stories explore all of this and more? blending the everyday and wondrous to contend with age-old themes of loss, identity, imagination, and the search for human connection. Whether making offhand references to Mystery Science Theater, providing a new perspective on Heidegger's philosophy and forays into Nazism, or following the imaginary travels of a library book, Horvath's writing is as entertaining as it is thought provoking."

2) Ask and ye shall receive!  I was recently asked by a reader to share my thoughts on Jennifer Egan's A Visit From the Goon Squad, a book I've mentioned several times here but never formally look for that next week as well!
Summary (from the Strand website): "'Time's a goon,' as the action moves from the late 1970s to the early 2020s while the characters wonder what happened to their youthful selves and ideals. Egan takes the music business as a case in point for society's monumental shift from the analog to the digital age. Record-company executive Bennie Salazar and his former bandmates from the Flaming Dildos form one locus of action; another is Bennie's former assistant Sasha, a compulsive thief club-hopping in Manhattan when we meet her as the novel opens, a mother of two living out West in the desert as it closes a decade and a half later with an update on the man she picked up and robbed in the first chapter. It can be alienating when a narrative bounces from character to character, emphasizing interconnections rather than developing a continuous story line, but Egan conveys personality so swiftly and with such empathy that we remain engaged. By the time the novel arrives at the year '202-' in a bold section narrated by Sasha's 12-year-old daughter Alison, readers are ready to see the poetry and pathos in the small nuggets of information Alison arranges like a PowerPoint presentation. In the closing chapter, Bennie hires young dad Alex to find 50 'parrots' (paid touts masquerading as fans) to create 'authentic' word of mouth for a concert. This new kind of viral marketing is aimed at 'pointers,' toddlers now able to shop for themselves thanks to 'kiddie handsets' the preference of young adults for texting over talking is another creepily plausible element of Egan's near-future. Yet she is not a conventional dystopian novelist; distinctions between the virtual and the real may be breaking down in this world, but her characters have recognizable emotions and convictions, which is why their compromises and uncertainties continue to move us.Another ambitious change of pace from talented and visionary Egan, who reinvents the novel for the 21st century while affirming its historic values."

I'm almost finished both Claire Vaye Watkin's powerhouse of a short story collection, Battleborn, and Ben Marcus' The Flame Alphabet, so reviews for those should be up soon as well!

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