Here’s a new feature that I’ll try to cram in every Friday wherein I talk about some hot new books I’ve got my hands on. So hot they are steaming. And there’s a lot of them and I’m unorganized so they’re in a pile. Here we go!
The Lost City of Z by David Grann
This book is fucking sick. It’s all over the place right now and there’s talks that Brad Pitt is turning it into a movie so I’m sure you’ve been bombarded with it on your most recent trip to Boarders. Don’t be try to be cool and pretend that you only go to the independant bookstore. We all know you’re a fiend for Barnes and Noble and their infinite racks of magazines. Anyway, I’m only 40 pages into this book and I’m hooked. It’s a real life Indiana Jones story of Percy Harrison Fawcett, one of the last Victorian explorers who was bound and determined to find El Dorado, the lost city of Mayan gold, deep in the Amazon rain forest. He disappeared and was never heard from again. Grann recounts Fawcett’s journey and even takes one himself, trying to find out what drives men to explore and why that drive can lead them to obsession and madness. Creative nonfiction book of the year, so far.
The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano
I started a book club with some friends a few weeks back. We’re called the Hard Covers and I’ll talk more about that in a few weeks. We chose this as our first book. Why? Not sure. There was a list of books that we all wanted to read and this one had the coolest cover. Also, Bolano is credited with being one of the creators of Mexican literature and some of us in the club habla espaniol, so it seemed like the right fit. Bolano’s got an interesting story. According to the introduction in the hard cover edition he was one of those possessed writers who did nothing but read, travel the world on a shoestring budget and write his gosh darn dong off. And that’s really what this book is about. Travel, poetry (I know, I know), Mexico and writing. It starts off real good with steady pace and interesting narrator, but 125 pages or so in he switches to an unconventional form that can come off as annoying at first but once you sink into it, you kind of get what he’s doing, but it doesn’t make the form any more interesting once you know what that form is. Guess you just kind of have to stick with it. Kind of hard to explain. Just read it. It will teach you how to live.
Everything Raved, Everything Burned by Wells Tower
I first came across this dude after reading one of his stories in the most powerful lit mag in all the land. It was a good’n of his that they published so I bought his recently released debut collection. Lemme tell you. If you’re a story writer and you’ve been trying to get your stuff published for a long time to no avail, pick this book up. This is how modern short stories are written. Tower’s main strength is his characters. They’re real, fully-drawn people, not caricatures propped up by disingenuous quirks. Most of them are males careening into a mid-life crisis, coping with the stunted growth of their 20’s and 30’s and waking up to realize that they are nowhere close to where they thought they would be at this age. That, and vikings, apparently. I don’t know, I haven’t read that far. Long story short: good stories, this guy will win awards, hop on the bandwagon early.
That concludes this edition of A Big Steaming Pile of Books. Hope you enjoyed. And if you’ve got your own steaming pile nestled next to your bed or in between the couch and the end table, feel free to share in the comments below.