Another not quite banner month for me. The quality of the titles I read made up for how few of them there were. I can guarantee that I will have read more books next month, if only because I am already at three right now. Also, starting next month I am going to include comic collections I read in this write up. This likely means that these posts will be lengthened by one or two entries every month, since I tend to go through at least that many every month. Often I nab them on sale on Amazon for a 3 or 4 dollars and watch them crash my Kindle.
Pysch’s Guide to Crime Fighting for the Completely Unqualified
Shawn Spencer and Burton Guster
This is a fine companion piece to the series. It is written in character by Shawn, with both willing and unwilling help from the rest of the cast, as the series goes along. Each chapter seems to be written a little past when the previous ones were. If the show works for you, then the book will as well. This book is pointless, but it perfectly captures the tone and feel of the show. If Shawn were to have written a book, this is what it would be. Part self-aggrandizement, part nonsense and wholly unable to stay on track. It is just a ton of fun.
Reading a new Chabon is always a delight. Even going in expecting something a little watered down, thanks to Summerland being a YA book, I was still excited to get to it. In some ways, it is a little watered down. This is a book intended for a younger audience and its subjects are aimed at them, but that does not stop it from also being rich and fulfilling.
Summerland takes a kind of hero’s journey and filters it through several kinds of myths and the great American pastime, baseball. It works better than it should. Ethan Feld is terrible at baseball, but he is scouted by a “hero recruiter” anyway. When the mischievous and downright villainous Coyote tries to destroy the lodgepole, the great ash tree that ties all the worlds together, he joins up with his friends Jennifer T Rideout and Thor Wingnutt to stop him.
It eases the reader into it fairly complex and somewhat whimsical fantasy world easily and effectively sets the heroes on their path, but the back end rushes through their adventures so fast that it feels like it is falling apart. It reads like a book that was originally going to be a trilogy, but the writer decided last minute to do it in one volume and jammed two books worth of plot into the back half. The events and developments still feel right, but they don’t get enough time to settle.
Despite the rushed ending, Summerland is still an excellent novel. The writing is better than the typical YA book, and the margin between it and the median is significant.
The Eyre Affair
It hadn’t read any Fforde all year, and a book club I’m in decided to read this, so I thought it was worth another run through. Thursday Next remains one of my absolutely favorite characters and this book remains a perfect mashup of classic literature, mystery and weird alternate reality scifi. The plot stays fairly simple if only to allow the readers to absorb the strangeness of this world as they go and still follow along. That doesn’t mean it is an easy book the read, you will be absolutely lost if you don’t have at least a passing knowledge of classic lit, specifically and obviously Jane Eyre, and British history. As much as I think Fforde has improved as a writer since this book’s publication, it is hard to match the sheer originality of this first entry to this series.