Most of what I read in February was for the Fiction River anthologies and for the various workshops I did. Most of that will receive recommendations from me—or you can just consider Fiction River its own recommendation.
But for the rest of February, I researched a new novel and read some stuff that mostly did not impress me. In fact, I had to go back through my notes to see what I had read. So despite a heavy reading month, I have little that I can recommend at the moment. You’ll have to wait until April to see the Fiction River stuff. And I’m not recommending hard-to-find books from 1970. Or great articles in 1970 newspapers. I figure that’s just too darn obscure.
Here are the books and articles I can recommend right now. Enjoy!
Crais, Robert, Suspect, G.P. Putnam and Sons, 2013. I loved this book. I loved it. Bob begins from—of all things—a dog’s point of view. She becomes a major character in this book. She survives an IED in Afghanistan and is damaged. But she hooks up with a damaged cop, and together they teach each other something—and solve some crimes in the process.
Beautifully written, impossible to put down, this is the kind of book every thriller and mystery lover should read. And every other reader as well.
Hitchens, Christopher, Hitch-22, Twelve, 2011. I have always loved reading Christopher Hitchens’ work. I have disagreed with almost everything he wrote, and I still loved reading it. I miss his essays tremendously.
Hitch-22 is the memoir he was going on book tour to promote when he discovered he was sick with cancer. There are some creepy bits in here, like the opening about how his death had been reported before the memoir came out. While that’s curious, the rest of the memoir is—well, I can’t use the word standard, because it’s anything but. But it’s a memoir.
Why isn’t it standard? Because I still can’t tell you without Googling it how many wives or girlfriends the man had. I don’t even know how many children he had. The memoir is really an intellectual memoir—a life-of-the-mind kind of thing. He faithfully documents his political and intellectual positions and how they changed throughout his life. That journey is both fascinating and well-written.
It also made me chuckle as I read it. Because we did share opinions, just at different points in our intellectual journeys. We never shared the same opinion in the same year. If we had known each other, we would have talked past each other, either with withering sadness ( I already dismissed that idea) or with incredulousness (How can someone with your past have this opinion?).
What I love about Hitchens and will miss is that even though I disagreed, he always made me reassess what I believe to be true. Like so many other intellectual current events writers, he presented a cogent argument, and that would get me to stop and consider if my own reactions could be as cogently presented.
That sort of thinker seems to be going away in favor of the guy who can yell loudest on TV. I hope to find others like him, since he’s no longer writing. I still have a massive book of essays of his that I haven’t read. I don’t know when I’ll get to it, but I’ll probably enjoy it when I do.
Hornby, Nicholas, “Everyone’s Reading Bastard!,” Kindle Singles, 2012. I like Nicholas Hornby’s work, although it can get a bit twee for me sometimes. This is a rather nasty revenge story about a wife who, in the process of divorcing her husband, starts a column called Bastard! which is all about him. It becomes really popular—hence the everyone’s reading part—and it causes our hero, the hapless husband, no end of fits. Is he “bastard”? Or is he just a guy getting a divorce who is doing his best?
Jacobs, AJ, “The Overly Documented Life,” Esquire, January 2013. A very science fiction essay about Jacobs’ journey into life documentation. He had cameras on himself every minute of every day. Small cameras, documenting everything, then downloading it to a computer. Scary to say the least. But the article is written with humor and a lot of self-deprecation, and it serves as both a cautionary tale and a window into what will become the next Big Thing, I’m sure. Read this one, sf fans, and realize that the future is now.