Reviews

Felt inspired by peeps like Zac and Crow and Miss U to write through my feelings with books I’m reading. I’m a trailer-park kid who never went to school for writing, so these are very uneducated takes, just doing this for fun.

SEPTEMBER 2022

Letting Out the Devils — Kelby Losack

Losack fans will find all the itches scratched. Signature, trim-the-fat style. Characters on the down and out. Purple drank the night through. In a tight, read-in-a-sitting package. Didn’t find myself invested as with Hurricane Season or Heathenish, but enjoyed the experience. This was the first book on Kindle I’ve read. I liked it. And, how cheap Losack’s titles are. Thanks, whoever’s responsible. Guessing/hoping the characters are African American, still felt weird to read the n-word. The couple sex scenes felt forced and took away from the otherwise compassionate stance I’d taken with the protagonist. Could’ve been my mood. Kelby’s not responsible for my reaction, so it’s not a jab on him as a writer. Good shit. Will read more Losack.

The Memory Police—Yoko Ogawa

3rd book I’ve read by her. She chills the fuck out when it comes to writing. Lots of my fave Japanese writers have this simple way of structuring where a lot of the book ends up being a protagonist doing mundane, daily-life shit—at the same time, there’s a tension-building technique I can’t put my finger on. If you were to surveillance a retirement home, you might convince yourself creepy shit was goin on. Finished this, so, liked it. The premise is dope—on an unnamed island shit’s (birds, roses, boats, etc.) systematically “disappeared” and these Nazi-like Memory Police go around arresting people and searching homes and stuff, trying to oust people for holding on to objects from the “past.”  I was scared of these dudes. Fuck! Seem hard af. So—the first half of the book riffs, like, this is a dope premise, huh? You know it is. And, memory police, scary right? It focuses on the physicality. What’s going on. Then, blam, the end mobs out on the philosophic/cerebral. Like, whoaaa! Shit disappearing, happens all the time, doesn’t it? To all of us. Whoaaaaa! These hard memory police motherfuckers, they’re kinda, actually, like, Nazis right? Or, Mormons. Or any tyrant trying to kill your past. I don’t wanna give away too many of the good aspects, but will say, the protagonist is a novelist and it does that thing where sometimes chapters are what she’s writing, and I found these bits corny and/or boring and hard to get through.  Will read more Ogawa. Oh, yea.

The Pueblo Revolt: The Secret Rebellion that Drove the Spaniards Out of the Southwest—David Roberts

Liked the parts where Roberts describes his time in the backcountry of the Southwest. Unfortunately those parts comprised only 10% of the book. 30% he’s traveling around talking to Natives and Non-, attempting to decipher “what happened” in the years surrounding the Pueblo Revolt. Whining, and shit. These were, at times, frustrating. Oftentimes, cringeworthy. The other 60% is dry. Roberts doesn’t make the best historian. Might stick to his adventure books.

How High We Go in the Dark—Sequoia Nagamatsu

I’ve read Sequoia a handful of years and got connected to his writing though Twitter. Have to admit, was kind of like, Holy shit, when I started reading. Like, dude is good! Far-reachingly ambitious. With an almost otherworldly ability to invest you quickly in characters. Each chapter shifts frames to a new narrator. You get like 20 pages to be hooked into the new voice and what’s going on. Didn’t know someone could make me cry over a talking pig in 20 pages. But, I guess Sequoia has it in him. Reads like a collection of short stories more than a novel. The stories happen in a world in the throes of a pandemic. Written before Covid, released almost simultaneously as it was hitting the US. Bet that was crazy for Nagamatsu. I can’t imagine. As much as I loved the stories and writing, I ended up walking away about halfway through. Rare, I usually drop a book within the first 15 pages. Just lost interest. Have a feeling he brings everything together in that sweeping way in the last half and accomplishes The Novel, but it just didn’t get there fast enough.

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