Patricia Lockwood’s novel No One Is Talking About This is getting praised everywhere online, and it’s obvious why: I’ve never read a novel that so aptly describes the banal horror of being addicted to the social media world inside your phone. The first half of the book is a gorgeously written account of being Extremely Online, and the second half of the book is a gorgeously written account of a family tragedy. I wasn’t sure Lockwood would successfully merge the two halves into a coherent whole, but she eventually intertwines them both into a single barbed-wire narrative. If you have a Twitter or Reddit account, you’ll probably love this novel exactly as much as you hate being seen by it. (If Facebook is your primary drug of choice, you might not quite get it.)
My interest was piqued when I saw that Keegan-Michael Key
was going to play the title character of Stephen Mack Jones’s mystery novel August Snow
in a new TV series. Key strikes me as an underrated actor, and a drama series seems like an interesting choice for him. And when I saw Nancy Pearl rave about August Snow
, I decided to give the book a try. If writing about cities is your bag, you’ll probably love August Snow. The title character returns to Detroit after a while away, and his long and complicated relationship with the city immediately comes rushing back. But as Snow walks around Detroit eating good deli food and brushing up against testy cops who are none too happy to see him, you’ll likely grow a deeper respect for both the man and the city that he begrudgingly loves. The ending of the book got a little too paramilitary for my tastes—is every detective novel required to include a certain amount of macho gun worship?—but I really, desperately wanted to visit Detroit after reading August Snow
, and so I think that means it’s an effective book.
Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling’s A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (And Some Bears) is custom-made for me, being about a bunch of idiot libertarians and the single weirdest state in the union—New Hampshire. So I enjoyed the account of libertarians trying to build a utopia and failing miserably, but I can’t help but believe the narrative would be stronger as a long magazine article.
Korean author Un-Su Kim’s novel The Plotters feels kind of like if Haruki Murakami did a cover song of a John LeCarre novel. It’s about a clan of assassins and their deep spiritual discontent, and it feels like a bunch of characters from a fun, pulpy literary novel somehow spilled into the literary fiction aisle and experienced loneliness for the very first time.
As a kid reading superhero comics in the 1980s, I was drawn to Ann Nocenti’s run on Daredevil. Frank Miller’s Daredevil run felt too mean, too forcefully cruel. But Nocenti’s Daredevil was, like me, a kid who grew up Catholic who didn’t really know what he believed. He was always questing for himself, and he was always getting the crap beaten out of him—one time, he even got clobbered by a demon-possessed vacuum cleaner. Nocenti was one of the best superhero comics writers of the 80s, and then she disappeared for a long while. I’m glad she came back to write a weird little conspiracy comic book called The Seeds, and I’m even happier that she partnered with David Aja, who is one of my favorite comics artists. Aja in this book is working in black-and-white with an eerie green highlight, which makes the spare beauty of his lines feel even more holy. It’s a kind of X-Files by way of Twin Peaks kind of thing, and it’s a gorgeous, questing kind of book—easily the best comic I read last month.