Review: Confederacy of Dunces

5/5 stars

I think I have a new favorite book. Certainly a book I will read again and one I didn’t want to put down my first go around. The story of Ignatius and his crusade against the world, making the long term lives of those he touched better off once they survived his initial destruction, was one non-stop laugh for me.

What made this book work so well was the lack of perfection. Though Ignatius was a total prick he was in a world of people just as bad (just better at hiding it) and though they all loathed him, all their lives were better by the end of the book because of him.

One of the other aspects of this book I greatly enjoyed was the amount of dialogue. Firstly because dialogue filled text is such a quick read. While I don’t mind some exposition and non-dialogue text, the fact that the most of this book was told through conversations created vivid voices for all the characters. It also forced the book to show rather than tell and really fleshed out all of the characters.

Review: Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, that was a creepy tale. It was one of those books where I read about 70% of it in about two days, then reached 90% by the end of the week, only to put it down for the rest of the month to recover before I found the energy to finally finish it. In part, I blame the holiday season for distracting me (though it can be enjoyable to read in front of the fireplace on Thanksgiving I was not given that opportunity). However, I think most of the blame falls on this thought-provoking an intense tale. I know this because my largest break came after (view spoiler)

The political landscape in this tale was a fascinating hyperbole of all our worst nightmares of outcomes where the separation between church and state crumbles, and what adds to the sheer terror of this text is the memory of life before the regime the characters have. Offred does not have the benefit of the younger generations of only growing up in her harsh reality and she struggles to forget about the freedom she used to have, which frequently jeopardizes her life.

Now that I have finished the book I look forward to watching the Hulu adaptation of it.

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Giveaway Blues

If you follow authors on social media you’ve probably seen the news by now. Goodreads is changing their Giveaway service for authors; well they’re not really changing anything. They list 4 features for their standard package, which is $119, but most of those features already exist in some capacity. It’s a bold move to charge authors (a lot of them indie) to pay over a hundred dollars to give their book away for free. It might end up working out for Goodreads but I know it won’t be from me.

The email from Goodreads announcing these changes really bummed me out. Personally, I loved giving my books away to anyone willing to read them (reviews or not) because I like the idea that I’m entertaining another person. Sure they might think what I write is a piece of shit and laugh the whole way through (or just use the book as a frisbee) but it’s still entertainment.

I will not be participating in the Giveaway program anymore, but I am pretty liberal with my product so if you want to read my books (present and future) feel free to just drop me a line and I’ll most likely send you a copy. Ask politely with the right emoticons and I’ll probably send you a paperback.

“Progress is man’s ability to complicate simplicity.”
-Thor Heyerdahl

That One Thing

It’s funny, I look back at my three main works on here and they all share a glaring resemblance; I have not published a full-length novel yet. It’s not for a lack of trying. As I look through my unedited manuscripts now I see there are 11 incredibly crappy texts ranging from 55-110k words, all easily passing that 50k threshold, but for some reason, none of them have called to me the way my shorter and published works have.

I like to joke when asked that editing novellas are just easier than full-length manuscripts but in reality, my shorter texts just had that it factor that drew me back before the others.

For Brinwood it was Milly. I knew I had to finish a tale that included her. For Lost in the Clouds it felt more like accomplishing/finishing a story I began telling back in the 4th grade. As for Just Under the Sky; when I began editing that I only had one other manuscript on my computer (a crime comedy called Hopscotch and Keyes, which had a completely disastrous ending I didn’t want to touch with a ten-foot pole).

But I’m all out of novellas now, and it’s sort of terrifying because I know the next thing I publish will be a full-length book, which means it will be fairly compared to other full-length novels and I can’t help but feel I may not be at an adequate level as a writer just yet. I mean to be fair do we ever reach that level? I like to think self-doubt is as American as apple pie and more common than oxygen, but it doesn’t make dealing with it any easier.

As exciting as writing is it also carries a weight that the moment you publish you are being compared to the people you were idolizing years ago (maybe not explicitly but at the very least subconsciously when people jump over your title to get the one your hero wrote because why settle for the poor man’s version of it?).

It’s this constant battle in my head, and I am sure in other writers’ heads as well that I want to simultaneously be recognized for my work without the actual spotlight. I don’t know, it’s like what I love about writing is exploring the infinity of my personal space. What brings me joy is sharing its limitless boundaries with readers; then what terrifies me is having those boundaries invaded by those who want to know more, which is a direct contradiction to the thing I just said brings me joy so it just keeps pounding away in my head until I write again.

It’s funny because even now I think I may be writing this blog post because I finished a portion of my writing duties for the day and I just don’t feel ready to transition back to my daily duties just yet and was looking for some sort of buffer.

I’m just editing this book right now, working title is The Absolute, and it’s a doozy and it’s some sort of funny-sad because there are parts of this I am just pouring everything I got into and I still know it’ll never compare to the people I read for my pleasure.

I mean I’m writing a book where the protagonist’s ultimate goal is to literally kill God (with a big G) and all I can think about while I’m exhausting myself with edits is “Who’s really gonna read this piece of shit?” I mean it’s too pretentious to be commercial, and it’s too sloppy to be pretentious, and then I’m scared I’m just gonna be seen as some wannabe genius (if I’m lucky enough to be seen at all) when in reality I’m just writing the fucking book that comes to me.

I don’t know; I know this blog post has become a bit of a bumble ramble bomble and I apologize for boring anyone who took the time to read it. I usually put at least some thought and measurement into the words I put into the world but maybe instead of searching for some sort of ending to tie this whole thing together I just shut the faucet off and let the sink drain.

Review: The Hate U Give

The Hate U GiveThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, talk about a book that can hit you with every emotion possible. Starr’s character was so well written that every time she had to interact with her high school friends I cringed at their responses. This is an incredibly powerful book, not just for its political message but for the internal conflict Starr is struggling with. The story was so much deeper than that initial conflict, it really dug into who Starr is and why she feels guilty even though the reader is screaming at the pages “You have nothing to feel badly about! You did nothing wrong!”

Though I know there are other authors out there with stories like this to tell, it’s so great to see this sort of coming of age story receive the commercial success it has.

I wish Angie Thomas nothing but success and good fortune in all her future endeavors.

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