We spend a lot of time around here trying to develop schemes and strategies to save the book biz. The best way I can think of to keep the book industry healthy in the short-term, anyway, is to go out and fork out some cash at your local indie bookstore. Tomorrow is National Bookstore Day. Yes, I know e-books are the wave of the future, but we all love brick and mortar! Spend some cash, people! Here are just a few recommendations from each of the four Three Guys, just in case you’re at a loss on what to read next:
Dan Chaon’s Await Your Reply: JC and I will be covering this kick-ass puzzle of a novel next week some time, and following up with an interview with Chaon, whom as far as I can tell, is truly one of the good guys. You won’t be able to put this novel down. And it’s cheap for a hardcover– twenty-five bones!
Joshua Mohr’s Some Things That Meant the World to Me: Dark and exciting debut from one of my new favorite indie houses, Two Dollar Radio. If you like Patrick deWitt’s Ablutions (which we covered here), you’ll dig this unsettling story of a man named Rhonda suffering from depersonalization. This is a trade paper original, so your only out about fourteen bucks.
Steve Hely’s How I Became A Famous Novelist: I nearly peed my pants reading this debut from TV writer Heley. A seriously hilarious send up of literary pretension and the publishing industry. This dude spins comic gold. Nobody is safe from his skewering. The plot is as thin as your average romantic comedy, but the laughs will keep you turning the pages furiously. Hardback, about twenty-six bucks, I think. Well worth the price of three movies.
Dead Boys by Richard Lange: This is a tremendous debut collection,examining several lives in the sun bleached but fractured community that is LA.
My taste in novels is communitarian. The story should include the whole group. If I start reading a story that has only one or two characters; I bin it.
Stories about the city, about art and ideas, food and sex, are a big plus. But what’s most important is family, children and parents, friends and lovers, a dog even. Marriage, in all senses of the word, finding connections, should be the central subject. Art is an act of marriage.
Three near-perfect, 21st century stories are listed below. You should go to your local bookstore and buy all three if you can relate to what I’ve said!
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud
The Great Man by Kate Christensen
Jarrettsville by Cornelia Nixon: The wonderfully talented Nixon tells the story of a Mason-Dixon border town during and immediately following the Civil War. Postwar, neighbors and relatives are cast against each other in very personal battles, and Martha Cairnes publicly murders the man she loves. Nixon methodically and brilliantly unravels the transgressions that led the couple to their fate.
Hell by Robert Olen Butler: Just so you know, pretty much every one goes to Hell. Hatcher McCord is there. So is his father, all the presidents and kings, popes, movie stars, and ordinary people. And they all deserve it, because otherwise why would they be there? Butler is hilarious and brutal, inventing methods of creative torture for all of Satan’s guests, wrapping it all around a clever little hardboiled mystery.
Go buy a book!