Latest Book Reviews

Clanlands: Whiskey, Warfare, and a Scottish Adventure Like No Other

So I’m sitting there in a pleasant daze, thinking, ‘Yes, yes, go on…’, when he suddenly said, ‘There is just one thing I wonder: can you explain to me, what is the appeal of a man in a kilt?’

Well, had I been totally conscious, I might not have said it (then again…). Anyway, I looked at him for a moment and said, ‘Well… I suppose it’s the idea that you could be up against a wall with him in a moment.’

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The Red Tent

Jacob demands an outrageous dowry – that all of the men of Shechem shall bear the mark of the tribe of Jacob, and be circumcised. Seeing how in love with Dinah his son is, the King agrees and the bargain is struck. The night after the mass circumcision, Dinah’s brothers sneak into the city. They are furious about the kidnapping and rape of their sister, and slaughter every man they can find while he sleeps.

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The Glass Castle

After years of a nomadic life in the southwest, the family is finally desperate enough to move back in with Rex’s parents in Welch, West Virginia. It is here that the story takes a dark(er) turn, as the children meet their abusive grandparents for the first time and begin to understand why their father left. The story follows Jeanette and her brother and sisters through their tumultuous childhood, culminating in their escape to New York City at the end of their teen years. But are they finally free of their parents?

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A Visit From the Goon Squad

In 1979 San Francisco, the punk scene is burgeoning and Bennie, Scotty, Jocelyn, Rhea, and their friends are on the front lines. Bennie and Scotty are the leaders of the Flaming Dildos, a band hopeful of making it big amongst the likes of their local idols Flipper, The Nuns, and the Dead Kennedys.

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Carl’s research reveals that the poem in question is actually a “culling song”, which has the magical power to kill anyone it is spoken aloud to. Half mad with grief over recognizing that he killed his family, Carl accidentally memorizes the culling song and becomes an unintentional serial killer.

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Memories of My Melancholy Whores (Memoria de Mis Putas Tristes)

You come to understand that he has never traded love for any of the things he could have had for it – a wife, children, family, companionship, partnership. He has been offered everything, and has never taken anything if there was not love. Despite all of his faults and ridiculous shortcomings, he has a queer sort of integrity.

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Sexing the Cherry

Set in 17th century England during Oliver Cromwell and Charles I’s time, we are plunged into the world of Jordan and the murderous Dog-Woman; who is, in the author’s words, “perhaps the only woman in English fiction confident enough to use filth as a fashion accessory.”

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Less Than Zero

When Less Than Zero came out, it was held out by the baby boomers as what was “wrong with Generation X”, and Generation X decried it as “promoting ugly stereotypes.” Perhaps most disturbing (to me), Ellis has been credited in a way with inventing the Kardashians and Paris Hiltons of the world with his portrayal of wealth and narcissism amongst Hollywood youth.

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Mermaids in the Basement

Renata DeChavannes is a slightly overweight screenwriter who has just seen her superstar long-term boyfriend splashed on the cover of a tabloid with a hot young starlet wrapped around him. Furious, unable to reach him, and in the wake of her mother and stepfather’s untimely deaths in a plane crash, Renata storms through her house, ultimately coming upon a note written by her mother. “If you’re reading this, I’m dead,” the note begins…

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