Here at Evanston Public Library we never run short of good books. The latest crop is coming in now and there are some true doozies in the mix. Here’s a brief smattering of some titles that you may not read about in your New York Times Book Review but that remain very interesting just the same:
Do you see that tiny quote on the cover? It’s a little difficult to make out so I’ll replicate it here:
“What a crazed, beautiful book” – George Saunders, author of Tenth of December
Mr. Saunders may have been holding a bit back on this title. As it happens, this is a meta book in the purest sense of the term. At first it reads like a children’s book, but the ideas go quite a bit deeper. I’ll let Kirkus summarize the story for me. Set in the town of Appleseed, where stories grow in the soil, “Main character ____, a melancholy kid, pals around with his pet sentence, ‘I am,’ and someone named Reader. Given the general weirdness—traffic cones run the town, for instance—actual readers can be forgiven for not realizing right away that Reader is, in fact, a reader, and specifically the reader of this book. When Appleseed spirals into a downturn and ____’s mother takes off to join the Mothers, who patrol Appleseed’s perimeter looking for wayward words, the importance of readers/Reader becomes clear.” If you loved The Phantom Tollbooth but wish it had been written for people over the age of 12, this is for you.
This is for all of you out there who have thought to yourselves, “I like Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None but I think it could be hugely improved if you just added a punk band.” Well your prayers have been answered! “Harvey Keill, ex-manager of the Ladykillers, arranges a reunion for his notorious punk band on a remote island off the coast of Seattle. But once the band and their eclectic entourage arrive, a dark secret emerges from their past to haunt them as, one by one, the guests begin to fall prey to a mysterious fate.” And by “mysterious fate” we mean “death”. So it goes.
This is so much fun, though perhaps a teensy bit gruesome. Who hasn’t fantasized, if only vaguely, about what it would take to fake your own death? Apparently it happens more than you might think. There are well known cases like the 9/11 fraudsters and a lot of strange stories. I love this description of the book that says:
“Greenwood tracks down a British man who staged a kayaking accident and then returned to live in his own house while all his neighbors thought he was dead. She takes a call from Michael Jackson (no, he’s not dead—or so her new acquaintances would have her believe), stalks message boards for people plotting pseudocide, and buys her own death certificate in the Philippines. Along the way, she learns that love is a much less common motive than money, and that making your death look like a drowning virtually guarantees that you’ll be caught. (Disappearing while hiking, however, is a way great to go.)”
To be perfectly frank, it sounds like something out of a Dan Brown novel. A lost Leonardo DaVinci piece of art surfaces thanks to the efforts of an “art explorer”. And here’s the crazy part. He found this art (a holy child drawing) in a Christie’s catalog, attributed to Annibale Carracci. So he bought it. For $1,700. The full story’s even more intriguing.
I sort of love this book for its premise alone. It’s quite simple. A woman joins a survival reality show. She’s doing really well and that’s when she embarks on a solo quest. Of course, when she encounters the abandoned towns with what she believes are fake corpses strewn about the place, she just powers through. Bummer the actual apocalypse just happened. She hasn’t a clue.
Honestly? I just like the cover.
A smart idea for a book. It’s all the stuff they cut out of the canonical Bible centuries ago. The Midrash, the Apocrypha, Gnostic Gospels, you name it. Or, as the creators call it, these are the “DVD extras” of the Bible. How has no one ever thought to do this in a humorous way before?