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What I Read in January, 2015

So, I mentioned that I’d try to keep up with this—posting what I’ve read over the last month or two—in the hopes that it encourages me to continue reading and helps me to remember what I read.

In January, 2015, I read the following:

The first two are part of a post-apocalyptic trilogy, self-published by the author, and selling like gangbusters on Amazon. I was curious to see how they held up without the support of a traditional publishing approach, and happily, they proved entertaining and well-packaged. No upsetting typos, no continuity errors, no glaring plot holes—in other words, none of the things that publishing houses charge a hefty percentage to prevent. My compliments to the author as well for an engaging read. I borrowed the first two for free through Amazon’s Prime Lending Library, but I was disappointed to find that I was not able to borrow the third book as well.  It appears the books were recently removed from the program. I’ll wait until it’s available for free to finish the trilogy.

Maps and Legends is a mostly-enjoyable collection of essays by a fantastic author. A few really stood out as worth re-reading and sharing, particularly, “Trickster in a Suit of Lights” in which he argues for the value of genre fiction, “Fan Fictions: On Sherlock Holmes,” which had some interesting bits of Holmes history, “Dark Adventure,” a review of McCarthy’s excellent The Road, and a few other essays in which he discusses the process of starting and finishing his first and second novels. The rest are interesting though forgettable. Chabon’s mastery of English is, as always, on display and in service of each piece rather than simply window dressing. His reputation is well-deserved. I read through his two short story collections last year, and found the second to be particularly enjoyable.

And Ken Bruen’s A White Arrest is the first in a crime fiction series. It’s short, offensive, and poorly executed. And the ebook has many of the problems that Howey’s do not—typos, technical errors (like turning the page and having it skip to the next chapter). At one point, I was so confused by the energetic (sometimes hilarious) and staccato style, the out-of-order timeline, and the technical errors, that I began to wonder if my Kindle was somehow on shuffle. That’s not an actual option, so it wasn’t, but that should give you an idea of how I found this book. I’ve heard so many good things about Bruen, however, that I’m giving him another chance. February started with me well into the next book in the trilogy, and his writing has improved significantly. One line actually made me laugh out loud, which isn’t great if Anna’s sleeping: “The Super[intendant] brushed crumbs from his splendid uniform, noisily finished the tea. Can tea be chewed? He was giving it a good try.”

So, there’s a month done. I’ll be back.

Happy Reading,
Dan

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