"I cannot live without books." -- Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Review: Northline by Willy Vlautin

In May 2006 Guillermo Arriaga was at Book Soup to present his newly translated novel "The Night Buffalo", which is incredible in a raw/sexy/hungry way few novels these days are, and when quizzed on what he had been reading he recommended "The Motel Life" by Willy Vlautin. And the book was great---Is great.
Vlautin's second novel, Northline, comes out today with a limited edition CD sountrack written and performed by Willy Vlautin and Paul Brainard. And it's wonderful.
In a new American fiction scene dominated by clever McSweeney's hipsters and polished Iowa Writers Workshop grads Willy Vlautin stands apart as an imperfect writer with heart and hope and a genuine love of&for humanity.
His two novels look like kitchen sink realism in fiction. Like a Nevada drifters "The Bicycle Thief."
I cannot recommend this book highly enough to anyone looking for something different in the new fiction scene.
Bring on the New Realism.

Fleeing Las Vegas and her abusive boyfriend, Allison Johnson moves to Reno, intent on making a new life for herself. Haunted by the mistakes of her past, and lacking any self-belief, her only comfort seems to come from the imaginary conversations she has with Paul Newman, and the characters he played. But as life crawls on and she finds work, small acts of kindness start to reveal themselves to her, and slowly the chance of a new life begins to emerge. Full of memorable characters and imbued with a beautiful sense of yearning, Northline is an extraordinary portrait of contemporary America from a writer and musician whose work has been lauded as "mournful, understated, and proudly steeped in menthol smoke and bourbon"

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Mayor's Tongue by Nathaniel Rich

Riverhead Books Strikes Again!!!!

Just when we thought this was going to be a bleak year for books "The Mayor's Tongue" arrived. This was the most refreshing read I've had in a long while. Here's Stephen King's great and true review:

"I read The Mayor's Tongue with ever-increasing delight, rooting with all my heart for the young protagonist on his near-mythic quest. This is an elegantly-structured, brilliantly-told novel, by turns terrifying, touching, and wildly funny, and always generous and magical. The Mayor's Tongue is about how we talk to each other and how make-believe helps us get on with our lives; most of all, it's about love. Kudos to Nathaniel Rich, who has created a brave book, a novel brimming with brio." -Stephen King

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Book Review - The Dead All Have the Same Skin

The wait is finally over.
For the next week Book Soup is the only retailer in the world where you can get this smoking new Vian translation.
Our man from Long Island Brian wrote a colorful review, posted below, that I'll recommend with the same warnings as the book: Not for the faint of heart, politically correct, morally rigid, old, young, conservative or liberal. Enjoy---

The Dead All Have the Same Skin is a nasty piece of work. vile. depraved. disgusting. rape. murder. racism. immorality. amorality. seedy. sleazy. blood. semen. shit. piss.
The book floats around New York city bars and bistros and pool halls and tenements and back alleys. And dan parker... he's a bad bad man. bangs prostitutes two at a time behind his wife's back, beats up mucho people (particularly black people, he hates black people), hates his wife, hates himself... it's pitch perfect noir. And then it flips off into rod serling territory. goddammit, when parker's knocking around manhattan looking for a black chick to bang ("a fat, sweaty one"), to test himself, to try and understand the 'feral' attraction, and why white wimin just ain't doing it for him no more... well, it's just too much. you see... dan parker is half black. and been passing as white for years. and his long lost brother is gonna 'out' him. not good. dan parker goes apeshit. totally fucking crazy. two black chicks at the same time in a seedy steamy harlem bar, thinking about bashing in their heads, thinking about his white body sandwiched between their dark bodies. wild and weird shit. and then the cops are after him... and that ending. that ending. vian had balls bigger than my head. that this comes out of the 40's? from a guy who had never been to new york and who wrote under an alias as a black american? i don't know. i just don't know. read this shitstained cumspot of a book and meet a man who has forfeited his soul to fear and racism, and watch as it all comes full circle. read this madhouse. but beware.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Book Soup (well, most of us at the very least) loves Patricia Highsmith

Patricia Highsmith about the sexual nature of Tom Ripley

Patricia Highsmith on Capital Punishment and ... murder

Patricia Highsmith on Tom Ripley's guilt

Patricia Highsmith on murder

Patricia Highsmith on the development of the character Tom Ripley