As usual I’m not going to mention the books that I didn’t like because I don’t want the authors to hunt me down and kill me.1 Writers are scary people.
I’m still on a bit of a crime binge. And have been reading a scary amount of adult books. Who’d've thunk there was some good books over on those shelves? Colour me, shocked.
So here are the novels:
- The final book in Denise Mina‘s Garrnethill trilogy, Resolution, was every bit as good as the other two. I have a major writing crush on Mina. She’s amazing. I love the way she writes. I love it so much, in fact, that I typed out an entire chapter of Exile so I could figure out how she did the very cool thing that she did in that particular chapter. I’ve yet to read a book of hers that wasn’t pure genius. I also like the warmth with which she portrays her characters. Even the total shitheads. Set in a very bleak dark Glasgow. Left me feeling hopeful despite the subject matter. (Adult, crime.)
- Clockers by Richard Price. This is a brilliant book. Astonishingly so. Richard Price can write. Some of his sentences made me cry they were so perfect. And yet . . . And yet I did not love it as much as I wanted to. There are two protags and I did not like either of them. Though Strike is definitely less repellent than Rocco. Though that wasn’t it either. Because there are lots of books I love that have wholly repellent protags. Hmmm. I’ll prolly have to read it again to figure out what my problem is. It’s my problem though not the book’s. Clockers truly is amazing. (Adult, crime.)
- We need to talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver. Speaking of books with repellent protags—the narrator of this book is completely unlikable. She’s self-obsessed, self-serving, unreliable, a racist, an elitist. I would go so far as to say that I hated her. And yet I loved this book. It did not leave me cold the way Clockers did. Along with The Man in the Basement by Walter Mosley this is the best meditation on evil that I have read in a long long time. Plus it’s a bad seed novel. And I adore bad seed novels. Shriver totally deserves all the accolades and prizes this book as won. Do not read this book if you’re thinking about having kids. It will put you right off. (Adult, crime—though I believe it gets classified as Literature, but it is a pure crime novel.)
- Double Fault by Lionel Shriver. See? Immediately after finishing Kevin I had to read more Shriver. I didn’t like anyone in this book either. And yet, once again, I loved it. Shriver totally reminds me of Patricia Highsmith. They have the same bleak, unblinking gimlet eye. As they write it we all have something to hide, we are all complicit and selfish and incapable of happiness. This book is the anatomy of a marriage between two tennis players. Reportedly she based it on her own relationship to another writer. Wow. That must have been the most fun couple ever. Like Highsmith I highly recommend that you don’t read too many of her books in a row. Otherwise you’ll start thinking poorly of everyone. (Adult, not crime although it sure felt like it.)
- No Place Safe by Kim Reid. A memoir about the Atlanata child murders from the point of view of a young girl who lives smack dab in the middle of where the children are disappearing and being murdered whose mother is one of the investigating officers. It took me awhile to warm to this one because I kept comparing to Tayari Jones‘s astonishing novel about the same events, Leaving Atlanta. It’s not a fair comparison. Tayari Jones is one of the best novelists in the US and Leaving Atlanta is stunning. But it’s also a novel and while No Place Safe uses some novelistic techniques it’s not—it’s shape is constrained by the real events in retells. Those events are chilling. If that many white children were being killed no way would it have taken so long to start a proper investigation. The crimes remain unsolved. (Adult, memoir.)
Manhwa and manga read on the Queen Mary 2:
- Bride of the Water God Vol. 2 by Mi-Kyung Yun. You know, I’m not entirely clear on what’s going on in this one but it’s so gorgeous I don’t care. There are gods. There is a human sacrifice who isn’t killed and lots of really gorgeous art. (Mythological Korea.)
- Line by Yua Kotegawa. Didn’t like this one as much as her four volume Anne Freaks. It wasn’t as dark or disturbing, but still worth checking out. Well, not if you don’t want to read about about mass youth suicides. (Contemporary Japan.)
- Emma Vol 7 by Kaoru Mori. I would have read this A LOT slower if I’d realised it was the last volume. Only seven volumes!? Mori hates me, doesn’t she? How can I go through life not knowing more about Emma’s life? How? Highly, highly recommended. This is so romantic. It’s reminds me very strongly of Brief Encounter but without the incredibly annoying—I was going to say ending, but the middle and beginning drive me crazy too. It’s also gorgeously drawn. One of the many things I love about this series is how light on text it is. Some of the most moving sequences happen with no words at all. I can’t wait to sit down and read all seven volumes back to back. (Victorian England.)
- Monster Vols. 12-14 by Naoki Urasawa. Speaking of bad seed narratives—Monster is a beaut. I especially love how rarely you see the Monster and yet he spurs almost everything that takes place. Tense, unputdownable, and every volume introduces some new strand or character or complication. Yes, the female characters are a bit same-ish. Don’t care. Love it. (Contemporary(ish) Europe.)
The more manga, manhwa and graphic novels I read the more I want to write some of my own.
Have any of you read any of these? What did you think?
- Or their family and agents. [↩]