Tag Archives: #fridayreads


In Chicago once more, the DBC team has many fall titles left to scale. Many of them will take us plain through to 2013. Here now are just a couple selections that we’ll be previewing shortly:

Both Flesh and Not: Essays by David Foster Wallace.

Little, Brown releases 15 never-before-anthologized essays by our most revered literary genius. The titular essay on Roger Federer is held up by fans alongside Infinite Jest as Wallace’s unparalleled masterpiece (something with which Kevin wholeheartedly agrees), and we’re particularly excited to read (and re-read) his dissection of Terminator 2, which we hope will cause the same unexpected stir of emotions that his 1996 essay on David Lynch and the film Lost Highway did. Though of course, because of whom we’re talking about, it will cause the unexpected either way.

 An End to All Things: Stories by Jared Yates Sexton.

It’s exciting when DBC’s Illinois-born-and-bred contingent can read a collection rooted entirely in the Midwest. Indiana, with its contrast between vast cornfields, a storied state university, and Gary’s industrial narrative, serves as a microcosm for America as a whole. These stories chronicle a town wracked with doubt as the collapsing economy closes in — written in presumed contrast to the book’s author, earner of an MFA who has the choice to be there or not be there. It’s a dangerous thing to trust just anyone with a Midwestern voice, so likely to accidentally condescend or misconstrue as they may be. But I trust Atticus Books, and doubt they’d put their faith in anything less than the real deal.

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So it was my (Marnie’s) birthday this past weekend, and I got what will forever be known as the Cleverest Gift Ever Given: my best friend was flown in to Boston as a surprise! I was knocked onto my ear, or whatever the expression may be. I was very surprised. And while the weekend was consequently spent not reading a single word of Christopher Hebert’s The Boiling Season, which we’ll be reviewing at the end of the month, I did manage to pack plenty of celebration in, often even of the vaguely literary persuasion. While getting our pedicures in Beacon Hill, for example, I had the whole salon listening in on my synopsis of Ramona Ausubel’s No One Is Here Except All Of Us, admittedly a far cry from the stacks of Heidi Klum-related reading material provided near the foot dryer. (Seriously, though, I am sorely missing my subscription to People out here in Boston. How am I going to know if a hardscrabble town finds its hero in a mother of five who stuffs backpacks full of school supplies for underprivileged fourth graders?!)

Beyond that, it’s been a week of post-birthday celebration, Valentinular celebration, and subsequent 50%-off-all-chocolate celebration. And, as ever, trying to ignore these awful new memes. As a general rule of thumb, if someone posts something on Facebook and captions it “LOL SO TRUE,” there’s a good chance it’s not not nearly as true or amusing as the offending FB friend has claimed. But maybe I’m just embittered by years of false lawling and trigger-shy from a history of rickrolls.

But here’s a link that’s NOT a song about never giving you up. Scholastic Parent & Child Magazine has announced (via a really cool interactive bookshelf interface) their list of the 100 Greatest Books for Kids. I’ve read 38 of them! How about yourselves? The choices are clearly the product of a well thought-out selection process that accounted for an even spread of ages, demographics, authors, genres, and eras, and made the sound decision to choose only the best of the best of beloved authors’ books so as not to inundate the list with multiple titles. It’s Friday; treat your adult  selves to the nostalgia party that is Scholastic.

Now, to fly to Washington, D.C. Three-day weekends FTW!

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There should be a point in every too-smart young man’s life when he realizes he is more man than young man–this realization, ideally, pairing up nicely with the seventeenth or eighteenth birthday–and ought to, therefore, stop being mouthy, or immature, or petty, and instead start giving fellow man the benefit of the doubt. This would be for the broad benefit of society. Additionally, it should also benefit the man himself, as being a mouthy, immature, or petty grown-up renders this man eligible to the sort of societal punishment doled out for such on-the-grand-scale-small-but-insufferable-in-real-life meanderings: a real ass-kicking.

I’m an idiot. And I tend to act as though I’m still somewhere between thirteen and fifteen, those landlocked years that featured only one benefit: being able to say pretty much whatever I wanted to non-psychopathic folks, those who wouldn’t dare punch a thirteen- or fourteen- or fifteen-year-old kid in the face because, really, that’d be kind of stupid.

So I spent these years sitting in the bleachers section at Wrigley Field during Cubs-White Sox games, extolling the Southside in victory or just occasional run-scoring, without fear that any of the drunken adults around me would stoop to commit the crime of assaulting a minor. Because, at the end of the day, I’m just a kid!

If my son or sons turn out remotely like this, I’ll send them to military school. Continue reading

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It’s a busy season, winter. We’re up to our necks in upcoming reviews, and couldn’t be happier about it.  Our book pile has gone from a stack to a heap to a tower and is now wobbling precariously on its supports of Kwarteng, Hebert, and Winn Scotch, in an array whose subject matter is as far-flung as its authors.

In addition to digging into all of that, we’re trying to make our last-minute decisions on what books we should, respectively, give out on World Book Night.  (We’re running the gamut from Friday Night Lights to Oscar Wao at the moment. Any thoughts?) The deadline for requesting titles is February 1 — five days away — so don’t forget to sign up and participate in this amazing inaugural U.S. event.

Finally, a word on what we’re reading this weekend:

Ramona Ausubel’s No One is Here Except All Of Us, a haunting and beautiful debut about a tight-knit Jewish community that chooses to isolate itself as the horrors of World War II are made clear to them. Ausubel’s voice is so dense and narratively rich that readers can open to virtually any page and find passages that speak a heretofore unconsidered truth about love and the nature of war. Our review of this one is sure to carry mostly a tone of awe.

Other things that have our jaws dropping: how good Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was, and that we’ll now have to see advertisements that attach the words “Academy Award Nominee” to the name Jonah Hill.


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Been a little while, huh? We’ve been really busy of late, what with a new publishing season to deal with — requesting ARCs, fielding review requests (keep ’em coming!), trying to figure out if we will actually make it through a Boston winter with no significant snow accumulations — and a bevy of other real-life issues and minutiae. So, what are we reading?

Colin Winnette’s Revelation
This will be reviewed next week. It’s fun to review small press titles — all the more when the writers are as talented as Winnette. He is a talented writer — Revelation is a testament to this, as well as his honorable mention finish in the Leap Frog Press Fiction Contest in 2011 — with some credible fans. Look at this blurb by Ben Marcus:

“In Revelation, Colin Winnette sets fire to the world, and in the aftermath, characters wander through smoke, struck dumb by devastation. A forceful book — stripped down, cool, and painful — about the absolute peril of desire.”

Heady praise. Look for our review next week.

Have a good weekend. Eat some pizza, for Christ’s sake.

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Well, in a further consolidation of this blog’s original acronym, I, Marnie, have made the move to Boston. It’s oddly fitting that I type this in a coffee shop where, within five minutes of my arrival, I was asked by an Irish woman about where she might find the nearest bookstore. The best part was, I was able to tell her! (It was Brattle Book Shop, an extremely worthwhile destination for anyone willing to stomach its oft-sassy staff.) Already a literary local, y’all. Step two: adopt an Irish brogue. Step three: thank the staff of this coffee shop for playing “Bittersweet Symphony.”

At any rate, our hectic review month of January presses on. Here are the #fridayreads we’ve got on our recently relocated nightstands:

Ben Marcus’s The Flame Alphabet

If the premise of a world where children’s language has disease-like effects on adults isn’t creepy enough, look into the book trailer for this upcoming release. Does it remind anyone else of the Salad Fingers cartoons of yesteryear? And if so, is there any way you’re not chomping at the bit to read it? Marcus presents a literary-minded rather than a principally plot-driven novel, and our review of The Flame Alphabet will be up later this month on pub day.

Ransom Riggs’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

We’ve got a guest review of this bestseller on the way, and we hope that said reviewer becomes a regular correspondent for YA literature — an area that remains largely untapped by your DBC|Reads crew.

Alan Bradley’s The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

The first installment in the Flavia de Luce series, I was given this book from a dear friend as a going-away gift. She is very excited for me to start in on what she says is the epitome of a charming, fun, adventurous read. When I asked around about Sweetness (being, as always, the last person on earth to read it), it turns out there is little else but praises sung for Bradley’s bestseller, and one friend responded to my inquiry by simply exclaiming “FLAVIAAAAAAAA!” at the top of her voice. If that’s not a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is.

….Speaking of ringing endorsements, this coffee shop’s playing “Feel Good Inc.” now.

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This year, for the first time ever, I am flying on Thanksgiving Day. Given that I’ll be working late into the evening Wednesday night, closing down the office, dotting and crossing the requisite letters, etc. and that I love saving money, flying on the holiday morning makes perfect sense. There is, however, the creeping dread: flying that day leaves no wiggle room. What if there’s a spontaneous snowstorm that closes down the entire East Coast? What if I eat my turkey leg at the Legal Seafood at Logan International—except since that this is a crazy situation stranding me at a “high”-class seafood restaurant in a busy airport, I’d be eating some low-class marlin or something—and never even get to smell homemade stuffing or fill my mouth with entirely too many mashed potatoes?

What if Boston’s notoriously unreliable and lousy, filthy, rotten public transit services decide to shut down en masse—it is a holiday, after all—leaving me with a more unreliable, lousier, filthier, rottener option: taxis. Taxis in Boston are nothing like taxis in Chicago (and New York, as some have informed me); that is to say, they are crazy expensive and almost impossible to find. Given that I live in Somerville, taxis are sparser here than the city. And Cambridge—our more erudite and irrevocably haughty neighbor city—taxis can’t even drop off in Somerville; mind you: the border between Somerville and Cambridge is arbitrary and stupid (so much so the cab drivers don’t even know what’s what).

At this point, I’m just going to assume I’ll be taking a raft from the Aquarium to the airport. It’ll probably be quicker, anyhow.

It’s best I not think about how everything could go wrong. But I’m not that kind of guy. I’ll be monitoring the weather for next Thursday every seventeen minutes until I go to bed Wednesday night.

So what are you reading this weekend?  Continue reading

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So I go to this cafe that shall remain unnamed basically every day for lunch. Given that I work in the area around Boston Common, sensible and sanitary meals are hard to come by, so my personal philosophy is: when you find a place, don’t let go.

This cafe screws up my order every single day. And I’m not talking about screwing up a nonfat caramel macchiato with brown sugar dabbed on the whip cream in healthy increments. No, I’m talking about such brainteasing orders as everything bagel with hummus, or side salad or glass of water.

Its floor design is abysmal; there are no walking lanes; if you’re carrying a hot plate: good luck. They usually burn espresso. If you complain, they are brutally nonchalant about it. Their Yelp page basically corroborates all of my experiences.

So, yesterday, thinking that I might have to find a new place to get my nom on every afternoon, I decided to order something new, that day’s soup du jour, Thai chicken curry. It wasn’t otherwordly, but my usually awful barista asked a very simple, very surprising question: Do you want croutons in your soup?



Peter Orner’s Love and Shame and Love
In the creative writing department at my alma mater, Orner’s writing is required reading. Having read “The Raft” on multiple occasions in class, I picked up Esther Stories last year. It’s hard to pin down what’s so moving about his writing beyond the fact that Orner has a particular skill for deployment: his scenes are often brusque and short, but what’s contained in them is so essential (I’ve found this to be true in my foray into Love and Shame and Love). It’s unfair to call this approach minimalistic or drag Ray Carver into it. There’s just an immediacy to what’s on the page. It’s impossible to stop paying attention when what’s there so forcefully commands you to stay engrossed.

Love and Shame and Love is out Monday. Go get it.

(I’m not shilling; it’s very good.)

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Hi, all. How have your respective weeks and now weekends been? Long? Boring? Tiresome. The East Coast weather has been a drag, hasn’t it? I’m getting to that point in the fall season when I know winter is so close; that point when the fear of winter takes hold. You know, that irrational anxiety that makes you forget about all the good parts of winter? Peppermint, scones, fireplaces, wool socks, gifts, my birthday, etc. Right now, all I can think of is frozen/freezing rain, six hours of sunlight, a significantly higher utilities bill, and a drafty window I can’t seem to fix.

But, of course, these dark and mysterious times also call for nights spent inside, under a blanket, bathed in lamplight, drinking sidecars, reading good books. You know, white people stuff.

Those of us here at DBC pride ourselves on being busy people; thusly, we missed #fridayreads. But  you should read every day, really. Blogging every day is another matter.

Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot
Speaking of sidecars, white people, and good books, The Marriage Plot is about all three. I’m about halfway through with it, and I’ve realized something: Eugenides is no master of language. He’s obviously a very good writer, Pulitzer-worthy, etc. But there’s nothing transcendent going on in the content or execution of The Marriage Plot. He does, however, do two things very well: He develops characters and he tells stories. His craft and organization in The Marriage Plot are what make it something more than just a bestselling book overrun with obscure-outside-of-college lit references. Rather, it’s a book with a simple, compelling story arc (I’ll talk about that in the review this week) and conflict (this one is simple: love). Eugenides is great at steering through time, revealing just enough information and backstory to keep his reader invested. I can’t wait to finish.


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I’ve been watching a good deal more TV than usual. This could have something to do with the return of AMC’s The Walking Dead, or my discovery of MeTV with its five-nights-a-week Dick Van Dyke Show, or perhaps it’s plain ol’ laziness induced by the onset of cold Chicago weather…but we’ll ignore the latter. In any case, watching so much TV—and feeling heartily guilty about it—has got me thinking a lot about the act of watching, the cheapest form of voyeurism that basic cable sustains. In that vein, our #fridayreads will involve writing on the topic of television.

Continue reading

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