Wednesday, November 02, 2011


I am not much of a one for Halloween, but I got home on Monday just as large numbers of highly excited children were congregating in the building lobby for the annual Halloween party and maniacal subsequent hallway-and-stairwell trick-or-treating, and was swept up in the hospitality of some neighbors I like very much but don't see too often!  Walked away from their place an hour or so later feeling the soothing effects of cheese, beer and candy but also with a real treat tucked under my arm: an advance copy of Heidi Julavits's The Vanishers, a novel I have been coveting ever since I first heard about it a few months ago. 

I am very happy to report that it is divinely satisfactory, her best book yet (which is saying quite a lot).  It is also curiously and perfectly suited to my own reading tastes: imagine faint shades of Ishiguro's The Unconsoled and Sara Gran's Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, a way with steeply pitched verbs that's slightly reminiscent of Gary Lutz or Sam Lipsyte ("magneted," "throttled up," "pay-per-viewing"), a quasi-Parkian reflection on disambiguation and an amazing new definition of override, an eclectic and idiosyncratic mix of occult and spiritualist references, the notions that the "oblique glimpses into the lives of cinema strangers" one gets from seeing foreign films might be the only thing that would partly compensate one for the cessation of "psychic forays" and that parapsychologists would never use social networks due to the fact that they're "'a boon for psychic attackers.'" In short, an unusual and memorable first-person narrator, a fantastic and compelling story - strongly recommended...

Two other things I also liked very much this week: N. K. Jemisin's novel The Kingdom of Gods, the final volume of her excellent Inheritance trilogy; and a gripping Kindle Single by Mishka Shubaly, The Long Run.

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