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books

On Zoran Drvenkar’s “Sorry” (2009).

A friendly warning to those who sampled the first chapters of Zoran Drvenkar’s Sorry on Kindle and thought the prologue was merely cartoonishly gory, in the hee-hee-that’s-gotta-hurt-as-you-dig-into-the-bucket-for-more-popcorn Hostel-like vein: the novel gets progressively disturbing and repugnant, in ways that get under your skin. I don’t mean that as an (appropriate) pun either; the crime that precipitates the narrative is set up to be deliberately nasty.

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On David Peace’s “Nineteen Seventy-Seven.”

Deeply unpleasant but ultimately satisfying read. I can’t imagine that folks would go straight to Nineteen Seventy-Seven without reading Nineteen Seventy-Four first, so prospective readers would already be familiar with Peace prose:

The clipped, staccato rhythms.

Hypnotic in their repetition.

In their repetition.

The refusal to connect the narrative dots for the reader.

Words spat out like bullets from a machine gun etc.

Unpleasant: the torrents of profanity, the racism and misogyny, not to mention explicit violence, are relentless and punishing and not for the squeamish.

But satisfying: it’s nonetheless a hell of a page-turning read. Peace packs tension in between the lines, even in the most ordinary sequences (like in the many scenes of copious drinking). The reader’s patience for the damaged and obsessive protagonists is arguably tested by their tendency towards melodramatic torment — there’s an awful lot of drunken tears and suicidal self-pity, even more than characters in a James Ellroy novel — but the book on the whole is well worth the effort. Just don’t be surprised if you want to start viewing cute puppy videos on YouTube after reading the book just to shake the bleakness and grime off.

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On James S.A. Corey’s “Leviathan Wakes.”

And so my genre novel summer reading fest continues… Engrossing, highly readable old-school space opera, like Battlestar Galactica on the printed page. Best part is its cross-pollination with noir, namely, a rumpled, washed-up cop protagonist haunted by old cases and a woman. Not quite the intricate universe-building novel I was expecting — we keep being informed that things of massive planet-shaking historical importance are happening, but it all seems so distant — and the prose can be repetitive and clunky at times (count how many times characters “say something obscene”), but fans looking for laser and torpedo action and complex intergalactic rivalry should check this out.