Finished: 5/12/21

Grade: A

Savage Detectives is the tale of two misanthropic young poets, and their avant-garde literary movement in Mexico City, told entirely through anecdotes from other characters. Friends, rivals, and random acquaintances weave a conflicted narrative that spans decades and continents where our protagonists are painted at times as comic idiots, delusional criminals, or heroic paragons of artistic truth.

This book reads more like a series of vaguely connected short stories, rather than one contiguous novel, and as such it has its ups and downs. Some of the sections are fascinating/funny/mesmerizing/beautiful and others feel like reading an encyclopedia of Latin American poets. When you’re in the thick of it, it can seem tedious and confusing, but once you finish the novel and step back to take in the whole, the beauty of its structure reveals itself and it all seems to click into place.

Big ups to my Dad for giving me this bad boy!

Finished: 4/8/21

Grade: A

The Nation of Inner Horner is so small that only one of its non-human residents can live within it at a time. One day Inner Horner shrinks, and the Inner Hornerite in residence begins to jut out into Outer Horner. The Outer Hornerites, believing they are under attack and guided by an emotionally unstable non-human named Phil, begin to retaliate against the defenseless Inner Hornerites.

A darkly comic minimalist deconstruction of a nation’s decent into fascism. (and I mean DARKLY comic, like 90% darkly and 10% comic).

At its core this is a book about power. The exponential way that power begets more power, and the frustrating ways that power can corrupt justice, ideas and even the truth.

People on the internet call this book “a parable” and I know it’s a successful parable because I was reading it like: “Ok. I get it. This is about Trump” but then I realized that this book was written 14 years before old DT was elected president. Wow! History sure repeats itself, huh?

Finished: 3/21/21

Grade: A

A memoir documenting Jeannette Walls’ tumultuous childhood.

Her father, a charismatic genius, is crippled by alcoholism, and her mother, an artist who sees the best in everyone, suffers from chronic depression.

With both parents unwilling or unable to take care of the family, Jeannette and her sibling have to take care of themselves, relying on their own hard-won ingenuity and perseverance in the face of poverty and starvation.

At times romantic, at times horrific. This is one of those books that you read and go “Wow. That’s crazy.” A truly exceptional tale of American poverty. Big ups to Lauren Vogel for recommending this bad boy!