Skip to main content

January Reads: Jean-Patrick Manchette, Marky Ramone, Nikki Dolson, Jess Walter, Shirley Jackson

The Mad and the Bad by Jean-Patrick Manchette
There's nothing better than a new literary crush, and Manchette has won my dark heart. Lean and mean and delectably absurd, the brutal scenes had me guffawing. Julie, unwieldy and tough, fresh out of the mental hospital, might be my favorite antiheroine ever. I loved it so much I read it twice.

Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life As a Ramone by Marky Ramone
I checked out Punk Rock Blitzkrieg after watching Marky Ramone spar Johnny Rotten during a very un-punk panel discussion. While his time as a Ramone was why I read it, my favorite chapters were about Richard Hell and the Voidoids and the NYC punk scene. But what truly knocked me out was his inspiring story about losing what matters most to find your higher self. Bonus: Hearing his NYC accent while reading adds a charming layer to his tales.


All Things Violent by Nikki Dolson
Staying true to the title, All Things Violent is a brutal, episodic novel featuring Laura, a crackerjack assassin who'll break your bones and your heart. Her fatal flaw is her unwavering love of her ex-boyfriend, who also happens to be her boss. Time after time, she battles bruisers and ruffians and somehow comes out on top. But she leaves you wondering just who she's trying to punish. 
 
Over Tumbled Graves by Jess Walter
I've been avoiding serial killer novels, but after reading Dead Girls by Alice Bolin, I checked out Over Tumbled Graves. Excellent writing and pacing — a real page-turner. I thought I'd solved the case early on, but the final twist proved I wasn't completely on-track. 

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Rereading a book is an indulgence, especially when there's a menacing character like Merricat Blackwood, whose rituals, sorcery, and superstitions amplify the terror of a disturbing childhood. While Merricat's words and schemes betray her deadly heart, Constance's obsession with cooking and cleaning is also genuinely frightening. Outside of the Blackwood’s twisted family dynamics, Jackson tackles class struggle, with the Blackwood's snobbery being avenged by a vulgar village mob. Jackson is just simply one of the best. 




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Forgiveness Doesn't Fix It

In 2020, my major crisis wasn’t the virus, the tornado that damaged my kid’s school, or even the suicide bombing that occurred just a few miles from my house. It was the collapse of my marriage.  Friends have asked me if I thought our relationship would have survived if there wasn’t a pandemic. I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe the rhythm of work, school, and our kid’s extracurricular activities would have swept us along, and we wouldn’t have stared at each other’s faults for days on end. But our marriage began to dismantle years ago. Like many couples, we went through a trying time where our vows were put to the test. But our young kids’ wellbeing outweighed the grievances, so we toughed it out and stayed together.  Still, I was hurt. Really hurt. But I had to figure out how to stay in the relationship without being devoured by anger, which was foreign to me. Throughout my life, I’ve always cut the cord — I never stayed friends with ex-lovers. I’ve walked away from lifelong friendships. I ha

The Day I Found Out

My fury softened when the fellow at the gas station carded me and said my silver hair was sexy as hell. Outside, my dog waited in the car, her head out the window, her eyes tracking me. We sped to a favorite trail, the one by the river that ferried boats and barges, and sometimes kayaks, in the sluggish, muddy water.  I let her out of the car, and as she ran ahead, I cracked open the beer with a satisfying hiss. I took a long pull and realized I could down it in one go but started walking instead. I had to find the dog. Just around the bend, she was sniffing the ground in front of a runner, staying out of his way, but still, he gave me a hard look. I tipped my beer to him and took another drink, meeting his scowl with indifference. Indifference always wins.  We turned onto a side trail, quiet and less traveled, where the dog bolted, her paws pounding the ground as she sprinted out of sight. I didn’t worry. I knew she’d come back.  But there in the hazy shadows, it hit me — the latent s

The Last Taxi Driver | Lee Durkee

What do the Buddha and Bill Hicks have in common? Ask Lucky Gun Lou, the Mississippi cab driver in Lee Durkee’s dark and hilarious novel The Last Taxi Driver.   Lou suffers psychotic breaks, has spiritual aspirations, and wrestles with bitterness but aims for kindness when dealing with impossible and highly comedic situations. And though he’s often agitated, his innate sweetness shapes a compassionate view of a marginalized and often criminal society and makes him an endearing character.  His opinion of Noir at the Bar should be taken seriously, too. Lou also shares some sage driving advice. Don’t tap your brakes when somebody starts tailgating you. It’s tempting, but it can backfire. Also don’t flip him off, not yet. First try this: pretend to adjust your rearview, so that the asshole knows he has your attention. Then suddenly wave to him and smile as if you are excited to see him. This will make him worry that he knows you, and instantly he will feel like the dick he is and