Monday, August 26, 2013

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

This thought provoking novel explores the bonds between humans and animals.  It's about family and loss and how each member deals with that loss.  It's funny and intriguing and really hard to review without giving too much of it away, as the joy is in peeling back the layers slowly and savoring all that is revealed.  So, let me just give you the bare bones synopsis and urge you to just give it a try.

Meet the Cooke family. Our narrator is Rosemary Cooke. As a child, she never stopped talking; as a young woman, she has wrapped herself in silence: the silence of intentional forgetting, of protective cover. Something happened, something so awful she has buried it in the recesses of her mind.

Now her adored older brother is a fugitive, wanted by the FBI for domestic terrorism. And her once lively mother is a shell of her former self, her clever and imperious father now a distant, brooding man.

And Fern, Rosemary’s beloved sister, her accomplice in all their childhood mischief? Fern’s is a fate the family, in all their innocence, could never have imagined.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Horns by Joe Hill

Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things.  He woke up the next morning with a thunderous hangover, a raging headache...and a pair of horns growing from his temples.  At first, he thinks he's hallucinating; because after all he has spent the last year in a private hell after the death of his girlfriend--Merrin Williams--who was raped and murdered under horrible circumstances.  The only suspect in the crime, Ig was never charged or tried--and he was never cleared--and a lot of people still believe he did it.  So it would be a natural progression to experience a mental breakdown after going through all that.  But, it turns out, they are all too real.  And they seem to have a strange power--when he talks to people, they don't recoil at them, but they do fall into trances and voice their most unspeakable thoughts.  He intends to use this talent to find the monster who killed Merrin and destroyed his life.

This is the premise of Joe Hill's book, Horns.  And what a fascinating book it is.  It is filled with pop culture references that are hilarious (I don't want to take away any of their power by mentioning them here (just enjoy them), theological debate (you can tell he has probably had many heated discussions with his sister Naomi a Unitarian minister), and impassioned romance (the letter written to him from Merrin that Ig finds at the end of the book is so powerfully written it will take your breath away and break your heart).

And guess who is set to star as Ignatius Perrish in the movie version of the book?

Why, Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame, of course. 

Oh yes, there are lots of musical pop culture references too.  I'll close with this one above, which you will understand when you read the book.  And in the Acknowledgments, Notes, and Confessions section at the end of the book Hill mentions a book his sister recommended he read, and you may want to read it too: [God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question--Why We Suffer by Bart Ehrman].  Because if you want to be on the side of the angels, you need all the ammunition you can get. 
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