Even if you didn’t read the recent Time magazine cover story, you may have noticed one of the seemingly hundreds of articles and blog postings praising the work of Jonathan Franzen and salivating over the release of his latest novel. Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections is considered by many to be the best work of fiction produced in the last decade. Fans of Franzen's were provided a collection of essays in 2002 and a memoir in 2006, but waited expectantly for his next novel, hoping that it might provide the same humor, pain, and pathos as his previous novel had. Today, the wait is over. Nine years after penning his Corrections, Franzen has written Freedom, and it is as rich and rewarding as anything he has ever done; the characters are fully realized, the backdrop is perfectly captured, and the story is playful and sad, as heartbreaking as it is hopeful.
Good news dear readers! Our trusted man, E.D Williams has once again stared into the abyss and returned with a rollicking and invigorating post. Now into our third installment, E.D. battles against the dull blade of summer with only his pen and wits to protect him. Enjoy his prose thoroughly, but remember, Williams is a trained professional - any injuries or fatalities incurred during your attempts at mimicry have no legal recourse with this fine online publication. With that said, I give you....E.D. Williams: The rolly pollies are rolling in their graves. The banana spiders have grown as thick as a milk maid's wrist and the mosquitoes are blood drunk and buzzing. Butterflies are liars and anyone worth their weight in Bacillus Thuringiensis knew them from before as very hungry caterpillars. This is summer in the garden of sweat and swelter; the throes of the heat index, if you will. Hello again. I'm Engle Dale Williams and more so than any book, I would recommend a stiff drink and a deep woods insect repellent. It's only practical. But enough of all this rigamarole. Let's reminisce.
True Grit is one of those books I've been meaning to read for years. Authors I love, like George Pelecanos, have sung its praises and my fellow employees have raved about it. I grew up on the John Wayne movie and would hear the famed line, "Fill your hands, you son of a bitch!" almost every Saturday night at whatever Missouri bar I was in. Even when my manager loaned me his copy, I let it sit on my table for over a year and a half.
It wasn’t the mad dash for Rick Riodan’s new book The Red Pyramid. Not even Anthony Bourdain, the sizzling chef himself, that brought down the house. Nay! An electrical fire is being blamed for the flame and water ‘splosion that sent customers and staff alike to the parking lot while BookPeople manager and local hero John Turner put out the flames.
Self-deprecation is important. It’s especially important in the book business. There’s a funny website making its way around the literary blogs, Better Book Titles (http://betterbooktitles.com/). The idea is simple, Dan Wilbur is gonna change the titles of some of our favorite books so that we can tell what the book is really about by the title alone. Great! Here is a list of my favorites:
Top 5 Reasons (book wise) To Be Excited For Fall Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. Franzen fans (like myself) have long awaited a follow-up to his brilliant 2001 novel, The Corrections. The ways in which he wrote about family, with all its joy and pain and angst and anger, captured the hearts and minds of many a reader and the praise of many a critic. I am one of those who counts it among the best fiction of the past decade. But the questioned remained; can he do it again? I am here to tell you, he can and he did. Freedom touches upon similar themes, but creates an entirely new cast of characters, as fully realized and alive as those he imagined almost 10 years ago. I cannot wait to sell you this book. You cannot wait to buy it. Trust me.
Boy oh boy, there’s nothing I love more than incensed bibliophiles. The most recent offender? Anis Shivani at the Huffington Post, who wrote a petty, pithy little thing called The 15 Most Overrated Contemporary American Writers. His article might be startlingly inaccurate and small-minded and ill-conceived, but it’s generated a fair amount of buzz in the tiny world of literary fiction since it appeared over the weekend. That’s 1,639 comments on the article at last count, most not worth reading, and several outraged and reasoned responses across the web.