Skip to main content

Posts

Dreamlives of Debris by Lance Olsen

Dreamlives of Debris

Lance Olsen (Dzanc Books 2017, Trade Paperback) 296 pages, $22.95 cover price

Here is the problem and it is such a large one in that I am not at all sure I can overcome it. I'm not at all sure that I can review, summarize, analyze or otherwise tantalize you in words and sentences composed around the subject of Dreamlives of Debris without your wrongly inferring that it is an intimidating highbrow piece of niche literature that requires you to pack a library in your backpack and hire a deconstructionist both long-winded and wise as your guide before opening this sort-of novel/sort-of meditation to page one. Damn. So instead let's start with something rather less intimidating:
Dreamlives of Debris by Lance Olsen is great fun.
And I mean that most sincerely.
Bearing that sort of reverse caveat in mind, let's get down to business here. Dreamlives of Debris takes the legend of the Minotaur and the Labyrinth as a narrative navigational aid; something the reader k…
Recent posts

The Chosen Maiden by Eva Stachniak

The Chosen Maiden


Eva Stachniak (Doubleday Canada 2017, Trade Paperback) 412 pages, $18 cover price

There's a thought with which I have amused myself while choosing how to compose this review. Virtually every novel you've ever read is an historical novel. The only exceptions I can think of are speculative or future-set science fiction, or romping through the woods and fields with anthropomorphic animals (and even then, there's Animal Farm). Dickens and Defoe, Melville and Marquez, Jameses prefaced or suffixed with Henry or James, all are historical writers regardless of whether or not they intended it at the time. It's all about the reader's perspective and not the writer's. Even if the author was faithfully recording the scene outside his window, describing in aching detail the lunch menu of that little café just down the street – you know, the one with the Campari umbrellas – that scene and everyone in it is either long since or soon to be dead and that café wa…

Brussels Noir

Brussels Noir
Various Authors (Akashic Books 2016, Trade Paperback) 284 pages, $15.95 cover price
I actually had what is for me an original thought, although perhaps it is old news to the rest of you. It occurs to me that the great nations of the world, the ones whose internal or external intrigues are guaranteed global headlines, all seem to have a neighbour that serves the role of awkward younger sibling. I've lived in two of them. Believe me, I get tired of two questions: people over here in Ireland thinking that my stubbornly persisting Canadian accent is American, and friends back in Canada asking if I get over to London much these days. (Mind you, I've done the same sort of thing as I've been fond of describing Dublin as a pocket-sized London.) Russia has Ukraine, although that is an absolutely tragic family feud and Germany has Austria in a role reversal from their places in the eighteenth century. And then of course there is France and Belgium, the latter of which is…

Saratoga Payback by Stephen Dobyns

Saratoga Payback

Stephen Dobyns (Blue Rider Press 2017, Hard Cover) 368 pages, $27 cover price

The feeling was much like supposedly meeting someone for the first time and then soon realizing that actually you'd gone to high school with them. Was it physics or phys ed? Did we get along or were there Unfortunate Incidents at the Lockers? As I've mentioned before, as a reviewer I've always depended on the kindness of publicists. Thus, it was suggested to me as we were making arrangements to review Dark Mercy that Blue Rider Press could, if it wasn't an imposition, add Stephen Dobyns' Saratoga Payback to the envelope. Evidently I agreed, as here we are with your reading a review of the latter. In fact, I believe my exact words were, 'Sure, who doesn't love a good mystery?'After I'd read perhaps five pages it dawned on me that I had indeed read one of Dobyns' Charlie Bradshaw Mysteries absolute eons ago. My memory of that book – whatever its title was …

Cruel Mercy by David Mark

Cruel Mercy

David Mark (blue rider press 2017, Trade Paperback) 368 pages, $27 cover price
The murder mystery and its downtown cousin the crime novel are very much the Italian restaurants of the literary world. Those dining establishments with their checkered tablecloths and Chianti bottles turned to candlesticks are the most popular regional cuisine restaurants in the world. (Please don't call a McDonald's a 'restaurant.' We don't tolerate that sort of crude language in these parts.) Statistics for literary genres are difficult to find – you'll find the nuclear codes tucked inside a fortune cookie before a publisher will readily cough up its numbers – yet the consensus opinion ( see: http://ebookfriendly.com/most-popular-book-genres-infographic/ ) places mysteries at roughly 11% of all books sold. That may lag behind Classic Fiction and Modern Literary Fiction at 13% and 16% respectively, however The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Crime and Punishment crash the firs…

Red Ribbons by Louise Phillips

Red Ribbons

Louise Phillips (Polis Books 2016, Trade Paperback) 360 pages, $16 cover price
It absolutely delights me that Polis Books has released the first US edition of Louise Phillips' Red Ribbons. Phillips is Ireland's finest mystery writer and Red Ribbons marked the first appearance of her criminal psychologist Kate Pearson, however my enjoyment of the occasion is not so much for the writer or for that matter our moss-covered island as it is for entirely selfish reasons. You see, the one downside of a career as a regular book reviewer is that one never gets to read the back catalogue of anyone. Friends and readers alike (they occasionally overlap too) are forever suggesting books that I would simply love; books that were published in 2006, 1953 or 1832. So sorry darling, I simply don't have the time. You may as well ask me to taste the Waldorf Salad you ate three years ago. A first international edition though, well that gives me a good enough excuse to move forward int…

Dumbass Too: Forty Years of Quotes From Donald J Trump: The World’s Most Dangerous Mouth

Dumbass Too:Forty Years of Quotes From Donald J Trump:The World’s Most Dangerous Mouth


Jules Carlysle (Ampersand Ink 2017, Trade Paperback and ebook) 407 pages

Jesus. Four hundred and seven pages of Donald Trump quotes. This is a terrible book to bring out so soon after New Year's as anyone who has resolved to lose weight, quit smoking, ease back on the booze or do anything else possibly life-lengthening will, after reading all this word spew burn down their nearest gym, tear the filters off a pack of Marlies, chug down a quart of Wild Turkey and seriously consider that what Keith Richards knows about heroin may well be a lesson worth learning. Look at it this way – if all that doesn't kill you it may at least put you in a coma for the next four or God help us all eight years. You may assume from that paragraph that I'm Not a Fan and you'd be right. Well, just to define that a bit further, I'm not a fan of the orange-dyed psychopath soon to be inaugurated as the 45th…