I recently read “The Flame Alphabet” by Ben Marcus. The book looks great, the title is good, and the premise (the language of children has become toxic) got me on a bus in search of it. Additionally, it has Big Names (Chabon, Sfran Foer) on the back pumping the book’s Awesomeness. And there is some awesomeness to the book–there’s a lot of great descriptions and the quality of writing is A+. There’s just…too much of it. And nothing really happens.
There are comprehensive (uncomfortable) reviews already out there, so I won’t go on, but reading “The Flame Alphabet” got me thinking of all the really great books I’ve read lately.
Here (in the order they came to me) are a few:
1. The Sisters Brothers ~ Patrick deWitt
A Western that doesn’t go where you expect it. Dark, funny, and surreal. A book that inspires writing (read: I wish I wrote this)
2. Breath ~ Tim Winton
I’ve admired Tim Winton’s prose since discovering his short stories “The Turning”, and while his stories seem well-knit I haven’t always loved the structure to his novels. This one, though, was fab: a lesson in retrospective.
3. The Golden Mean ~ Annabel Lyon
A novel about Aristotle, this book convinced me to try first person point of view (thank-you, Annabel.)
4. Civilwarland in Bad Decline ~ George Saunders
Bleak, funny, heartful; classic Saunders plus ghosts.