“Tonstant Weader fwowed up,” wrote Dorothy Parker after reading Winnie the Pooh. She had it easy. For the innocent of heart,...
Sure, Larry McMurtry’s got his own book town in Texas, and then there’s Sedbergh and Hay-on-Wye over England way. But none of them can compare to the setting of Moers’s (Rumo and His Miraculous Adventures, 2006, etc.) semifabulous tale of treasures hidden.
Those with no patience for the syrupy, who eschew easy puns, who upchuck when Paolo Coelho’s name comes up, are warned forthwith. German novelist Moers puts Tolkien through some sort of Willy Wonka sweetening process and comes up with characters such as Optimus Yarnspinner, who, names being fate and all, just has to be a storyteller, a gloriously esteemed trade over in the magical land of Zamonia. Op’s pop’s pal, Uncle Dancelot, is “more of a connoisseur of literature than an originator thereof,” even though he’s gone out to lunch for decades on the strength of his sole book, The Joys of Gardening. Dancelot has discovered the most wonderful manuscript in all the land and has gone all Svengali-like (or maybe Entrekin-esque) over the prospects of bringing its glories to the world. But then, zounds, old Dancelot takes a dirt nap and Optimus is left with the manuscript, which puts him in “a state of feverish exuberance after only a few paragraphs.” What’s an entrepreneur to do? Well, head for Bookholm, where booksellers and publishers abound, the former peddling books that are “neither truly alive nor truly dead but located in an intermediate limbo akin to sleep.” In this altogether bookish and symbolism-choked place, Optimus learns valuable lessons, such as how to keep clear of big bad Pfistomel Smyke and the voracious Bookhunters while absorbing useful lessons in literature and life from the likes of the Homuncolossus, who instructs our young charge that the only reason he hasn’t produced publishable work himself is that he’s “writing with the wrong paw.” Q.E.D.“Tonstant Weader fwowed up,” wrote Dorothy Parker after reading Winnie the Pooh. She had it easy. For the innocent of heart, unsullied by taste.
Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007
Page Count: 464
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2007
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by Max Brooks ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 16, 2020
A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).
A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.
Pub Date: June 16, 2020
Page Count: 304
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine
Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020
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BOOK TO SCREEN
by Blake Crouch ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 26, 2016
Suspenseful, frightening, and sometimes poignant—provided the reader has a generously willing suspension of disbelief.
A man walks out of a bar and his life becomes a kaleidoscope of altered states in this science-fiction thriller.
Crouch opens on a family in a warm, resonant domestic moment with three well-developed characters. At home in Chicago’s Logan Square, Jason Dessen dices an onion while his wife, Daniela, sips wine and chats on the phone. Their son, Charlie, an appealing 15-year-old, sketches on a pad. Still, an undertone of regret hovers over the couple, a preoccupation with roads not taken, a theme the book will literally explore, in multifarious ways. To start, both Jason and Daniela abandoned careers that might have soared, Jason as a physicist, Daniela as an artist. When Charlie was born, he suffered a major illness. Jason was forced to abandon promising research to teach undergraduates at a small college. Daniela turned from having gallery shows to teaching private art lessons to middle school students. On this bracing October evening, Jason visits a local bar to pay homage to Ryan Holder, a former college roommate who just received a major award for his work in neuroscience, an honor that rankles Jason, who, Ryan says, gave up on his career. Smarting from the comment, Jason suffers “a sucker punch” as he heads home that leaves him “standing on the precipice.” From behind Jason, a man with a “ghost white” face, “red, pursed lips," and "horrifying eyes” points a gun at Jason and forces him to drive an SUV, following preset navigational directions. At their destination, the abductor forces Jason to strip naked, beats him, then leads him into a vast, abandoned power plant. Here, Jason meets men and women who insist they want to help him. Attempting to escape, Jason opens a door that leads him into a series of dark, strange, yet eerily familiar encounters that sometimes strain credibility, especially in the tale's final moments.Suspenseful, frightening, and sometimes poignant—provided the reader has a generously willing suspension of disbelief.
Pub Date: July 26, 2016
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016
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