Sunday, November 27, 2022

#40: Space Invaders by Nona Fernández

 As the Pinochet era in Chile winds to a close, a group of young friends think about the mysterious loss of a classmate in Nona Fernandez's Space Invaders.  

I've read several novels that take place in Chile during its dictatorship and disappearances, but Fernandez brings a more baroque, dreamy storytelling in stark contrast to the terrors of that era.

Knowing a little of the history of this period definitely makes the novel unsettling when you can read between the lines of a disappearance told through the perspectives of various children.

A solid, slender read and recommended for those who appreciate literature of this kind.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

#39: Patricia Wants to Cuddle by Samantha Allen

The four finalists from a dating show are wrapping up production on a remote island, not realizing the island's dark history, in Samantha Allen's Patricia Wants to Cuddle.

The Patricia of the title is not one of the contestants (from a Bachelor-type show), but a female sasquatch who has an intimate connection to the vacation town built there.

A pretty wild mash-up of reality television, sexual politics, and creeping horror, Allen has created a one-of-a-kind novel that transcends multiple genre boundaries.

Recommended to any reader who wants to read something fresh and original.  Interested to see more from Allen.

I got this from the Henry County-New Castle Public Library in New Castle, Indiana and read it quickly.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

#38: Trail 3 South by Glenn Murrell

A young man from a poor background in a frontier town wants nothing more than to be a Wells Fargo driver; but when he gets a chance he is robbed the first time out, leading him on a danger-filled trail to recover the loot in Glenn Murrell's Trail 3 South.

This seeming country bumpkin has secretly been honing his formidable gunfighting skills, leading to several surprises along the way.  He matches wits with a deadly outlaw gang as well as stands against the prejudices of the town.

I was happy to find out this Cleveland Western was written by Leonard Meares, possibly best known as "Marshall Grover," the author of two top-flight western series, "Nevada Jim" and "Larry and Streak."

Nevada Jim is a hard-nosed gun-hand with his own code, and Larry and Streak are a pair of laconic cowpokes with lightning-fast gun skills but a very easy-going attitude.  The first is pretty sober and the second runs more to comedy, with this non-series entry landing somewhere in between.

I think Meares is one of the better writers in the prolific Cleveland stable, as this entry is more expansive in storytelling, and the characters more colorful, than in some of the offerings.

I got this in a big lot of Cleveland Westerns and read it quickly.

Friday, November 18, 2022

#37: Hello, Molly! by Molly Shannon

Saturday Night Live's Molly Shannon started from humble, frequently tragic roots in Cleveland, but remains sunny on her rise to stardom, in her autobiography Hello Molly!

Her father kills her mother and other family members in a car accident when Shannon is a child, which sets the stage for a difficult relationship from then on.  Even in good times, her father's oversized personality, alcohol consumption, and secretive private life wreak havoc on Shannon's ambitions.

I listened to the audiobook version, read by Shannon in rather cheery fashion, even as she described all of her childhood trauma as well as her youthful penchant for lying, stealing, and other petty crimes.

There's probably been a lot of therapy over the years to be able to portray it all so casually, but as a listener I was genuinely surprised by how revealing the portrayal of her family is.  Very interesting for those who have followed her career.

I listened to this audiobook on loan from the Henry County-New Castle Public Library in New Castle, Indiana.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

#36: Jury Seven by Brett Iverson

 A man comes back to a frontier town to claim his bride, only to find she has married another man; more inconveniently still, an outlaw gang trying to find a doctor for their wounded leader blows in and kidnaps her and some other women.  Now it's up to a ragtag bunch of townsmen and lawmen to rescue them in Brett Iverson's Jury Seven.

This is another fast-moving Cleveland Western I plucked off a stack and read on a camping trip, and it came to my surprise that this one was also written by Desmond Dunn (author of the "Gunn Halliday" novel I just finished).  Dunn was one of those hard-working pulpsters who cranked and cranked Westerns and detective novels for the apparently hungry Australian reader.

The "Jury Seven" of the title are seven men who decide to risk their lives raiding a courthouse where the outlaw gang--currently feuding as their leader lies dying--is holed up with the town's wives and daughters.  There are a couple of tough lawmen--also feuding--a reluctant gun-hand, and, as in many westerns, a coward who becomes a man when he has to.

It's a lot of plotting for a pretty slender western, but Iverson keeps the plot gears all meshing and throws in vivid characters.

Really enjoying Desmond Dunn under his various names and will look for more of his work.