Pseudo-reviews of some of the books I have read recently...
The Zero by Jess Walter - This is the second Walter book I have read (the other being Citizen Vince). IMHO, The Zero is better. This book also happens to be the third 9/11 book I have read. I'd rank Ken Kalfus's A Disorder Peculiar to the Country higher than The Zero, but I'd place The Zero ahead of DeLillo's Falling Man, a novel I did not really like, though I admit it has moments of genius. The Zero is a kind of thriller, I suppose, and a sort of dark comedy with some noir thrown in. It'sa good summer read.
The Grifters by Jim Thomspon - Essential Jim Thompson.
The Elementary Particles by Michel Houellebecq - I loved Platform very much. This book?: not so much. Despite the graphic sex that should appeal to me, the book reads like a too-long essay on the social history of France told by way of biographies of two half brothers. The trouble is that the novel is unbelievably boring.
A Partisan's Daughter by Louis De Bernieres - I am a huge fan of this writer, but I hated this book.
Choke by Chuck Palahniuk - I really wanted to like this book, but I didn't. I mean, it's OK, and it's certainly not terrible. If you removed the sex parts, though, you would be left with an unreadable book. I'd really hate to use the word stupid to describe this book, but I might have to.
The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall - I imagine that if the publisher packaged this book as a mass market paperback and placed it at the checkout at supermarkets, it would sell quite a few copies. I fail to understand why this book is being referred to as literary. I just don't see that. It's a quirky sort of book that is not challenging to read. Literary it is not. It might pass for good. It's not brilliant.
Ratner's Star by Don DeLillo - I'm a big fan of DeLillo. I've loved everything I had read, except for Falling Man, as I have already mentioned. This book is great, but a bit of a chore to get through. If you are a serious DeLillo fan, you will already have read it anyway.
Kockroach by Tyler Knox - Kockroach is sort of the reverse of Kafka's Metamorphosis. Imagine a cockroach turning into a man who gets involved in organized crime. It's a fun read.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon - The idea behind this novel is fascinating and I enjoyed it at some level, but I would say that it shouldn't have been a novel. I really think that this book would have been better as a long short story or a novella. I think it was difficult for the author to sustain the story, or maybe I simply tired of it.
The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs by Irvine Welsh - I suppose this is a modern twist The Picture of Dorian Gray. It's thoroughly enjoyable, but you have to accept the crazy supernatural concept.
Leading the Cheers by Justin Cartwright - Not bad, but Justin has done better. White Lightning, for example, is better.
Señor Vivo and the Coca Lord by Louis De Bernieres - Awesome. This is book two in the Latin American trilogy. Book three is waiting for me. De Bernieres is a talented writer and he has a gift for comedy and political satire.