A genius baby is born to a Maine family with an alcoholic mother and a cocaine-addict older son, but the kicker is that the baby knows that a stray comet’s going to destroy the world in 2010. The novel goes in wildly varied directions from here using different narrators and styles, with no two sections alike and plenty of black humor. The second-person sections take some getting used to but add an otherworldly flair that becomes essential plot-wise, resulting in a thoughtful meditation on what it means to enjoy life and find meaning in the face of tragedy.
Fight Scenes is about growing up in the 1980s with your friend whose dad keeps naked pictures of women he’s slept with under his bed; it’s about dealing with bullies and looking at porn with girls you like and sitting in front of the 7-Eleven and smoking pot in the woods and fending off crazy racists at the local Popeye’s. Bottoms shows us these moments in a series of vignettes that all say more than they seem to at first glance, so that the book shows us both his ridiculous middle-school adventures and how fucked up life can be.
Where I Got It
A 2016 Christmas gift from the same friend who got me Rose of No Man’s Land, which is also pretty rad.
Fourteen-year-old Trisha has a hypochondriac mother, a sister who wants to be on The Real World, and not much else. Her new job at a teenybopper mall store leads her to Rose, a rebel who smokes and otherwise does what she wants, and together they set out on a late-night adventure through the sprawl of northeastern Massachusetts. Tea’s writing hums with crazy energy, sharp observations, and madcap scenes that leave you racing. This is a book about when everything was exciting and meant something, a book for those of us who play by our own rules. Read it.
Where I Got It:
Christmas gift from a friend who was like, “I’ve got a book for you.”
Michelle Tea’s website
DePietro’s collection covers forty years of interviews with British novelist and man of letters Kingsley Amis, who has a lot to say on the writing process, British politics, and the working-class hero in post-WWII fiction as he moves from card-carrying Communist party member to hardcore Thatcher supporter over the course of forty years. The collection also serves as a useful, expedited autobiography of Amis’s life (with his philandering only alluded to), but can be repetitive since Amis retells the same anecdotes over and over—how many times can we hear him deny being one of the Angry Young Men?
Where I Got It
Bought online a few weeks ago as part of research for the new novel.
1975 Interview with Amis for the Paris Review
Or, check out Amis’s first and most famous novel Lucky Jim instead