D’Onofrio’s novels take place in fictitious Aviario, Connecticut, a town where the underground lines of magic intersect and supernatural happenings abound. This second book in the series revolves around a string of murders, a demon that haunts one of the town’s oldest families, and a romance that everyone except the main character thinks is a bad idea. The story’s real energy, however, comes from its twentysomething cast of characters who read tarot cards, run a magic shop, play table-top games, and never fail to talk like real people, making the whole novel feel decidedly current (spirit animals notwithstanding).
This 600-page tome from the McSweeney’s journal packs a hard punch—not just because of how much they’ve crammed inside, but because the writing is straight-up good. There’s a comics section, a play starring three cavemen, an account of a NASCAR weekend by a man who knows nothing about racing, a list of facts about Spokane, Washington, two stories based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s notebooks, and a scattering of 20-minute fiction. Extra points go to the fine design: the dustjacket folds out into a poster and the bonus materials include a box of postcards and colorful booklets.
An indie novel about twentysomething punk squatters in New York City in the ‘90s—where do I sign? I was really excited to read this book but was disappointed by the plot (which does a fair amount of wandering), the characters (which, apart from the coolheaded but hasn’t-found-her-place-yet narrator, never quite stand out), and some lackluster scenes. What Wakefield does really well instead, though, is show the hazards of Brooklyn squatting life (which is a lot more organized than I’d imagined) by capturing the mechanics of garbage disposal and squatters’ rights in ways that feel intricate and real.
Where I Got It
Bought new at Quimby’s bookstore in Chicago while on a trip, Summer 2015.
Nick Hornby writes with down-to-earth honesty, and this second collection of Stuff I’ve Been Reading essays (which partially inspired this book blog) for The Believer is no exception. Its most poignant moment comes in the preface, where he encourages people to actually read books they enjoy and to not read certain books just because they seem important: “Please, if you’re reading a book that’s killing you, put it down and read something else, just as you would reach for the remote if you weren’t enjoying a TV program.” Books should be fun, so let’s keep them that way.
Where I Got It
Christmas gift, 2014, along with Nick Hornby’s two other collections of book essays (one of which still remains in the stack…).