Sweet Tastes

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Two authors whose previous novels were celebrated by the now-defunct Litblog Co-op have outdone themselves with their next books. I've read galleys of both Katharine Weber's True Confections and Sam Savage's The Cry of the Sloth and I'm happy to report that readers have a lot to look forward to in both cases.

Katharine Weber's last novel Triangle was about an industrial fire, a subject so stark it made her comic sensibility hard to catch (though, certainly, it was there). Her new novel is about a screwed-up family that owns a small candy empire, and it's a slender tour de force. I will be writing more about this book soon, and till then here's a side-product of Weber's research: an article in Tablet (formerly Nextbook) about Jewish families in the candy business.

Sam Savage, meanwhile, wrote a novel called Firmin that didn't break through in his home country but became a bestseller in Italy. Firmin was about a literary rat who suffers in loneliness, and new soon-to-be-released The Cry of the Sloth is about a literary human who suffers in loneliness. I will be writing more about this delightful and surprising book too.

On a different front, meanwhile, news has just come down that the Queens rapper Q-Tip (of A Tribe Called Quest) is writing a book about his life. I have very high hopes for this one. Q-Tip has been a brainy and sensitive lyricist from Description of a Fool to Stir It Up (he's also the only hip-hop artist I bother to continue to follow on twitter). I'm looking forward to reading his entire story, and I hope there's a lot about his friendship and collaboration with the equally talented Phife Dawg.

What else am I looking forward to? Sure, what the hell, I'm going to read the new Dan Brown novel The Lost Symbol when it comes out. Dan Brown is no Katharine Weber or Sam Savage ... but Da Vinci Code kept me going till the end, and I'm intrigued by the new book's Washington D.C. locale.

I like everything Jonathan Ames does, though I don't think he's ever equaled Wake Up Sir!, his perfect homage to P. G. Wodehouse. His new essay collection The Double Life is Twice as Good didn't win the approval of Carolyn Kellogg, but I bet his new HBO tv show Bored to Death will be more exciting.

Jag Bhalla's I'm Not Hanging Noodles On Your Ears and Other Intriguing Idioms From Around The World looks like a fun read.

Sue William Silverman's Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir is reminding me to work on my own memoir, which will probably pick up again next week. I've enjoyed the break, but it's time to get back to work.

And if you aren't interested in any of these good books but just want to relish the joys of really bad (funny bad) books of the past, go to the Awful Library Books blog and have a feast.
11 Responses to "Sweet Tastes"

by Muzzy on

"Da Vinci Code" kept you going to the end? How did you ever get past the evil albino on page two?

by Levi Asher on

The evil albino was the best character!

I liked Firmin and I'm looking forward to The Cry of the Sloth.

by Bud Parr on

I know I sound like a snob, but if you're reading Dan Brown you have much too much time on your hands!

Glad to hear Sam Savage has another tome coming out. When I was in Rome I tried to buy a copy of Firmin in Italian, but the shop at the train station was sold out! He's huge in Italy.

by dlt on

Read CS Lewis, not Dan Brown. I read neither

I'm halfway through THE CRY OF THE SLOTH, and I'm really enjoying it right now -- perhaps because I can relate to the impoverished antagonist and perhaps because I tend to send a lot of odd emails close to the epistolary format.

As for Dan Brown-bashing, well, I'm certainly not a fan. But, folks, it IS possible to get people reading better books through Dan Brown. And it is sometimes important to read books that "regular people" read from time to time. I remember that David Foster Wallace was a fan of Tom Clancy precisely for this reason, because he was very much enamored of how Clancy was able to explain intricate concepts.

Sometimes, if you pack away your snobbery and actually listen to WHY people read certain books, you can generally help someone to funnel their enthusiasm for, say, Dan Brown or Stephenie Meyer into a book of better quality. The last thing the world needs are more literary snobs. (This does not, however, mean that you can't have your own personal standards, but you really don't have to be an asshole about it. If reading is about having access to another person's ideas or an alternative perspective, then surely the "alternative" perspective of a bestselling author you're not familiar is worth sampling from time to time.)

I stopped by BookCourt last night to take in Jonathan's ribbon cutting. He's no longer interesting to me as a literary figure (hasn't been since Wake Up, Sir!), but as a survivor in the concrete jungle he has a story to tell, told in his own brand of minstrelsy. I'm very happy for him that he's making this transition to television and wish him well in the new form. I endured his performance of the "hairy call" (which is, let's face it, repulsive) to get to the knife throwing. He's a brave man. Those knives were big and sharp and Throwdini was not playing Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey, though he did give off the kiddie birthday party entertainer vibe. Thank God he was sober and didn't hurt Jonathan. Within seconds, Jonathan put his jacket back on and began the reading. I cut out at the first mention of the word "buttocks" which even in Jonathan's practiced ingratiating delivery (he's cornered the market)I found grating. All in all, mostly because of his laid back courage and physical prowess (he keeps himself trim and fit), I was not exactly BTD. Got my money's worth.

by dlt on

I'm no fan of Tom Clancy. He uses too many words

by Kat Warren on

I just finished the ARC of Weber's "True Confections" and am hot to read it all over again, it's that good. I expect it to be not only a hit but controversial, too.

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