Book Review: ‘1Q84’ by Haruki Murakami

The first thing you need to know about Haruki Murakami’s hefty slab of a novel1Q84 is that it sizzles. Seriously. Pick it up off the display at your local bookstore. It’s like 5 pounds and it’s wrapped in this higher-test version of cloudy tissue paper and there must be an electric power source, a fork in an outlet, something, coursing through this thing. At the very least, magnets. Touch it. You’ll see.

The story centers on Aomame, a sleek and level-headed assassin slash physical trainer, whose world shifts a little to the left after she climbs down a super-secret ladder during a traffic jam on an expressway. She’s late for a date involving a sharp weapon, an abusive businessman, and a discrete spot on the back of his neck.

The cab driver who alerts her to this exit warns her that if she takes this route off the expressway, not to be surprised if the world changes. Sure enough, she starts noticing subtle differences right away and begins referring to the year formerly known as 1984 as 1Q84. When Aomame isn’t stealthily killing bad men or tweaking people’s muscles into sweaty submission she likes to dress in her one remotely sexy outfit and get nuts with anonymous balding men in hotel rooms. Occasionally this involves a tag-team effort with her new friend, a bi-sexual female cop.

At the same time Tengo is a solid writer whose work lacks that certain something. His all-knowing editor comes to him with a proposition: He has discovered a 17-year-old girl with a great story, “Air Chrysalis.” Fuka-Eri just needs someone solid to re-write it and she has the potential to become a bestselling sensation — as long as no one outside the inner circle ever finds out the truth about the ghost re-write. This solitary math teacher by day, writer by night reluctantly takes the job. The book becomes a hit, but it unleashes a hoard of mysterious troll-sized critters with a pretty serious religious affiliation.

The second thing you should know is that 1Q84 has that signature Murakami-ness to it that makes it feel like he is this wordy puppeteer who blurs the landscape into something dreamy so everything feels like you’re still awake, but not awake enough to know that, I don’t know, your second grade teacher wearing a Superman costume? Or in this case, the world doesn’t have two moons. It feels enough like Wind-Up Bird Chronicle for a reader to know that these two books have the same birth father.

It goes without saying when it comes to Murakami that there are plenty of places in this book to shelve your disbelief. The difference between him and other writers is that you don’t slam the book shut and say: REALLY, HARUKI?! These Shrinky Dink beings just crawled out of a dead goat’s mouth? Or REALLY, HARUKI? You’re going to convince me that this hulking, immobile pedophile is a misunderstood conduit of religious truth and that part of this sacredness involves his . . . boner? It only seems whack when you say it aloud.

You should also know that sometimes reading Murakami’s sex scenes feels a little clinical, but clinical in this way that is like your homeroom teacher saying the word “genitalia” multiple times in a really long drawn out way.

This book is long. It’s divided into three sections and the first two slide by seamlessly, but the third is an alright-already-old-man, get-on-with-it that includes some nonessential subplots, repetition, and some almost-coincidences that are a frustration because of all the actual coincidences we’ve signed on for. It’s a little sitcom-y in the style of: one character walks into a bar looking for a character who has just left through the back door, times, like, 100. At the same time, it never settles into a boring sputter, so. Anyway, fun read.

This review was originally posted on December 27, 2011, on Minnesota Reads.

Book Review: ‘Sophie’s Choice’ by William Styron

In August I read an essay by Alexandra Styron that partly recounted the first time she tried to read her father’s most famous work. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron was still in galley form, and I suppose, symbolically, so was she. Alexandra made it about as far as the narrator’s erotic dream before she worried about barfing on her loafers. Then, despite the hullabaloo that surrounded the movie and the fact that she, herself, became a writer, she didn’t double back until she was in her 30s and curious about the man she remembers as less hands on and more Great Male Artist.

In reading it, she meets young Stingo, the young writer her father was when he first moved to Brooklyn in the 1940s.

“The experience was, well, death-defying. Thrilling and nausea-inducing and I communed with my father in the full bloom of youth. Not Stingo, but Daddy, so vivid and living so close I felt I could turn around and touch him back through the years.”

And that’s how a writer I’d never heard of sold me on reading a book I’d only heard of.

Sophie’s Choice stars Stingo, a reluctant virgin who has moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn with plans to write his debut novel. His first two experiences with his upstairs neighbors include a domestic bloodletting and a wicked ceiling shaker of a sex scene. He meets Sophie, a Polish immigrant with a tell-tale tattoo from time spent in a concentration camp — though she is not Jewish, and Nathan, who is. Nathan is also a commanding presence, smart and dramatic. Stingo falls in love with the former and craves affirmations from the latter. They become a friends-forever threesome, hanging out at the bar, traveling to Coney Island — when things are good. But Nathan is prone to sudden bursts of paranoid fury that always end in snot and tears. And when he darts out into the night, hurling insults and vowing its over between all of them, Stingo and Sophie nurse each other and talk about her chilling background.

Huge chunks of the book flash back to Auschwitz, where Sophie and her children are taken when she is discovered illegally carrying meat. She describes the sights, sounds, starvation, and smells — and the survival tactics that haunt her. Then Nathan will cool down, return to the scene, and everything is like Paris in the 20s all over again.

The characters are so complete, between the balance of likability and flaw. Stingo is naive and a people-pleaser, guilty about his Southern upbringing. So resentful of his virginity that he goes from Mr. Nice Guy to a Chaffed Loin Jerk every time he feels like he has paid his dues at first base and is ready to take a lady to a grand slam land. Sophie is sad and the more she talks, the more Stingo realizes she has actually told him less. She has a bare bones version of the truth. Then there is the truth. Then there is the whole, whole truth. The one that plagues her (and has become a metaphor for people who must choose between two impossible things). Nathan is just crazy. From day to day he might stir his friends into a frothy lather of happiness, or whip them into shells of their former selves, stripping them of any sense of self worth.

In one of my favorite parts of Alexandra Styron’s essay, she writes about answering the phone at her childhood home and taking messages from a series of accented women from around the country, each claiming to be Sophie.

This review was originally posted November 8, 2011, on Minnesota Reads.

Book Review: ‘Ready Player One’ by Ernest Cline

In my 1980s, video games did not even play a supporting role. We didn’t own Atari. My parent’s loathed fads, ‘it’ items. Things advertised between cartoons and things that made moms trample moms in the Toys R Us parking lot. Plus it was expensive. Addictive. An indoor sport. The first in a long line of begats: Atari begat Nintendo begat Marijuana begat Satanism.

Occasionally there was Pac Man. A local pizza parlour, owned by the then-mayor, had a decent game room. We would both get a single quarter to wait out our pie. First my brother ripped and jerked the joystick. Then, at the dizzy ‘Game Over’ spirals, he took my quarter and lost again. Back at home he drew me a detailed picture of a Pac Man board on loose leaf paper. Bite sized nuggets inside a maze with tiny jagged ghosts. Pac Man’s mouth open wide, paused with a look of a triumphant roar. My brother told me I could play with that. (Give me a break).

Ernest Cline’s novel Ready Player One, in all its geeky 1980s glory is a vision of 1980s pop culture — it’s not my vision of 80s pop culture and I did have to Google a few things related to Dungeons & Dragons.

The gist: All the world co-exists on OASIS a pretty realistic non-reality online world, multi-purposed as fun and educational. When the creator James Halliday dies, a contest is announced in which savvy gamers vie for his fortune. Finding Easter eggs he has hidden within OASIS. This hunt requires plenty of 1980s pop culture knowledge — for instance, being able to quote verbatim a character’s lines from an entire movie and being able to get a perfect score on Pac Man. Our hero is Wade Watts, who has little money and less family, but has spent his whole young life studying Halliday’s interests. He and his posse, including a bestie he’s never met IRL and a girl whose blog he has stalked, take on the evil corporate America to win the prize.

This story is a heckuva lot of fun, even without Jelly Shoes and Madonna. It’s boundary-less and inventive and the brain graphics are amazing.

Cline’s debut novel had me thinking a lot about my 1980s.

My 1980s had two rubber bracelets, linked connected ovals on my right wrist. Plain barrettes woven with alternate-colored ribbons that hung so long they hit my shoulders. White Keds, followed by red Keds, and denim Keds. Jeans decorated with thin white pinstripes.

‘I’ll never in my life not wear pinstripe jeans,’ I told my mom.
‘I don’t believe that’s true,’ she said.

In my 1980s I bought florescent pink Wet & Wild lipstick at Woolworth. I wore homemade shorts that hung to my knees, a starchy collage of busy designs. My hair was too fine to hold a perm or a plume of bang so I went hay-straight the ends turned under, bangs hard with spray yet barely made a fan.

In my 1980s, I listened to Madonna — but not ‘Like a Virgin,’ only her self-titled debut. My mom knew what ‘virgin’ meant, though I did not, and didn’t think it was appropriate. I listened to Tears for Fears, Wham!, Lionel Richie, and Phil Collins. Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. Debbie Gibson.

Some songs from the 1980s remind me of roller skating at Skate Country, where it was always dark and the lights made neon patterns on the smooth oval floor. Perfect for holding hands with a boy while listening to Journey, then skating to the snack bar for Laffy Taffy. Some songs remind me of roller skating in my basement, grey boom box plugged into the wall, skating in circles while Casey Kasem counted back the Top 40 hits of the week. Some songs remind me of rainy days on a school bus, the smell of rubber seats. And some rainy days remind me of kindergarten and the embarrassment of wearing a yellow slicker in public.

The ‘Footloose’ soundtrack, the ‘Top Gun’ soundtrack, the ‘Dirty Dancing’ soundtrack. Loverboy, Guns ‘n’ Roses, LL Cool J. In my 1980s, I took a short piece of historical fiction called ‘Paul Revere,’ plopped myself on a stool, and held it open for my classmates to see. I eschewed the actual words of the story in favor of ones written by the Beastie Boys:

‘Now. Here’s a little story, I’d like to tell,’ turned the page, ‘About three bad brothers, you know so well.’ Flip. ‘It started way back, in history, with Ad-Rock, MCA and me, MIKE D!’

In my 1980s I liked ‘Goonies.’ We watched ‘Stand By Me,’ rewinding and rewinding a part where an old man says ‘Loony, loony, loony’ and then we would cackle. I liked Wil Wheaton best. (Still do). I thought ‘Dirty Dancing’ was stupid, but watched it anyway at every slumber party I went to. Later we would crawl across the floor singing, ‘Sylvia? Yes, Mickey? How do you call your loverboy? Oh, loverboy. And if he doesn’t answer? C’MERE LOVERBOY.’ I liked both Coreys in ‘License to Drive,’ and thought Mercedes, with her thick chunks of blonde spiral, had the best hair in the world. The volleyball scene from ‘Top Gun’ set puberty in motion and ‘You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling’ would become a song I would never not know.

The only poem I’ve ever memorized, I memorized watching ‘The Outsiders.’

In my 1980s I most related to Mary Stuart Masterson. Denim shorts to her knees, drum sticks in hand. It was the unrequited-ness of her crush on Eric Stoltz’s character in ‘Some Kind of Wonderful.’ That moment when he practices kissing her.

‘Pretend I’m her, Amanda,’ she goads him. ‘I know it’s a stretch. But try it.’

His hands on her hips, morphing into claws as they turn up the heat. She realizes she’s a little too into it and pulls away.

‘You’re cool,’ she says.

In the 1980s I loved ‘Fame.’ Leroy, with his perky buns wrapped in tight grey sweatpants. I loved ‘The Young and the Restless.’ When it was over for the day, it was time to walk to kindergarten. This only became an issue when the storyline involved Nikki as a stripper. My favorite show became more real when Michael Damian, who played the rock star Danny Romalotti, had a real song on the real radio. ‘Rock On.’

I loved ‘Scooby Doo’ and its antithesis ‘Three’s Company.’ ‘Facts of Life,’ and ‘Silver Spoons.’ ‘Punky Brewster,’ the real-live show but not the cartoon. ‘Smurfs,” though.

Alex P. Keaton has always reminded me of my brother.

In my 1980s, I could moonwalk and do the worm, kind of, in a spastic seizing way. I had choreography for ‘Eye of the Tiger’ that I performed in the front yard and loved to scream ‘GHOSTBUSTERS!’ ‘I could do a back handspring, but not the splits. I could take a soccer ball and kick it in a way that it went over my head and landed in front of me. I had a T-shirt that said Orange Crush, I had a sweatsuit that said “Let’s Get Physical.” I had a two-toned baseball-style shirt that said “Totally Awesome” in glittery balloon letters.

I took the Pepsi Challenge, and picked Coke every time. I bought a copy of ‘The Get Him System,’ a self-published book about winning boys advertised in the back of a magazine. It didn’t work; I didn’t even try for the money-back guarantee.

I had an Esprit bag slung over my arm and kept my pencils in a LeSporte sac. My stuffed Garfield was dressed in a jogging outfit. I ripped photos of cute celebrity boys from magazines and hung them in a fort. The smell of paper when I matched my lips to Rob Lowe’s.

Where Cline’s novel has that glowing green tint of an old-school game of Pong, my lean was more Hubba Bubba pink with a side pony.

This review was originally posted on October 10, 2011, on Minnesota Reads. 

Book Review: ‘Visible Man’ by Chuck Klosterman

It’s obvious where Chuck Klosterman came up with the premise for his novel The Visible Man. Old Red Beard’s 2009 book of essays Eating the Dinosaur includes a chapter about watching through the window a twentysomething woman who lived in an efficiency apartment similar to his own in Fargo. Making dinner, working out on a NordicTrack, cooking an elaborate dinner, and then fighting with her boyfriend.

Did she watch him, too? He suspects she did. Maybe even watched him barf one night. Or maybe that was a dream.

‘For two years I watched a revolving door of nonevents that never stopped intriguing me,’ he wrote.

Thus the invention of the character with the alias Y__. Victoria Vick is a therapist who has begun sessions with Y__, who reveals that he was involved with a government project that resulted in the creation of a series of sprays and creams that make it possible, through light refraction, to travel through the world unseen. He’s not invisible, per se. He’s just deeply camouflaged.

Y__ takes advantage of this invention — a project that was abandoned by his fellow creators and forgotten by the government — to slip into people’s homes and observe them. He is fueled by the belief that you can never really know someone unless you see them when they are alone. That their public self is merely an adaptation that shifts depending upon who they are with.

Y__ doesn’t necessarily want a therapist. He wants to unburden himself of a secret. The nights spent silently watching a woman go for a run, come home and go nuts on a bong, binge and run some more. Eventually he feels he has to intervene. He believes that if he throws off this cycle, she will find some relief from her addictions. He eventually intervenes with bad results.

Then Victoria becomes a little too interested in Y__ and his unique lot.

The novel is played as a series of meetings with Y__ that have been compiled for publication. It includes summations of sessions and emails that she wrote to herself afterward, the standard note-taking of professionals who have to record inane details about your life so that the next time you get a cavity filled you can resume a conversation about pets and vacations.

The Visible Man suits Klosterman’s strengths as a writer, debater, and pop culture expert in a way that his debut novel Downtown Owl did not. His forte is the hypothetical scenario that includes a wild card element — then giving it fan fiction treatment. With Downtown Owl, the wild card was merely a looming storm. The end result was Klosterman squeezing himself into some sort of mold of what a novel should look, feel, and sound like. It was better than okay, but it felt like Klosterman wearing Jon Hassler’s face paint.

Chuck Klosterman has a very distinct and powerful voice. Like, if you spent too long with him or read his entire canon, you would be in danger of catching it. This is a pro when it comes to his essays; a detriment to his work as a novelist. The three main characters in Downtown Owl sounded like incarnations of the same person, all saddled with the burden of a Klostermanian accent. Almost all of The Visible Man‘is the in the words of Y__. So when he leans Klostermanian, it works because he isn’t pitted against another version of himself. (Adversely, with the character Victoria Vick, Klosterman seems to have over-corrected and written a woman who is pretty dim and seems like an unlikely candidate for a career in therapy).

Klosterman still makes a better essayist than a fiction writer, but with The Visible Man he gets pretty damn close. This is a super fun read that leaves you watching yourself a little more closely in those alone moments, wondering ‘What would Y__ see?’

This review was originally posted September 26, 2011 on Minnesota Reads.

Review: ‘The White Devil’ by Justin Evans

In 2008 Justin Evans published A Good and Happy Child, a debut novel that was not only one of my favorites when I read it a year later, but it included a passage that I loved so much that it remains stuck in a way that classic poetry is supposed to lodge itself. (Well, the gist of it is there. I have to look it up to get it verbatim). In describing how the demon child and his family live:

“It was a house halfway between this and that, between upper-middle-class luxuries and absentminded squalor.”

For this sentence alone, I will always read everything Evans publishes.

Evans has a pretty ambitious premise for his second novel, The White Devil. A young American kid who has seemingly fallen backward into some bad behavior lands in an English prep school as a last ditch effort. If he can’t stay sober, stay straight at Harrow — a school that once helped shape the young mind of Lord Byron — his dad is done with him.

Unfortunately, there is something about Andrew Taylor: He looks like Byron. The resemblance stops Persephone, the only girl at the all-boy school, a theater sort who knows that they need a student to play Byron in an upcoming production. He also catches the eye of the resident writer charged with creating the play, Piers Fawkes, a scatterbrained creative who is trying to shake the drink. And, unfortunately, he catches the eye of the Harrow ghost, an anemic-looking soul who seduces Andrew and attacks those he is close to.

Andrew has barely unpacked when the fellow student who showed him around winds up dead in the woods, and the autopsy reveals that he was killed by a pre-existing disease. Although, Andrew is the one who finds his friend dead, and he sees an image of the Harrow ghost atop his new friend, somehow hastening the death. And then there are more victims.

Evans novel takes the super scandalous life of Lord Byron and turns it into a supernatural mystery. Mostly: How can Andrew shake this ghost? What is his secret? What does he want? A sort of Scooby Gang of people willing to believe in otherworldly murderers gathers to get to the bottom of it: A librarian, the aforementioned mess of a writer, the sassafrass girlfriend, Andrew and a sidekick. And they have to do all of this without attracting the ire of school officials, who are watching them all very closely.

Evans’ first novel also includes a demonic presence in a way that feels like literary intrigue. This one seems to lean more toward a creative approach to genre fiction. In this respect, the set up works. The first half is a page turner, which makes the flat characters tolerable. The second half is groan-y and the seams really show. Queue up the romantic montage starring the young lovers running through the streets! While the reveals are very duh-duh-dah, the fix for the situation isn’t very climactic. It serves to plant an “I want to read a book about Lord Byron” seed more than anything else.

This review was posted June 29, 2011 on Minnesota Reads.

‘The Pleasure of my Company’ by Steve Martin

Daniel Pecan Cambridge lives in a prison of disorder. His life in Santa Monica is a highly structured life in which he must find a way to the Rite Aid that doesn’t involve stepping off a curb. He is mentally unable to hold a job like the one he once had at Hewlitt Packard. He is unable to use public transportation unless he can draw lines between passengers based upon the plaids and stripes they are wearing. He prioritizes his mail into three piles, savoring letters from his grandmother in Texas like they are the middle part of an Oreo.

When Steve Martin’s novella The Pleasure of My Company opens, Daniel has been cleared of murder charges and has developed a friendship with his neighbor Philipa, an actress who doesn’t know he is slipping her Qualudes. He is visited regularly by an interning psychology student named Clarissa, whom he lies to about his life. He has it bad for Elizabeth, the Real Estate agent who is trying to fill some apartments down the street.

A reader might go through these stages in the early parts of Martin’s second whack at fiction: 1) Ha! That Steve Martin. This is hilarious! 2) Oh my. Should I be laughing at a character who has such a debilitating case of OCD and a touch of Asperger Syndrome? 3) Oh my aching heart!

This list of funny compulsions is all fun and games until Daniel gets a letter from his grandmother who lives in Texas, his benefactor — whom he prefers when she isn’t sending him checks, as much as he needs the checks. Then everything kind of shifts when you realize he isn’t pure, neurotic comedy. He’s a being with feelings who is trapped by things like curbs, the wattage of light bulbs, and expressing emotions.

“The irony is that the one person who gives me money is the one person I wish I could hand the check back to and say no, only joy can pass between you and me. I found it difficult to write back. But I did, stingy with loving words because they didn’t come out of me easily. I hoped she could read between the lines.”

Daniel’s life changes when he is invited by Philipa’s boyfriend Brian to go for a run and he realizes that by following Brian he can soar over curbs, and when he enters an essay contest in search of the most average American. And when he starts to learn more about Clarissa and the complexity of her life with child and hostile ex.

This is a pleasant little story. Nice, funny, easy. And it wraps up tightly like a burrito.

It has taken reading three books by Steve Martin to understand that he is never ever going to do anything super terrible to his characters. This is both frustrating and also alleviates a ton of the stress of reading and worrying about characters. Children won’t die left in the hands of a man who has debilitating street-crossing habits. A character who has fallen in love with his therapist will not do anything super embarrassing to proclaim his feelings. Even the obsessive compulsive gets a slight break when he takes up with a girlfriend who categorizes his ticks into three headings: Acceptable, unacceptable, and hilarious. As though requited love can cure him of OCD and Asperger Syndrome.

Steve Martin’s novels aren’t going to break your heart or make your pulse race. They are simple stories with likable characters whose stories end nicely without shrapnel or gritty nails or paint splatters or messy hair or the need for hand sanitizer.

This review was originally published May 16, 2011 on Minnesota Reads.

Review: ‘American Psycho’ by Bret Easton Ellis

I went to a Super Bowl party in a friend’s basement in the early 1990s and while I don’t remember who was playing or the commercial du jour, I do remember one thing: Salsa.

We had all brought snacks and a jar of salsa had been slopped into a ceramic bowl. I probably said something like: “I love salsa salsa is so good I could eat salsa like all the time forever because yum salsa,” to which my friend Polish responded something like: “Oh yeah? I’ll give you $5 if you drink that entire bowl of your precious salsa.”

The first sip went down okay. It was salsa. Tomatoes, onions, cilantro. Not a dud in the bunch. The second sip was fine, too. But when I went in for a gigantic gulp, this bowl pressed against my face, I realized that the tomatoes were chunky and not in a pleasing way. And the onions and cilantro weren’t doing much to grease the gullet. With about one-fourth of the bowl of salsa to go, I cried “Uncle.” I couldn’t finish it for all the five dollars in the world.

And that, my friends, is exactly how I felt on about Page 327 of Bret Easton Ellis’s novel American Psycho. Seated at Subway, 6-inch BMT on Italian Herb and Cheese in one hand, fiction in the other, I cried “Uncle.” I knew exactly where Patrick Bateman, he of the titular descriptor, was taking this scene and I just couldn’t ride along with him. I’d already read a dozen ways to torture friends and strangers, severed limbs and cannibalism, random acts of violence and handled it like a champ. But this one on the horizon, if I knew Bret Easton Ellis, was going somewhere that was well beyond even my own super flexible tolerance for the lurid.

I’m an X-Gamer of reading consumption. I can handle a lot and think a lot of really sick scenes are so well-written that they cannot be dismissed just because I personally don’t think throat-slashing is any way to spend your free time. Uncle, Bret. You hear me? UNCLE! I’ve met my match in the world of disturbing sentence configurations.

I did go on to read the part in question. And it was even more horrifying than I thought it would be, but I was better prepared for it and handled it the way a tween might handle a haunted house that is on the path home from school: One hand over my eyes and running.

Going into the book, I obviously knew the gist of it. I’ve seen the movie. I love the movie. Christian Bale is a freaking genius in the movie. I’d watch it right now. About five people meet a tragic end in the movie. That’s a fraction of the tally in the book. And at no point in the movie does Patrick Bateman sever a head and then, for instance, wear it as a crotch helmet. He doesn’t gnaw on skin or paste human parts to the wall when it fails to make a decent meatloaf.

The whole thing is a story about 20-something Wall Street types in the late 1980s and the brand name-dropping, restaurant reservation-making, hardbody-chasing competitions between these interchangeable A-holes. It is probably a better Act II to Ellis’s debut Less Than Zero than the actual Act II he released in 2010, Imperial Bedrooms.

At the center of this is Patrick Bateman, an emotionless connoisseur of pop music and recording equipment, who either starts murdering people as hard as he can, or else thinks he’s murdering people as hard as he can. Either way, no one notices because everyone is too busy comparing shades of white on business cards and doing sit ups and Coke and Xanax and whatever else. And so PB loses his mind, considers faxing blood and wearing necklaces made of human vertebrae. Things get really frantic and crazed and these torture scenes are like contortionist-meets-nail gun, and then it just stops and Patrick Bateman goes on for a chapter about, for instance, Whitney Houston’s discography.

So. It’s funny. Yes, parts of American Psycho are hilarious for the over-the-top satire and juxtaposition of scenes. And parts of American Psycho are repetitious for the sake of making a point that is made until that point has dulled and then that, too, is a point. And parts of it are violence escalating into more violence which escalates into the kind of violence that it isn’t even readable. I guess that is a point, too.

My point is: I enjoyed the parts that were readable. And I finally know where my line in the macabre sand is.

This was originally posted on Minnesota Reads on February 25, 2011.