A Working Theory of Love by Scott Hutchins
I think I was expecting too much from this book. I’d heard names like Palahniuk, Updike, and Hornby thrown about in relation to its author, and heard good things about the tone and the aims of the novel. And while I enjoyed the book, it’s not one that will stick with me and I wouldn’t necessarily go out and recommend it to everyone I know.
It should have struck a chord with me – it’s about thirty-something guy, working in tech (sort of), it’s about fathers and sons (a theme which I tend to gravitate towards), and it’s about proper grown up relationship stuff. It just felt a little diluted and a little arch and a little overlong for me to fall in love with it.
Every Love Story is a Ghost Story by D. T. Max
I am not that much of a David Foster Wallace fan. I appreciate his genius, and his style, and (now) his story, but his way of presenting fiction never connected with me as much as it did others (I actually preferred his non-fiction stuff).
This a good autobiography though. It rips along with a real sense of Wallace’s personality in every paragraph, and you always feel that Max has a good grasp of what happened and he’s spoken to the right people. It is flawed though, and I think its main flaw is that it concentrates almost entirely on Wallace’s work to the detriment of the rest of his life. Especially his relationships. When an autobiography chucks away a comment about the author attempting to push his ex-girlfriend out of a moving car as if he were tossing out a cigarette, then there’s something seriously wrong with its priorities I think.
Reality Hunger: A Manifesto by David Shields
I read this because I fell into a bit of a Wikipedia-hole after reading around Wallace and literary theory. It’s an incredible treatise on what modern fiction should and could be, and the way it’s written is just mesmerising and truly unique. It got me all fired up and I think I highlighted more passages in it than I have any other book I’ve read. Recommended.
The Private Eye by Marcos Martin and writer Brian K. Vaughan
I’m cheating a little bit here, because this isn’t even a full graphic novel, never mind a book, but I really really enjoyed this first issue of artist Marcos Martin and writer Brian K. Vaughan’s experiment to deliver this DRM-free story directly to readers and let them pay whatever they want for it.
It’s about a near future where every dirty little secret held online has spilled into the real world and, as a result, privacy is considered a sacred right and everyone has a secret identity. Go download it now. We need more brave little experiments like this.