I’m not sure what to make of Darin Strauss after reading this memoir.  To me it seemed like fiction, or at least at first glance it did.  Mr. Strauss has gone through a fairly traumatic event, and since it happened early in his life, he’s had time to process, and maybe figure out a way to deal with it.  He killed someone.  It was an accident, and it couldn’t be helped.  The writing here is crisp, sharp, cliché-free, and brutally honest.  It reminded me of the Stewart O’Nan novel Songs for the Missing.  By the end of Half A Life you realize you’re reading something that really happened, and it’s true, which makes it all the more potent. It’s published by McSweeney’s, and is on sale this month.

This novel took forever to make it my way, and it’s probably because I worship the movie.  Now that the adaptation of Never Let Me Go is about to grace the big screen, I think it’s a fine time to revisit this classic, as backlist sells.  I love how Anthony Hopkins was chiseled in my mind while I read this book, the clueless butler who is only serving his master, even though that master is a Nazi sympathizer.  The book is equal parts beauty and masterful writing; Ishiguro lets us see the butler, but only feel what he sees, not what the butler feels, because he’s void of emotion.  It took me years to finally read Remains of the Day, and it’s worth every second you spend with it.

Dogfight, A Love Story came to me right alongside other books that Random House wanted me to read, somehow this little gem shot to the top of the pile, because after I read the first few pages I couldn’t put it down.  The two brothers at the center of this story might remind you of a modern dayEast of Eden, but with lots of drugs, pitbulls and a scam involving a pocket full of chocolate…that all takes place in Queens, NY. You’ll love the urgency of Matt Burgess, the detail’s that might be overlooked by the common man, in this book, take your breath away.  There is a wonderfully vibrant scene around a dinner table, involving a baseball game and a pregnancy, which should leave you in awe.  As far as debut novels go, this one is great, and it confidently stands alongside The Imperfectionists and Mr. Peanut.

 

 

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3G1B is the collaboration of four friends and colleagues in the book business. Together, they review books and stories, interview authors, and maintain an ongoing conversation about publishing, bookselling, writing, pr, and nearly anything else.

JONATHAN EVISON is the author of All About Lulu and West of Here and TNB's Executive Editor. He likes rabbits. He also likes being the ambiguous fourth guy in the “Three Guys” triumvirate. He is the founder of the secret society, The Fiction Files (if he told, he’d have to kill you). He has a website, but it’s old. Just google him.

DENNIS HARITOU has bought books for Barnes and Noble for seven years, for warehouse clubs for five, and has led a book club. He is currently Director of Merchandise at Bookazine.

JASON CHAMBERS has been in the book business for over fifteen years, including tenures as General Manager/Buyer at Book Peddlers in Athens, GA, and seven years as a Buyer and Merchandise Manager at Bookazine. He now works as an bookstore consultant and occasional web designer.

JASON RICE has worked in the book business for ten years at Random House in sales and marketing and Barnes & Noble as a community relations manager. Currently he is an Assistant Sales Manager and Buyer at Bookazine. His fiction has appeared in several literary magazines online and in print. He was once the pseudonymous book reviewer Frank Bascombe for Ain’t It Cool News. He’s taught photography to American students in the South of France, worked as a bicycle messenger in New York City, and for a long time worked very hard in the film & television business in NYC. Production experience includes the television shows Pete & Pete, Can We Shop ( Joan Rivers' old shopping show), and the films The Pallbearer, Flirting With Disaster, and countless commercials---even a Christina Applegate movie that went straight to video.

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