The Review Review in review

So we’ve gotten my writing off to a good start for the new year, what about my reading? I’m quite sad to admit how little I’ve read since Jan1. Part of it was other stuff occupying my time and wanting to spend time with the family and such, but part of it was trying to finish a book I wasn’t really interested in finishing but felt I needed to. We’ll get to that one in a minute. Let’s start with the last book I read in 2009 that trickled over into 2010, THE FINANCIAL LIVES OF THE POETS by Jess Walter.

For the most part I loved this book. I’m a sucker for anything about a writer, and this guy was a doozy. A small-time financial writer who quit his job at the peak of the web bubble to start a website that did financial reporting in poetry. I could relate to so much of this book good and bad. The character was so idealistic and naïve it was charming and frustrating. He had the same worries about being a father and a husband that I do. And I was totally on board with the small nature of the plot as he tries to come up with some way to get the money to save his house from going into foreclosure. I stayed along as he became a small time drug dealer and was offered the chance to buy into a sort of drug dealing time share. But then it turned into a “thriller” with reversals and plots twists that I didn’t much care for and it all kind of fell apart in the last twenty pages. Granted, I was reading those pages very quickly because I wanted to know what was going to happen so I may have skipped over some vital information. And I guess, that alone speaks to the quality of this book. A def. recommend to those who haven’t read it.

The book I just finished yesterday was Filthy Rich by Brian Azzerelo and part of the new Vertigo Crime imprint. This little graphic novel was great. It was sleazy and fast and nasty and well done. The plot doesn’t burn any new etches in the annals of crime fiction, and the art doesn’t bring anything new to the table, but as a quick, pulp tale it was executed perfectly. I can’t wait to get my hands on Jason Starr’s THE CHILL from the same line and all of the rest of the books from Vertigo Crime set for this year look good.

Now, to the first book I read this year. Unfortunately for my overactive brain pan, it came right around the time of a big discussion online regarding the appropriateness of bad reviews on blogs and whether you could really be a reviewer if all you posted to your blog were positive reviews. Well, I’m not a reviewer, and most of the time I only refer to something here if I really liked it or if it was so awful that I want to make sure no one else ever makes the mistake of exposing themselves to it. That is not the case with this book. This book was meh. And the book in question was TOWER by Ken Bruen and Reed Coleman. I like both authors. I like Busted Flush Press who published it (and this book is a very well done piece of publishing). And I really wanted to like this book. I’ve loved the collaborations Ken has done with Jason Starr and I guess I had the wrong expectations for this book. Because what I read was mostly a scatterbrained knockoff of THE DEPARTED. The second half was much better than the first half which was very disjointed, but I still couldn’t finish it even though it was less than 200 pages long.

And under normal circumstances I probably wouldn’t have posted that review, but I’m feeling under pressure to comment, good or bad, on whatever I read so there you have it. Many other people have enjoyed this book and you may be one of them. I was not. Now I’m reading THE WAY HOME by Pelecanos and enjoying it immensely with Jason Starr’s PANIC ATTACK and Daniel Judson’s THE VIOLET HOUR on deck. I also have Jonathan Ames’s graphic novel THE ALCOHOLIC sitting around waiting for a good couple hour stretch over the weekend, maybe when I go to get an oil change.