Tag Archives: Fiction

So far, a thoughtful read

You guys know that I love Stephen King, so you won’t be surprised when I tell you that I started reading his newest novel, 11/22/63. Yes, it’s daunting at 848 pages, but so far, I adore it.

The pacing is lovely; I’m on page 168 and I still really have no idea what’s going to happen, but I can see a framework being built. The characterization is fantastic. The main character, Jake, is an English teacher from Maine (as are many of King’s characters over the years; write what you know). Jake is still getting over a divorce, but he doesn’t seem bitter or mean. He’s more refined than many of King’s characters, and I don’t see any skeletons in his closet (yet? At all?). That’s sort of nice. While Jake’s character is a big part of the plot, because he has to make a lot of difficult decisions, the plot itself is absolutely fascinating.

It’s that age-old question: what if you could go back in time and prevent something terrible from happening? In this case, it’s the assassination of JFK. Imagine all the implications of JFK finishing that tour of Dallas unscathed. There are probably things in your own life that would be different. Maybe you would have been born 15 years earlier, maybe you would have never been born at all. It’s the butterfly effect with a gigantic butterfly. It’s especially powerful because these are events that really happened; we’ve all seen the Zapruder film.

Since this novel takes place in Maine (at least partly), expect some major integration of familiar names, places, and even plot from King’s previous novels. I love that he does that. Everything feels richer and more real.

I’ll tell you my final impressions of the book when I finish it! Happy reading!

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DNBRD the Podcast Book Club, Episode 24: David Sedaris and Hipster Literature

In this episode, Brandon and I talk about David Sedaris and how you either love him, or hate him. Happy listening!

 

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DNBRD the Podcast Book Club, Episode 22: Stephen King, the Dude Himself

On this episode, Brandon and I talk about Stephen King’s writing style, creepy Colorado hotels, and everyone in New Zealand.

 

Happy Listening!

 

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The Reading Life: Books for Fall

It’s that time of year again: leaves are starting to change colors and some have already fallen to the ground, waiting to be stepped on in a crunchy way. I’ve broken out my hooded sweatshirts and one of my scarves. My scooter ride to work involves gloves now. This is my favorite season in general, and it’s also my favorite season for reading.

There’s something about the crisp autumn air that makes me want to grab a book, a cup of coffee, and a window seat where I can lazily watch the leaves swirl past as I turn the pages. I think part of it might be habit; after all, I’ve always been in school around this time. This is my first year as a real, bonafide grownup, with no classes to attend and no papers to write. My brain itches for knowledge and well-crafted sentences.

My favorite fall books tend to be kind of epic and maybe a little melancholy. Fall does not make me melancholy; I’m not sure why I pick the books I do. Again, it might be a school habit. Without further ado, here are three great books to read once the summer has retreated. Continue reading


Authors I Love: Chuck Palahniuk

Editor’s note: Palahniuk is pronounced PAUL-AH-NIK (Paula Nick).

Chuck Palahniuk is best known as the author who wrote the book Fight Club. A movie of the same name, starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, was released in 1999.  I first saw this movie

Chuck Palahniuk

about six months after the original US release and hated it.  I later learned to like it.  It wasn’t until several years later that I even realized it was a book and was curious to see if it followed the movie.  It did, quite nicely, and I became hooked on the dark, graphic stories slightly inspired by Palahniuk’s real life experiences. (Fight Club is said to be inspired by Palahniuk’s involvement in the Cacophony Society while at the University of Oregon.  The Cacophony Society was dedicated to experiencing things outside of the mainstream and performing large-scale pranks in public places, like Project Mayhem in the novel.)  There also seems to be great psychological twists that accompany each of Palahniuk’s novels that make the context of the whole story change as in Fight Club.

Continue reading


My Favorite Book: The Handmaid’s Tale

Editor’s note:

Welcome to a new feature on DNBRD! Life has been insane lately, so I’ve recruited some amazing, smart, funny people to help me out a bit. I hope you enjoy the new energy they’re going to add to the site!

–AL

As far as dystopian novels go, the most popular for the general reading population have been 1984, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451.  While these are all great novels, unfortunately, they are all male-driven–male main characters in male-dominated societies.  And then, there is The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.This female-directed story takes place in some unspecified period of time (presumably in the future) where women’s rights have been completely restricted and the “handmaid’s” primary duty is to be a surrogate for higher-ups who are struggling with conception.  The story follows one handmaid by the name of Offred (Of Fred, her commander).  Her story wanders between her previous life in the United States of America and this new society.

What makes this story so amazing and wonderful and frightening is that many of the morals and values of this new society are leftover from the United States but twisted in a way that would make any feminist cringe… something that could actually happen in our lifetime.  It’s written by a woman from the point of view of a woman in this oppressed society; again, something that is not often done in the genre of dystopian novels.  And the ending, whoooo boy, the ending.  While many might be disappointed by the ending, as I first was, rereading it allowed me to admire the ending for allowing the reader to imagine what became of all the characters.  The ending also puts the rest of the story in a completely different context which compels the reader to read it again.  And to me, any good book is worth rereading.

For some more dystopian novels you might enjoy, see this list, this article from the Guardian, and this Wikipedia entry.

Have you read The Handmaid’s Tale? Let us know in the comments!


Authors I Love: Bruce Coville

The other night, I went to a bonfire. My friends and I were talking about favorite books from childhood, when one of them said, “I got to meet the author of My Teacher is an Alien once.”

That, intrepid readers, would be Bruce Coville, an author I have never met, but whose books shaped my childhood and my brain.

Bruce Coville is from Syracuse, New York, and he once worked as a gravedigger. I remember reading that on the back of one of his books when I was younger and thinking, “This guy is so cool.” Coville’s writing style is humorous, friendly, and well-crafted. He is prolific, but he doesn’t sacrifice quality for quantity.

I’m also constantly impressed at authors who can write as a different gender and get it right. Bruce Coville’s female characters don’t feel like caricatures, which is refreshing.

The first Bruce Coville book I ever read was The Ghost in the Big Brass Bed, which is a Nina Tanleven book. Nina Tanleven is a spunky sixth-grader with a tendency for solving ghostly mysteries; her dad makes cookies and says goofy things, and her best friend is a girl named Chris. When my mom bought me my copy of The Ghost in the Big Brass Bed, she also made a rule: I was not allowed to read it after dinner, because I would have nightmares. I think she made this rule because I had a big brass bed. Guess what: I read it after dinner (sorry, Mom) and I didn’t have nightmares. Instead, my Goosebumps-loving brain wanted to know more and more about ghosts, and I wanted to read more and more Bruce Coville. Continue reading