It's a good book, but it's not my Typee...

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Dan Wells, My New Favorite Author

I Am Not A Serial Killer has been on my list of books to read ever since it came out. (Quick summary: it's like the Dexter series but infinitely better.) It sat patiently on my list while I read dozens of other things. Then one day, my world changed. I discovered they were coming out with a movie and that there is now a series of books.

I said to myself, "Quick, to the bookshelf, Kyle!" I call myself Kyle.

I make it a rule to read the book before I see a movie if it looks like the book is any good at all. So I have now spent numerous hours reading all about everyone's favorite sociopathic teen, John Wayne Cleaver. And then I rented the movie from Amazon and watched it twice.

Having seen the preview, I couldn't help but imagine Max Records as John. Slowly I realized that there was nothing dislodging this image from my mind because the books give very little indication of what John looks like. This bothered me for about 0.5 seconds until I considered John's personality. Told in the first person, his story is one of alienation and confusion. John never experiences emotion in a "normal" way. He's either giddy at the thought of touching a dead body or semi-annoyed when the cutest girls in school want to talk to him.

John doesn't really care what he looks like and we therefore don't get a self-centered description from the book's hero. And yes, John is a hero despite his shortcomings and defects. He is an extreme example of someone choosing to use their unusual traits for good. As a student of serial killers and a sociopath himself, he decides to step in and stop the killer stalking his town because it takes one to know one.

Some people have expressed a bewildered frustration with the first book because part of the way through THE ENTIRE FREAKING GAME CHANGES. But I say don't let that stop you. It's still an awesome book and the rest of the series so far is greatly pleasing. Just take it from your old friend, Kyle.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Dimestore by Lee Smith

Dimestore is a collection of essays wherein Lee Smith describes everything from her childhood to the archetype of a fussy southern woman, which Ms. Smith herself certainly is not.

One of the parts I will probably remember longest is her decision to visit the new, gargantuan Walmart which has been invited (yes, invited) into the heart of her Virginia hometown in search of wine to help her cope with all the change she sees around her during her visit. She explains that this will be her only chance to buy alcohol in Grundy because the town fathers drove away a potential Applebee's due to the fact that they serve mixed drinks. There is something shocking and charming about seeing such evil in mediocre, overpriced margaritas.

Smith's nonfiction is incredibly easy to read. It's not simple or unintelligent, but it gives to the reader rather than making demands. The author herself calls the short works which make up the book essays, but the word seems too formal. The essays of such a well-respected author should be weighty things which require highlighting and rereading for one to truly understand them. Right? But each of the stories here is a little flower, already in bloom and self contained, which Smith places in our hand.