Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

There's a reason why this book has been on the top of the New York Times bestsellers list for several weeks now - it's fabulous. The novel offers a unique"take" on Hamlet set in rural Wisconsin and centers on Edgar Sawtelle and his family of dog-breeders. Edgar is mute, but this disability doesn't stop him from helping to train the famous "Sawtelle" dogs - dogs that can make their own cognitive decisions. When Edgar's father dies suddenly, his life is turned upside down as his uncle Claude tries to worm his way into the family. Despite the potential for being an obnoxious and/or arrogant rip off of Shakespeare, the story is compelling and absolutely heartbreaking.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death: Reflections on Revenge, Germophobia, and Laser Hair Removal by Laurie Notaro

When I was in library school, a friend of mine introduced me to the wonderful world of Laurie Notaro. I cannot even begin to tell you how hysterical she is - picture an older, fatter and not as sexed up Chelsea Handler. Notaro is big on doing slice-of-life essays that involve her husband, pets, friends and family and is never afraid to admit her flaws. On the contrary, it's almost as if she knows that her chin hair and belly fat are her money makers. This time around, Notaro fights with sick people on airplanes, training her new puppy and adjusting to the hippie lifestyle in Oregon. I rarely laugh out loud when I read, but there were many times when I chuckled with this one. That ought to tell you something.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My Custom Van by Michael Ian Black

Fans of the TV shows, The State, Stella, and Ed (not to mention all 293849 versions of VH1's "I love the..." series) will probably be very happy upon reading Black's debut work, which contains close to 50 mini essays on a variety of topics. Such essays range from the absurd, like his fascination with scented candle shops and partying to , to quite candid, like his admitted jealousy of David Sedaris. Overall, these essays are actually really funny, mainly because Black never really takes himself seriously. If you've ever seen him doing commentary on any of the VH1 shows , this whole book has that exact same kind of irreverent tone to it.