Monday, January 30, 2012

E-Books: The Sky is Falling. Again.

Are e-books a bubble? And, if the answer is yes, when is it going to burst? That’s what novelist turned technology naysayer Ewan Morrison asks in The Guardian today, preparing us for a brave new world where the whole e-book thing blows up in our faces:
The internet is full of ironies. I, for one, could never have guessed that writing about the end of books would generate more income for me than actually publishing the damn things. I've been on an End of Books reading tour since August and it turns out that what the internet gurus say about consumers being more willing to pay for events, speeches and gigs, rather than buying cultural objects, is now becoming true.
Morrison connects what he sees as the current e-book boom with the booms that accompanied huge and shaky periods of growth in the stock market and real estate and other boom-prone mediums.

The resulting piece, while interesting, is actually pretty silly. Morrison brings us a new, more nuanced shade of the sky is falling. While, certainly, there are aspects of the current e-book publishing climate that won’t survive the long term, the fact is -- Chicken Little-like assertions aside -- the publishing industry has been overdue for change for a long time. More: a lot of people actually like reading electronically. That means that thousands -- and if Amazon is to be believed, growing millions -- of people with shiny new e-reading devices are creating a bump in the market. With that kind of power, the market is falling over itself to respond. Will there be fallout? Of course. But there is also excitement about reading. New discussion about books. And a long stagnant system is reevaluating itself. Is all of that bad? I think not. But saying it is does make for more interesting reading than otherwise. It’s always journalistically healthy to piss people off.

Meanwhile, same paper, different page, Jonathan Franzen has his own Chicken Little-style observations of electronic books:
For serious readers, Franzen said, "a sense of permanence has always been part of the experience". "Everything else in your life is fluid, but here is this text that doesn't change," he continued. "Will there still be readers 50 years from now who feel that way? Who have that hunger for something permanent and unalterable? I don't have a crystal ball. But I do fear that it's going to be very hard to make the world work if there's no permanence like that. That kind of radical contingency is not compatible with a system of justice or responsible self-government."
Here’s the thing: over the long haul, we will come to realize that books are books. You can dress them up in gorgeous letterpress editions or you can share them electronically but the core of the book -- the soul, if you will -- is untouched by the method of delivery.

The industry will change. Let’s face it, it must. And some of the things that we think are true right now will prove not to be. But when the dust settles we will still have stories. We will still have authors. We will still have books.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New This Month: Ru by Kim Thúy

As I write this it seems likely that you’ve never heard of Kim Thúy, a writer with a gentle voice and a deep and compelling story. But you will.

In Vietnamese, “Ru” means lullaby. In French it is a small stream. And for Ru (Random House Canada) both things are true. And more as well.

The French language edition of Ru, published in 2009, won Canada’s Governor’s General Award, one of the highest honors that can be accorded a book in a publication year. Author Thúy was born in Saigon and arrived in Canada in 1979 at the age of ten. Billed as a seamstress, interpreter, lawyer and restaurateur, at this point it seems likely that Thúy’s significant cultural contributions will come through her writing. Though Ru was initially published only in French, since winning the Governor General’s Award it has been sold to 15 countries. The English language edition, translated from the French by Sheila Fischman, is published this month in Canada. Other countries can anticipate being this enthralled over the next couple of years as local editions make their way into your hands. It just can’t be soon enough.
As a child, I thought that war and peace were opposites. Yet I lived in peace when Vietnam was in flames and I didn’t experience ware until Vietnam had laid down its weapons. I believe that war and peace are actually friends, who mock us.
Ru is not a conventional novel, but neither is it, strictly speaking, non-fiction or memoir. In fact, this is something else entirely: a skillful and beautiful poetic portrait that takes us from an enviable life in Saigon to the horrors of a Malaysian refugee camp and, finally, to conflicted safety in Canada. In her narrator’s delicate voice, Thúy describes the fall of Vietnam and one woman’s desperate journey from chaos to peace in a new place. Unforgettable and deeply moving. ◊

India Wilson is a writer and artist.

Labels: ,

Monday, January 23, 2012

Quidditch, Anyone?

As any Harry Potter fan will tell you, Quidditch is just one of the wondrous things author J.K. Rowling devised for her magical books. But unlike many of those things, Quidditch, with its quaffles and snitches, has been brought to life. The Guardian brings us a glimpse of a match at Oxford:
To onlookers it may have seemed outlandish and bizarre, but to these mostly teenage Oxford students it was the realisation of a dream. For Quidditch, the game they grew up reading about in the pages of Harry Potter books, is no longer a fictional activity played by witches and wizards in the air. It is a fast-paced and disconcertingly rough team sport that is played firmly on the ground and results in very real cuts and bruises.
You can read about real life Quidditch here.


Rare Audubon Books Sell for $7.9 Million

The Duke of Portland set of John James Audubon’s The Birds of America sold at auction at Christie’s in New York on Friday for $7.9 million. The Washington Times describes the books:

The 3 1/2-foot-tall books feature hand-colored prints of all the species known to Audubon in early 19th-century North America. Audubon insisted on the book’s large format -- printed on the largest handmade sheets available at the time -- because of his desire to portray the birds in their actual size and natural habitat.

He found creative ways to paint them to fit the page, including showing large species feeding with their necks bent.
As handsome as that $7.9 million may sound, the heirs of the Duke of Portland, who offered the books for sale, may well have been disappointed. The most recent complete set sold at Sotheby’s in London for £7,321,250 -- about $11.5 million -- in December of 2010.

The books were originally created to be sold by subscription and Christie’s sale catalog reports that, “although the final list of subscribers to The Birds of America totaled 161, a somewhat greater number of sets certainly was produced. Bibliographers of the double-elephant folio have calculated the edition size at approximately 200 completed copies. In her updating of Fries' 1973 census, Susanne Low writes, ‘119 complete copies are known to exist in the world today. 108 are in institutions such as universities, libraries, museums, athenaeums, societies, and the like. 11 are in private hands.’”

Friday, January 20, 2012

“The Joy of Books” Goes Viral

The latest viral video craze is giving a whole new meaning to the phrase, “electronic books.”

“The Joy of Books” celebrates “real” books in stop motion style and well over two million viewers have heeded the call and shared that joy. From The New York Daily News:
There have been many eulogies penned and dirges played to mark the expected passing of the printed page. But even as the Kindle catches fire and Nooks replace more books, there are those of us who stand up for the pleasures of paper.

Sean Ohlenkamp, creator of the vibrant and lovely stop-motion short film “The Joy of Books,” is one such literary soldier. His battle cry comes in his closing frame: “There’s nothing quite like a real book.”
The fantastical short film is set in Toronto bookshop Type. Books come alive after a shopkeeper leaves for the night, much like the toys in Pixar films spring to life as soon as humans leave the room.

Ramone on Ramone

The year before he died of prostrate cancer in 2004, Johnny Ramone appeared in 16th place on the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time list in Rolling Stone and was listed on Time magazine’s 10 Greatest Electric-Guitar Players of all time. Eight years after his death, the autobiography of punk band The Ramones guitarist will be released. From The Wall Street Journal:
Commando: The Autobiography of Johnny Ramone is set for release April 2 by Abrams Image. In an interview Tuesday, his widow, Linda, described the book as "kind of his last word that he knew would be out."

"It is a really powerful book because his whole life has gone before him and he knows it's going to come to an end, and he really needs to tell everybody what he's feeling inside, so that's what makes it so amazing," she added later. "That is the biggest, most powerful thing, writing a book when you know you're dying."
So just what took so long in publishing Johnny Romone’s final words?
She said several factors were responsible for the delay in the book's release, including lawsuits involving the band after Ramone died and other projects she was undertaking for his fans.

"Between all those years of doing different things for his legacy, I always had the book. But there was never the right time for the book," she said.

Linda said her husband never stopped working on the book, even during chemotherapy treatments.

"He wasn't feeling well all the time, but that never stopped Johnny," she said. "Johnny was indestructible."

The Best Headline in the World

When Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison’s beloved book Beloved was challenged in Michigan last week, The New York Daily News responded with what has to be one of the top newspaper headlines of all time. Ready?
Toni Morrison's 'Beloved' is simplistic pornography, say two Michigan parents who don't appear to be very smart
That’s the headline. The piece itself doesn’t pull any punches, either:
Okay, if you compare "James and the Giant Peach" to "Beloved," then you are a moron and your opinion on anything doesn't count for anything ever again - not only on literature, but whether pepperoni belongs on Friday night's pizza. Also, regarding all the sex and violence and violent sex in a book about slavery whose author happened to win the highest literary prize in the world: watch "Roots," sister.
As it turns out, the stylish NYDN piece is the good news. The bad news? Beloved, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1983, has already been pulled from some Michigan classrooms.


Killer Covers Turns Three

Amazing to see that J. Kingston Pierce’s Killer Covers blog turned three yesterday. As Pierce says, it’s gone pretty fast. But how to celebrate such a momentous occasion? Pierce writes:
I went ’round and ’round on the most appropriate way to celebrate Killer Covers’ third birthday, and finally settled on the idea of showcasing three covers by three different illustrators I discovered during the last 12 months: Britain’s Sam Peffer (aka “Peff”) and American artists Lu Kimmel and Tom Miller.
That’s the tease. You can see those covers -- and many, many more -- on Killer Covers here.

Labels: ,

Authors Behaving Badly

What happens when authors and the publishing establishment react badly to reader reviews on sites like Goodreads and Amazon? All hell breaks loose, according to the Guardian.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

New in Paperback: The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

Southern fiction has its own smooth rhythms. You can feel this along with the smokey hues of the new South in the work of New York Times bestselling Sarah Addison Allen. Her most recent book, 2011’s The Peach Keeper (Bantam), is a memorable example of the best of the type of fiction that this author is becoming known for.

Secrets long hidden come to light in the garden of a grand home built by one of Willa Jackson’s ancestors. The results of the discovery put the faded Southern Belle at odds with socialite Paxton Osgood, even while some of the buried truths reveal a shared history neither knew anything about.

Addison Allen has a deft touch with magical realism. She skates about as close to the edge of fantasy and magic as possible without ever really getting there. It is this that sets her work apart. She manages to weave elements of mystery, thriller and romance together with a bit of genuine fairy dust and wrap it all in the fragrance of magnolia. The Peach Keeper is a wonderful, memorable book. ◊

Sienna Powers is a transplanted Calgarian who lives and works in Vancouver, B.C. She is a writer and conceptual artist.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stop SOPA and PIPA

The ramifications of the proposed Internet Blacklist Legislation are numerous and potentially dire. The Electronic Frontier Foundation boils it down most succinctly:
The Internet blacklist legislation -- known as PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House -- invites Internet security risks, threatens online speech, and hampers Internet innovation. Urge your members of Congress to reject this Internet blacklist campaign in both its forms!
As the EFF points out, though it’s possible to spin both bits of legislation in a positive way, but the deeper implications require serious study:
Big media and its allies in Congress are billing the Internet blacklist legislation as a new way to battle online infringement. But innovation and free speech advocates know that this initiative will do little to stop infringement online. What it will do is compromise Internet security, inhibit online expression, and slow growth in the technology sector.
Today January Magazine joins much of the Web in a day of study and reflection about what these twinned Bills might mean. So much has been written on the topic already, with more being added every minute, rather than add to the noise, we offer a series of links and a day of quiet.

So read about and consider the issues, make your voice heard, vote if you can... then hit the fallback position and spend some time with a book.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation covers the matter here.

Wikipedia explains in some detail here.

The National Post does its usual great job of coverage here.

Ditto Strombo here.

CNN covers the basics here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Who Needs Novels?

Though he says it really well and has a dead cool name, it’s difficult for me to swallow very much author and essayist Garth Risk Hallberg posits in a recent New York Times piece. This is especially true after doing some thinking about all that was said and implied in a piece January ran last week on how reading impacts our neural pathways. From Risk Hallberg’s piece, “Why Write Novels at All?”
The central question driving literary aesthetics in the age of the iPad is no longer “How should novels be?” but “Why write novels at all?”

The roots of this question, in its contemporary incarnation, can be traced back to the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, who at the dawn of the ’80s promulgated the notion of “cultural capital”: the idea that aesthetic choices are an artifact of socioeconomic position. Bourdieu documented a correlation between taste and class position: The scarcer or more difficult to access an aesthetic experience is — the novel very much included — the greater its ability to set us apart from those further down the social ladder. This kind of value is, in his analysis, the only real value that “refined” tastes have.
Risk Hallberg’s idea is that we’re on the cusp of a whole new deal:
Even as you read this, engineers in Silicon Valley are hard at work on new ways to delight you -- gathering the entire field of aesthetic experience onto a single screen you’ll be able to roll up like a paperback and stick in your back pocket. It’s safe to say that delight won’t be in short supply, and as long as there’s juice in the battery, we won’t have to feel alone.
Pretty much every new wrinkle in the evolution of culture has brought fearmongers out of hiding, promising the end of something beloved. The wide acceptance of photography towards the end of the 19th century, for instance, had skeptics threatening the end of painting as an artform. The invention of moveable type brought out those who predicted it would mean the end of storytelling and -- same horse, different paddock -- that democratization through mass production of books (read that pulp fiction) would spell the end of “proper” literature.

History is filled with many such dire predictions at times of change. But should we really concern ourselves with disconnected possibilities? And, maybe more to the point, is the artform that so recently gave us The Pale King, 11/22/63, and The Tiger’s Wife actually under threat? From what we’re seeing -- and from what our neural pathways are telling us -- no. It is not.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Canadian. Literature. Sex.

Hmmm… three words that might not go together under most circumstances.

Canadian. Literature. Sex.

But CanLit is Sexy, a new anonymous microblog, conjures up some silliness in the wake of great changes on the Canadian publishing scene. CanLit is Sexy says they are:
The finest collection of CanLit pickup lines from the authors themselves. A misguided response to the end of McClelland & Stewart as an independent Canadian publishing house.
The idea is funnier than the execution here, but -- what the heck -- let’s give them an “eh” for effort, right? Let’s face it though, this is never going to have the meme appeal of Ryan Gosling Works in Publishing or Chicks With Steve Buscemeyes, both of which are kinda classics.

You can visit CanLit is Sexy here.

Pierce’s Picks and Sad News

If you’re looking for Pierce’s Picks, from now on, you’ll find it on the nearby Rap Sheet, edited by Pierce himself.

While you’re at The Rap Sheet, you’ll see some very sad news: Reginald Hill, creator of the Yorkshire-based detective team of Andrew Dalziel and Peter Pascoe, died last Thursday at age 75.

In a lovely tribute, Karen Anderson writes:
The last three books in the Dalziel/Pascoe series were all about death, illness, and the consequences of aging. Hill, who died this last Thursday at age 75 of cancer, was clearly playing with the ideas of lessening powers, and how society treats the ill and elderly. And how people remember the dead. Midnight Fugue sees the feisty Dalziel returning to work after near-death in a terrorist bombing and panicking when he realizes he’s headed off to the Monday-morning staff meeting ... on a Sunday.
You can see Anderson’s piece here.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Today: The Winter Palace by Eva Strachniak

In The Winter Palace (Bantam) Polish-born author Eva Strachniak (Necessary Lies) tells the story of Russia’s Catherine the Great from the perspective of an almost-invisible Polish servant.

Despite the fact that Catherine the Great is one of the most interesting -- and arguably controversial -- of Europe’s 18th century monarchs, I’ve never before encountered a work of fiction about her life before and, having read a lot of royal-based fiction, I found it was a delight encountering new ground in what is often considered to be the Golden Age of the Russian Empire.

“When I grew up in Poland,” writes the author, “Catherine the Great was a sinister figure.” But research brought the woman closer, and Strachniak came to see Catherine as “a powerful woman leader in a misogynist world, a savvy player of political games, a passionate lover and a cool-headed politician.” All of this comes through loud and clear in The Winter Palace, a terrifically engrossing book.

Meanwhile, a an excellent biography of Catherine the Great was published by Random House late last year. Written by Pullitzer Prize-winning author, Robert K. Massie (Nicholas and Alexander, The Romanovs: the Final Chapter), Catherine the Great: Portrait of A Woman goes all the way, including details from the sexual diary the slightly nasty queen with the historically awful marriage kept throughout her reign.

If you have a hankering to know more about this enigmatic queen, this brace of books will likely deliver even more than you bargained for. ◊

Monica Stark is a contributing editor to January Magazine. She currently makes her home on a liveaboard boat somewhere in the North Pacific.

Labels: , ,

Elton John Book Will Fight AIDS

On Monday publisher Little, Brown announced that they will publish a book by pop icon Elton John later this year. Proceeds of the book, Love is the Cure: Ending the Global AIDS Epidemic, will go to the Elton John AIDS Foundation, an organization that has, over the last two decades, raised almost a quarter of a billion dollars towards fighting the disease.

The Little, Brown announcement said that the book will be “the very personal story of Sir Elton’s life during the AIDS epidemic, including his agony at seeing friend after friend perish needlessly. Through his stories of close encounters with people like Ryan White, Freddie Mercury, and many others, he will convey the personal toll AIDS has taken on his life -- and his infinite determination to stop its spread.”

In the release, Sir Elton added that the disease “must be cured not by a miraculous vaccine, but by changing hearts and minds, and through a collective effort to break down social barriers and to build bridges of compassion. Why are we not doing more? This is a question I have thought deeply about, and wish to answer -- and to help change -- by writing this book.”

Love is the Cure
will go on sale this coming July. The publication date is meant to coincide with the 2012 XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC.

Monday, January 09, 2012

More Movies Based on Larsson Books for Sony

Despite disappointing openings for the English language version of the screen version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Sony Pictures has said they’re going to go ahead with other film versions of the other books in Stieg Larsson’s trilogy.

Like Dateline Hollywood, January wonders if Sony is now rethinking the wisdom of having opened Girl With the Dragon Tattoo as a Christmas film. The darkness of both tone and material would likely have lent the film to a more auspicious release at any other time of the year. As it was, the R-Rated film did not do well against the two big PG-13 Rated Christmas 2011 winners: Mission: Impossible 4 and Sherlock 2. Dateline’s Nikki Finke reports:
Sony Pictures is indeed going forward with The Girl Who Played With Fire already written by Steve Zaillian, and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest which Zaillian is penning. Studio chief Pascal and producer Scott Rudin have not yet locked in David Fincher as director. But they’re looking to start shooting #2 by the end of this year/beginning of next. Overseas, Sony now expects GWDT to do over $200M — so $300M all in globally. “And that’s a really good number,” the Sony exec told me hopefully. But one mogul counters, “The surprising part is that Sony is not waiting to see if the movie works overseas before going forward with the sequels. I would have.”
All of this would seem especially true in light of the very successful Swedish language version of the film released a few years ago.

Just can’t get enough of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo? The Rap Sheet has written about everything Larsson -- film and book -- since before anyone else was paying attention. Those links are all here.


Porn for Booklovers

And for those who love, love, love their old school books, a bit of porn.

“A photo blog collection of all the best bookshelf photos from around the world for people who *heart* bookshelves.”

Nuff said: Bookshelf Porn is here.

Print vs. Electronic: Enter the Golden Age

Not long ago we were arguing for or against reading electronically. In an interesting piece for the Guardian, writer and editor Robert McCrum points out that the battle now is complete and, in some ways, there are no winners or losers: just a redistribution of priority.
If the ebook is all about ease, and short attention spans, the ink and paper book must satisfy not just the thrill of reading, but the deep aesthetic pleasure associated with owning, holding and even scenting a favourite text. Already, there are signs that some publishers have cottoned on to this.
These aren’t new thoughts. In fact, just last month we reported on the idea that one of the things the e-book revolution would give us back is the beautiful book. But McCrum -- being McCrum -- takes things a bit further:
From the outside, the book trade looks staid, static and conservative, but inside the publishing jungle there's a life-and-death struggle between E and P. This competition has begun to sponsor a literary bonanza. If ever there was a golden age of reading, this is it.

The e-publisher's riposte to beautiful books has time and technology on its side. This is also the age of the book app. 2011 was a milestone year in lots of ways (Arab spring, death of Bin Laden, English cricket revival), but never more so than with Faber's launch of TS Eliot's The Waste Land as a book app.

Even the most devout print-conscious bibliophile could hardly fail to be impressed by the possibilities of reading, and listening to, this great poem in many different formats, including two recordings by the poet himself. Agreed: this treatment works especially well with a long poem, but Jamie Oliver also understands, and is profiting from, the market for the book app.
You can read the full piece here. And if you love the image above, you can see more (and more and more!) on the microblog walls & walls of books here.

Labels: ,

Pierce’s Pick: Agent 6 by Tom Rob Smith

This week, J. Kingston Pierce chooses Agent 6 by Tom Rob Smith:
Former Moscow secret policeman Leo Demidov’s wife and two daughters travel to New York City in 1950 as part of a “peace tour,” only to be implicated in the killing of an African-American singer. Afterwards, Demidov -- denied the chance to investigate officially -- launches a years-long, international quest for truth ... and revenge.
Looking for previous Pierce’s Picks? Twelve months of them are here. And though the Pierce’s Pick archive will remain on January Magazine, going forward, you’ll find the weekly Pierce’s Pick on January’s sister publication, the crime fiction-focused Rap Sheet.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Transitions and Celebrations

The beginning and end of the year are always the busiest time at January Magazine. In that time, we produce several features that our readers have come to enjoy and expect. Because a lot of people take breaks from their regular schedule through the holidays, we thought we’d let you know what we’d been up to while you were looking in the other direction. Some of this stuff is just too special to miss!

This year, our annual Holiday Gift Guide started rolling in mid-November and kept picking up steam almost right up to December 25th. That piece is here.

For readers, the segue from Gift Guide to Best Books of 2011 might have been subtle, but around here, it was a huge shift. Both pieces are massive and represent many hours writing for all of our contributors, as well as lots of editing and planning for January’s senior editing team, Linda L. Richards and J. Kingston Pierce, not to mention lots of original design from art director David Middleton.

The Best Books of 2010 feature was one of our most significant ever. We talked about 133 books in total in fiction, non-fiction, crime fiction, art & culture, cookbooks, science fiction/fantasy, biography and books for children. The feature is based here.

Finally -- and sadly -- we talked about the literary passages that we covered in 2011. Briefly, and respectfully, we bow our heads and mourn the stories that will never be told.

In 2012, January Magazine moves into our 15th year. Thanks for letting us share a corner of your reading life. May you and yours have a rich and rewarding new year.

Note: the painting above is “La Liseuse” and is by the French painter Jean Jacques Henner (1829-1905). There is something beautiful and dreamy in this chiaroscuro painting of a woman reading. Something that tells us she is so involved that she has has no time for the noise of the world.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The Need to Read

We’ve been saying all along that it doesn’t make much difference if you read by traditional or electronic methods: it’s the reading itself that’s the thing. Turns out, we were right.

According to a study done at Washington University, reading a book blazes new neural pathways. Our brains are actually physically changed by the experience of reading. From The Guardian:
Psychologists from Washington University used brain scans to see what happens inside our heads when we read stories. They found that "readers mentally simulate each new situation encountered in a narrative". The brain weaves these situations together with experiences from its own life to create a new mental synthesis. Reading a book leaves us with new neural pathways.

The discovery that our brains are physically changed by the experience of reading is something many of us will understand instinctively, as we think back to the way an extraordinary book had a transformative effect on the way we viewed the world. This transformation only takes place when we lose ourselves in a book, abandoning the emotional and mental chatter of the real world.
The full piece is fascinating and it’s here.

New Today: Wild Abandon by Joe Dunthorne

Joe Dunthorne’s 2008 debut, Submarine, was darkly funny, gently experimental and widely lauded. His sophomore effort, Wild Abandon (Random House) is not that book, though Dunthorne has brought some of his themes along for the ride. (One suspects we’ll be seeing them again and again.)

Seventeen-year-old Kate and 11-year-old Albert have been raised on a commune in rural Wales. The impending break-up of the relationship of their parents puts the future of the commune in jeopardy and Kate enrolls in school for the first time. Her absence leaves Albert at an impressionable impasse and he finds himself under the influence of a seductive stranger who advises him about the coming end of the world.

Seeing the rural utopia he’s built fracturing through forces beyond his control, Albert and Kate’s father determines to take action… by hosting a rave.

The pace here is fast and some of the characters and situations sound absurd, but Dunthorne’s voice is calm and relaxed and he wheels us through wild territory with a reassuring confidence and smoothness.

Wild Abandon was published to wide applause in the UK and Canada in 2011. Random House delivers it to Americans today. Some of Dunthorne’s ideas and wordplay will be difficult for American readers to follow, but I suspect that some of them will make the effort: Dunthorne’s step is sure. And his future? It looks bright.

“The last day on earth is coming. Bring your own booze.” ◊

Linda L. Richards is editor of January Magazine and the author of several books.