The Windup Bird Chronicle - Haruki Murakami
Sorry to Bother You
Haruki is one of my fav living writers. Think Raymond Carver meets Gabriel García Márquez. Could even say HM is the godfather of the new urban fantasy movement (ala Kelly Link).
In this book (published as three novellas in Japan) protagonist Toru Okada is a middle aged slacker without ambition or direction... that is until his wife fails to return from work one day. He receives a bizarre phone call. Then his cat goes missing. Ever stranger events trigger an existential crisis and while exploring his neighborhood he finds and climbs down into an abandoned well. Experiencing a bit of solace he returns to the well day after day, closing the lid and sitting in utter darkness.
He meets a cheeky teenage girl and they develop a friendship. She moves away and the relationship continues via mailed letters. Throw in a harrowing first person account of a character's imprisonment and torture during WWII, oh and also a dimensional portal at the bottom of the well and... well it's a slow-burn but otherwise haunting tale. If you prefer a more grounded (and shorter) book check out Norwegian Wood, Haruki's break-out love story that sold 4 million copies in Japan alone.
Magic surrealism... absurdist scifi... afrocentric fantasy...
All good descriptions of Sorry to Bother You, yet none will prepare for the madness once those lights dim.
Cassius "Cash" Green lives in his uncle's garage in Oakland, California. Struggling to pay bills, he accepts a job at a telemarketer. Calling white folks results in click after click... until fellow cubicle-dweller Danny Glover instructs Cash to use his 'white voice.' That's when the fun starts. When Cash finds success and gets promoted to the upper floor, where the best of the best sell weapons of mass destruction, indentured servants and **********.
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Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Brian K. Vaughan is a creative genius. Nothing new there. Along with writing on the tv show Lost, and creating the graphic novel series Y: The Last Man and also Saga--anything he's involved in, I'm game.
So when Paper Girls, dropped, I rushed Hi De Ho comics for my copy.
Whoa doesn't begin to describe it.
In the wee hours of the morning after Halloween, circa mid-80s, we join a gang of 12 year old girls delivering newspapers in their suburb when
an invasion from the future engulfs the town. Chaos reigns. The girls, of course, travel here and there, fighting enemies at every turn and encountering strange gizmos from the future, all while trying to make sense of the warring factions and a God-like old man tasked with keeping the fabric of space time from ripping apart.
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What to say? One of my favorite novels of all time, and I'm not alone: the book won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for literature, in addition to plenty others. As far as awards go, I generally enjoy Pulitzer winners. Yet the accolades didn't prepare me for Wao.
The gist: the story follows Dominican boy Oscar de León through a humorous albeit pained childhood and adolescence, in which our morbidly-obese nerd strives for nothing more than to make it with a girl. All while a curse follows his family from the Dominican Republic (which the family fled during the Dominican diaspora, the political set forth in detail) to Paterson, New Jersey. Throw in a slew of references from comic books, sci-fi lit, D&D, comic books, plus footnotes and mucho Spanish slang, and Wao is a tasty brain-tickling stew.