Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Picks 'n Pans 

After filling my head with all sorts of conflicting reviews and then trying to block them all out, I finally read VERNON GOD LITTLE. Well, in full disclosure, I finally read the first 48 pages because the book didn't pass the 50 page test. All the while I kept shaking my head, hearing Peggy Lee's voice in my head sing,"Is that all there is to a Booker Prize winner?" I suppose I understand intellectually why DBC Pierre's book appealed so much to the British masses, but intellect isn't the only part of me that ought to be engaged while reading a book. Considering I spent half the time internally correcting the word "f**ken" (which appeared about every third word or so) to a more grammatically correct form. Frankly, VERNON GOD LITTLE was like sitting through a painfully unfunny Saturday Night Live sketch that refuses to end, no matter how much the advertisers clamor for time to show their little commercials. Besides, if I want to read a dialect-heavy book in a teenager's voice that is consistently funny, I'll reread my copy of Chrissie Glazebrook's THE MADOLESCENTS again--a book that didn't get anywhere near the Booker longlist (hell, it probably wasn't even submitted.)

And I thought I could attribute the above reaction to a recent reading slump until I picked up Robert Eversz's BURNING GARBO. A book that's funny, brisk, violent, and wonderful. The protagonist, Nina Zero, started out life (as told in her first appearance, 1996's SHOOTING ELVIS) as apple-pie California blonde Mary Alice Baker, who was a department store photographer capturing babies on film until her ne'er-do-well squeeze asks her to deliver a package for him. An explosion at LAX, betrayal, and lots of bodies later, she's become Nina, a hard-edged paparazza with a prison record. I love her to bits, and though I've a special fondness for ELVIS, I think GARBO is probably the best written and best plotted of the books. In short, it rocks.

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