Sunday, May 1, 2016

Books: What Have You Been Reading Lately? : Barton, Offutt, Beukes

 

THE WIDOW  by Fiona Barton Hardcover, 336 pages.  Published February 16th 2016 by NAL  Fiction.
 
25734248Too bad the Marketing Hype Machine compared The Widow to Girl On The Train and Gone Girl. True, they are all thrillers but The Widow deserves to be assessed on it's own. Like Girl On The Train, this is a first novel from a UK woman with solid newspaper experience. Like Girl On The Train, The Widow is told from multiple points of view. Girl On The Train was told through three first person narrators. The only point of view in first person is that of Jeanne, the Widow of the title. In The Widow, we are treated to third person accounts of the Reporter, The Detective Inspector, and one other. Sad and disturbing, The Widow reads like a police procedural, but a damn good one with plenty of flavor. How well do married couples know each other after falling into years of complacency? The Widow is definitely worth checking out for fans of thrillers, mystery, and detective fiction.

from the Goodreads description:
When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen... 
But that woman’s husband died last week. And Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore. 
There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.  
Now there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage.


MY FATHER, THE PORNOGRAPHER  by Chris Offutt   Hardcover, 272 pages.  Published February 9th 2016 by Atria Books  Memoir, biography.
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An impressive read, disturbing and sad throughout. Anyone who did not have an ideal relationship with a parent while growing up can empathize with the struggles of noted writer Chris Offutt in understanding his father, Andrew Offutt. 
As the oldest son growing up in the Appalachia region of Kentucky, Chris learned the hard way to be a supportive mentor to his younger siblings in the absence of his isolationist father, who shut himself into his office and wrote fiction all day. While his mother also supported and encouraged her children, she took a passive role when it came to the demands of the father. 
When Andrew Offutt passes away, Chris takes on the task of organizing his overflowing office. He learns that while his father was best known for writing science fiction and fantasy, he made his living from pornography, written under various pseudonyms. By researching his fathers files, notes and memorabilia Chris attempts to discover the father he really never knew. 
Andrew Offutt was one of the guests at the first science fiction convention I attended in Columbus, Ohio in 1972. I was impressed with his wit, intelligence and public persona. It's shocking to learn about the person he was on the inside.
I admire the bravery of Chris Offutt to share this story and his feelings in such a public fashion. Fascinating reading, and highly recommended. 

from the Goodreads description:
After inheriting 400 novels of pornography written by his father in the 1970s and ‘80s, critically acclaimed author Chris Offutt sets out to make sense of a complicated father-son relationship in this carefully observed, beautifully written memoir.
When Andrew Offutt died, his son, Chris, inherited a desk, a rifle, and eighteen hundred pounds of pornographic fiction. Andrew had been considered the “king of twentieth-century smut,” with a writing career that began as a strategy to pay for his son’s orthodontic needs and soon took on a life of its own, peaking during the 1970s when the commercial popularity of the erotic novel reached its height.

BROKEN MONSTERS by Laura Beukes  Paperback, 464 pages . Published June 16th 2015 by Mulholland Books.  Fiction.                             
                                                      Fascinating reading. Starts out with discovery of serial killer victim, with some horrific elements. Continues as a standard crime novel / police investigation procedural. 23341578 ntroduces a wide variety of interesting and complex characters. Life in Detroit, a mix of urban blight and economic depravity. Takes a supernatural turn towards the end. Characters to become immersed in and care about. I want to read more by this skilled, insightful writer.

from the Goodreads description:
Detective Gabriella Versado has seen a lot of bodies, but this one is unique even by Detroit's standards: half boy, half deer, somehow fused together. As stranger and more disturbing bodies are discovered, how can the city hold on to a reality that is already tearing at its seams? If you're Detective Versado's geeky teenage daughter, Layla, you commence a dangerous flirtation with a potential predator online. If you're desperate freelance journalist Jonno, you do whatever it takes to get the exclusive on a horrific story. If you're Thomas Keen, known on the street as TK, you'll do what you can to keep your homeless family safe--and find the monster who is possessed by the dream of violently remaking the world.

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