Monday, July 10, 2006

While I was in Los Angeles last week I finished up Damned If I Do, a book of short stories by Percival Everett. This is the second collection of his I've read and I definitely preferred these, probably because they are more recent and I've consistently thought that his later works are stronger (and funnier) than his earlier ones. The standout story is, of course, "The Appropriation of Cultures" which finds a young black man reclaiming the Confederate flag as a symbol of black power. It's not hard to read it as wish fulfillment on Everett's part, considering he was instrumental in getting the Confederate flag removed from the South Carolina capitol building. That's not to say the rest of the stories aren't any good, because they are. I enjoyed some more than others, but overall they were excellent and I'm glad I didn't give up on his short fiction after the somewhat disappointing first collection I read.


Monday, July 03, 2006

Yesterday was my messed-up YA lit day, I guess. It began with Dreamland by Sarah Dessen, which pinned me to my seat until I finished. It's the story of Caitlin, whose older sister takes off without warning, leaving Caitlin to face the pressures of her family and high school alone. She gets involved with a guy you just know is bad news and finds herself trapped in a destructive situation. It's an intense book, far more than Dessen's others; I was actually shaking during the final confrontation.

Next up was You Don't Know Me by David Klass, which suffered from following Dreamland. Also involving an abusive situation, it was good, if a little uneven in tone, but just not powerful enough to make me forget the other.

Last was Inexcusable by Chris Lynch which I heard about from Daisy. I liked the structure, beginning with a scene where something very bad has potentially happened and flashing back periodically to reveal the lead-up to the present. The narrator is Keir, who is being accused by his friend Gigi of something we're not sure of, and who tells us about his senior year of high school. As he describes his actions on the football field and off, we begin to distrust his view of himself and slowly realize exactly what it is he has done.


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