Saturday, May 09, 2009

Book reviews

Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk

With Chuck Palahnuik, you know that shocks are going to come fast and furious and that the conventions of most literature are going to be cast aside. But it the success of his satire that ultimately determines the success of his narratives, and unlike his last couple of novels, this unrepentant send up of both modern suburban America and totalitarian states is spot-on. Pygmy is the title character, born in an unnamed country consumed with hatred and fear of America, he and other students are trained from age four to infiltrate the United States and perpetuate a terrorist attack. He is sent to middle America as an exchange student and the descriptions Palahnuik writes as his "reports" are a stinging mockery of the hypocrisy of modern suburban life. Funny, shocking and terrifying, he holds up a mirror to America and the reflection is vain, shallow and gluttonous. While certainly not for the faint of heart, those with the wherewithal to finish it with find it a remarkably thoughtful and challenging story.
Pygmy - amazon.com

Sanctuary by Ken Bruen

Jack Taylor still hasn't made it to America. Still in Galway, Ireland and trying to care for an ill and despondent friend, Jack is taunted by a letter claiming that the writer will kill a policeman, a nun and then finally a child unless Taylor can put a stop to it. Jack is ignored by the police and the church and struggles to track down the killer after bodies start turning up. Following Jack around Galway as he attempts to solve the crime and battles his considerable personal demons is by turns...more Jack Taylor still hasn't made it to America. Still in Galway, Ireland and trying to care for an ill and despondent friend, Jack is taunted by a letter claiming that the writer will kill a policeman, a nun and then finally a child unless Taylor can put a stop to it. Jack is ignored by the police and the church and struggles to track down the killer after bodies start turning up. Following Jack around Galway as he attempts to solve the crime and battles his considerable personal demons is by turns amusing and haunting. The city itself is one of the most important characters in the story, and the changing face of that city continually vexes Jack. This is one of the shortest Jack Taylor novels and Bruen keeps the pace breathless throughout. The one drawback is that this particular installment does draw on considerable backstory from previous novels, so interested readers should begin with the opening novel The Guards. That's hardly a burden as I think it is one of the finest series in contemporary crime fiction.
Sanctuary - amazon.com

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