Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Books -- Also, If You're Reading This

     ...Then my plan to save time has worked.  I need to make an early start of it today, so I'm posting tonight.  Wait, that doesn't make sense -- you're reading this about nine hours after I wrote it.

     Posting about what?  How about Lionel Shriver?  I finished her novel The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 several weeks ago and found it rewarding reading, a close-up look into the abyss of economic collapse through the lens of several generations of an extended family.  Generally well-written and ultimately humane; Shriver has one visible seam typical of mainstream writers doing speculative fiction -- but it's a forgivable one, no worse than anything you might find in Vonnegut.  She is a storyteller, her prose usually effortless, her plotting not quite invisible but deft enough. 

     Having read one Shriver novel, when The New Republic showed up at the used-book store, I didn't hesitate.  This one, too, is a kind of spec-fic, seeing as how it's set in a part of Portugal that does not, in fact, exist.  It's a story about journalism, terrorism, and just how far bored or desperate men might go.  By turns funny and profound, with an interesting ending.  I liked it.

     Shriver is an outsider's outsider and her perspective is rarely predictable.  If you read Rand and Vonnegut, R. A. Lafferty and Avram Davidson, you might enjoy her work.

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