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Swann's Way
Marcel Proust, Lydia Davis
Norman Rush
The Unknown University
Roberto Bolaño, Laura Healy
Postmodern Belief: American Literature and Religion since 1960 (20/21)
Amy Hungerford
The Fun Stuff: And Other Essays
James Wood
Pop. 1280 - Jim Thompson

About a year and a half ago, ages ago it now seems, there was a flurry of activity around this title among some GR friends and those I whose reviews I stalk, so I bought it—probably the title in a purchase that entitled me to free shipping. It sat here and sat here, garnering little attention, working its way down the list of those I was anxious to read, and then it happened, the event that would send this to the top of my priority list…I started reading Gravity’s Rainbow , and all of the sudden anything else would do: in this case, large print was a plus, suggestions that it was humorous appealed to the I-need-that-right-now part of my brain, and besides, I’ll acquire a better sense of the noir that others seem fond of and which I’ve only experienced in reviews (shameful, my neglect of Hammett, Chandler, et al.), with an additional perk—the possibility of using chiaroscuro in a review, sounding brighter than I am (or aspire to be)—win, win.

In I plunged, ready and willing, only to learn the novel is written in Rube-Speak! Not the dialect of some Southern state or region. Not accents. Not regionalism. Not even the horrific drawl of Haley Barbour (which a responsible parent would have rectified through intensive speech therapy in his youth). No, sir (or ma’am), Rube-Speak! Things were looking bleak. I continued reading reluctantly, ready to abandon another book others liked. And then it happened…the clod, Sherriff, who narrates the novel sets up and accomplishes an amazing feat of treachery, entrapping a blow-hard rival, and murdering two annoyances in the process. Oh boy! The entirely unlikable and unreliable narrator continues his connivery and mayhem, by wit and good luck. At times predictable, frequently funny, one for when you’re reluctant to pick up something else more demanding.