The Williamsburg Book Club Message Board › TIME TO VOTE: FEBRUARY
The poll to vote for February's selection is up until next Tuesday morning (12/27). Descriptions below. Vote here.
The Alcoholic by Jonathan Ames (Author), Dean Haspiel (Illustrator) (136 pages)
With stints as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter under his belt, Ames tries his hand for the first time at the graphic novel. Beautifully illustrated in moody, expressionist panels by Haspiel, The Alcoholic tells the story of Ames' alter ego, Jonathan A., and his self-destructive love affair with the bottle. Jonathan's taste for liquor begins, as for many with his affliction, during illicit high-school parties. From there, his binges follow their own unique trajectory, keeping pace with an undistinguished college career and following him into an oddly successful livelihood as writer of hard-boiled detective fiction. Ames lends a quirky flavor to Jonathan's occasionally nightmarish narrative by eavesdropping on his relationship with his aging great-aunt; the perplexing estrangement of his best friend, Sal; a heartbreaking romance with a woman he refers to as "San Francisco"; and a drunken midlife tryst with an octogenarian dwarf. Yet Jonathan's tale is ultimately a universal one, reflecting the struggles all of us have in navigating the tributaries of career and relationships while keeping personal demons at bay.
After the Apocalypse: Stories by Maureen F. McHugh (264 pages)
"Incisive, contemporary, and always surprising, McHugh's second collection confronts near-future life with an ironic and particular eye. Her characters live with zombies, struggle to make ends meet on the Arizona–Mexico border, and cope with China's descent into capitalism in stories that stretch the boundaries of imagination."—Publishers Weekly Top 10 Best of the Year
"The best stories in this mesmerizing collection from the L.A. writer are the ones that elude categorization—the struggles of a troubled doll maker in "Useless Things," the fantasies of an impulsive man in "Going to France." It's the ordinary and everyday that we should be afraid of, not the prospect of big explosions and world-ending catastrophes. This is a pro stretching a genre to its limits—subverting, inverting, perverting, disturbing."—Los Angeles Magazine
The Big Clock by Kenneth Fearing (200 pages)
George Stroud is a hard-drinking, tough-talking, none-too-scrupulous writer for a New York media conglomerate that bears a striking resemblance to Time, Inc. in the heyday of Henry Luce. One day, before heading home to his wife in the suburbs, Stroud has a drink with Pauline, the beautiful girlfriend of his boss, Earl Janoth. Things happen. The next day Stroud escorts Pauline home, leaving her off at the corner just as Janoth returns from a trip. The day after that, Pauline is found murdered in her apartment. Janoth knows there was one witness to his entry into Pauline's apartment on the night of the murder; he knows that man must have been the man Pauline was with before he got back; but he doesn't know who he was. Janoth badly wants to get his hands on that man, and he picks one of his most trusted employees to track him down: George Stroud, who else?
How does a man escape from himself? No book has ever dramatized that question to more perfect effect than The Big Clock, a masterpiece of American noir.
The Friends of Eddie Coyle: A Novel by George V. Higgins (192 pages)
"The first thing to know about George V. Higgins' The Friends of Eddie Coyle is that it directly entered the crime-fiction canon upon its 1970 publication. The second thing to know is that it holds up as both a writer's-writer thriller and as popular pulp, with Dennis Lehane introducing Picador's new 40th-anniversary reissue of the novel by heralding it as 'the game-changing crime novel of the last fifty years'—a moderate claim compared to that of Elmore Leonard, who hails it as the best crime novel period." —Troy Patterson, SLATE
"Simultaneously a brilliant thriller and a cold and convincing business prospectus of felony--a profession that traps both sides, gunmen and policemen, into ceaseless compulsory degardations."—The New Yorker