Some Kind of Fairy Tale is an atmospheric modern day fairy tale set in a small English village near the woods. The novel begins with the mysterious reappearance of a woman who disappeared twenty years before. The initial explanation she gives is vague, and the one she later gives infuriates her brother with its unbelievability. Is she lying to hide a shameful or incriminating secret? Did something traumatic happen to her that made her subconscious mind translate the memory into something more tolerable? Is she crazy? Could it be real? While this mystery unfolds, regular life unfolds for these characters as well, as they deal with anger, guilt, fear of growing up, or growing older, illness, and the painful awkwardness of social interactions. Graham Joyce's writing style is terrific - while I would classify this as literary fiction, it is at the same time an escape from (or within?) literary fiction.
Barber illuminates the issues surrounding our culture of consumption, describing the market mania that misdirects our lives, choking out our more vital concerns as individuals and as a nation. Besides producing a vapid character in the populace, consumer culture acts in direct opposition to the needs of a democratic government. This compelling study makes a convincing case for re-evaluating many recent legislative actions, and for citizens to recognize, speak out and act for our true imperative interests rather than market-manufactured "needs".
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Padgett Powell is funny and deep and very brave in his recent fiction. His last novel, Interrogative Mood, consisted entirely of questions, sometimes annoying, but more often than not, strangely witty. His new book, You & Me, features two nameless characters conversing, Waiting for Godot style about very little. Brief chapters direct skewed talk at subjects mostly having to do with language, and if you love language as much as I do, Powell's use/misuse of our mother tongue will have you in stitches for the length of the book. Full of jokes and tales that are neither jokes nor tales, but tropes in the southern idiom, that mock and chuckle and tease us always a step ahead of the reader. Pure pleasure.
Mr. Magary's first novel is an excellent look at what happens when science develops a way to prevent aging. At first illegal and only found via back alley physicians, soon "The Cure" -- a series of painful injections -- is made available to all. The benefits seem incredible -- eternal youth, diseases associated with old age (such as Alzheimer's) are virtually wiped out, and people have the ability to start their lives over...and over and over again. But soon serious repercussions arise -- populations explode, resources become scarce, a fanatic religious cult gains power and euthanasia is government sanctioned. And what makes this novel even more interesting -- as if that was needed -- is its format: a series of personal blog entries from a computer found in the year 2093. Part science fiction and part satire, The Postmortal is a thrilling, disturbing and imaginative look at a world completely changed.