April was another very slow month for reading. I spent way too much time doom-scrolling and feeling horrible about the state of the world. The best decision I made all month was re-reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. That book is a classic, and was exactly what I needed to improve my mood.
Kill the Farm Boy is a silly book that sends up and undermines some well-worn clichés of the fantasy genre’s hero narrative. It asks questions like “What does it mean to be the Chosen One?” and “Who deserves to be a protagonist?” and then unloads goat poop on them. This succeeds with varying results.
The Tsar of Love and Techno is a hilarious and affecting novel masquerading as a short story collection. It has a lot in common with David Mitchell’s genre-hopping patchwork masterpieces, but here the linked stories don’t feel quite so much like a stylistic exercise (and I say that as a huge fan of Mitchell’s work).
Kaptara is very weird and very funny. Both come with the territory whenever Chip Zdarsky is at the helm, but Kaptara makes Zdarsky’s work on Howard the Duck seem downright traditional. At a basic level, Kaptara is a foul-mouthed piss-take version of classic pulpy scifi adventure stories, but it also features a diverse cast and bizarre, gorgeous art.
Bream Gives Me Hiccups is actor Jesse Eisenberg’s debut short story collection. Although it doesn’t feel like a vanity project, it is definitely a little derivative. Eisenberg’s work is in the same wheelhouse as Woody Allen’s short fiction, and doesn’t always fare well by comparison.
In an ideal world, Horrorstör would deliver a perfect combination of surreal horror and retail satire. Unfortunately, although there are a few clever touches throughout, the book falls flat.
An Unwelcome Quest is the third book in the Magic 2.0 series. The first two weren’t perfect by any means, but they were at least funny and light on their feet whereas this one quickly wears out its welcome. It’s a huge shame, because this series was exactly what I was looking for when I wanted to have a few laughs during my commute. One definite bright side is that Luke Daniels continues to bring his A-game as narrator. Also, I occasionally enjoyed the last quarter or so after gritting my teeth and slogging through the fairly dire middle.
Rat Queens is a modern spin on classic fantasy tropes that plays within those boundaries while also subverting clichés, and does so with a light touch. It has a great premise: a group of rowdy adventurers in a fantasy world fight, fuck, and generally incite civic destruction. The twist is that they’re all women, and they are surrounded by other adventuring parties with similar mixes of race and gender.
Published: October 28, 2010 Publisher: Orbit Genre(s): Science Fiction Format: Paperback Length: 560 pages Version 43 is a weird book. If the reviews on Goodreads and elsewhere are any indication, it’s the sort of book that inspires polarizing reactions. It’s long at over 500 pages. It’s gory, vulgar and occasionally squick-inducing even though it isn’t … Read more
Published: August 20th, 2013 Publisher: Archaia Entertainment, LLC Genre(s): Graphic Novel, Comedy Format: Hardcover Length: 136 pages The Thrilling Adventure Hour is a long-running stage-show and podcast with an old-fashioned radio-drama sensibility. Every episode features recurring characters and serial adventures acted out by actors and comedians in front of a live audience. Although some familiarity … Read more
Published: January 11th, 2011 Publisher: Audible, Inc. Genre(s): Fiction, Comedy Format: Audiobook Length: 23 hrs and 41 mins As you might imagine, Skippy Dies opens with the death of the titular character, one Daniel Juster (nicknamed Skippy). Skippy dies of mysterious circumstances at a donut shop named Ed’s, then the story jumps back several months … Read more
Published: February 26, 2013 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Genre(s): Fiction, Comedy Format: eBook Length: 369 pages Egon Loeser, protagonist of Ned Beauman’s The Teleportation Accident, is an asshole. He’s obsessed with sex, contemptuous of his friends, hopelessly infatuated with a girl who doesn’t return his affections, and completely untalented as a theatrical director. In the hands of … Read more
Published: January 11th 2012 Publisher: Little, Brown and Company Genre(s): Fantasy, Spy Thriller, Comedy Format: Hardcover Length: 486 pages When the heroine of The Rook wakes up, she finds herself standing in a park in the pouring rain, surrounded by dead bodies and with no memory of her life or the events that led her … Read more