L8r G8r — A Novel Using Internet-speak

The quest to feature one 2007 novel for each letter of the alphabet continues.  L8r G8r (as in “Later Gator”) by Lauren Myracle represents the letter “L,” and it looks really freakin’ cool.  It is the third in a series of young adult novels (although there’s no reason the book can’t be enjoyed by old adults, too, like me).  The first book in the series was TTYL (Talk To You Later) and the second was TTFN (TaTa For Now). 

The novel is done in a style where it is built out of instant messages.  I want to read it not only for the story, but to see how the author brings this style to life.  Plus, being an internet addict, the whole concept appeals to me.

Fantastic Fiction offers this description of this unique novel:

The winsome threesome say “l8r” to high school in this sequel to the New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestsellers ttyl and ttfn

Through their instant messages, three inseparable friends have shared the ups and downs of high school. They’ve survived a flirtatious teacher, a witchy classmate, a pot-smoking smoocher, a Care Bear-toting stalker, and much, much more. Now it’s their senior year, and Angela, Zoe, and Maddie–otherwise know as the winsome threesome–are feeling invincible. Too bad Jana, the Queen Bee who made their sophomore year a nightmare, is on the warpath again.

The Oops Wrong Cookie blog says:

Don’t let the unusual format turn you off from a touching, well-written story. Yes, even though you may cringe at the thought of reading all lowercase typing, 3 different fonts (including blue type), and abbreviations like “cu”, “ur”, “plz” and “g2g”, it’s such a fun story. Honestly, there isn’t much IM language in here as I thought there would be. It’s really a novel in dialogue. Just think of it that way and give it a try.

You can view the author’s website at laurenmyracle.com or read her blog here.

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Killing Johnny Fry: A Sexistential Novel

Sex, sex, and more sex.  That’s what it sounds like this book consists of.  It’s not due out until December 26th, but you can pre-order it at amazon.  It’s called Killing Johnny Fry: A Sexistential Novel, and it’s by bestseller Walter Mosley

Tom Callahan at bookreporter.com had this to say about the novel:

“Well, anybody who dismisses Killing Johnny Fry as pornography or salacious misses not only the point of the book but deprives themselves of the pleasure of reading one of America’s greatest writers. Yes, there is some frank, really frank, sex in this book, but it is not an erotic novel by any means. Mosley coined the term “sexistential noir” to describe this work. It is a good description because the book is not about sex.Consider the first sentence: “I decided to kill Johnny Fry on a Wednesday, but it was a week before that I was given the reason.” That tells us right away that those expecting cheap thrills will be disappointed; Mosley plunges us right into the midnight world of noir.”

Here is some information on the author from Bloomsbury USA

“Walter Mosley is one of the most versatile and admired writers in America today. He is the author of more than 25 critically acclaimed books, including the major bestselling mystery series featuring Easy Rawlins. His work has been translated into 21 languages and includes literary fiction, science fiction, political monographs, and a young adult novel. His short fiction has been widely published, and his nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times magazine and the Nation, among other publications. He is the winner of numerous awards, including an O. Henry Award, a Grammy, and the PEN American Center’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He lives in New York City.”

You can visit the author’s website here.

The Journal of Dora Damage (First and Last Novel of Deceased Author)

The Journal of Dora Damage: A Novel by Belinda Starling is a historical novel about erotic publishing in Victorian London, bookbinding, and the binds of sex, class, and race.  Unfortunately, shortly before her debut novel was published, author Starling died of complications following surgery to have a cyst removed from her bile duct.  She was just 34 years old. 

This excerpt from The Guardian Unlimited describes the book’s plot:

“Scraping a living in the general drizzle and damp of 1860s Lambeth are the Damages – wife Dora, her bookbinder husband Peter and their epileptic daughter Lucinda. Angular and anxious, narrator Dora is basically a domestic drudge, scuttling between moneylenders and cockroaches, fearful that Lucinda’s “falling sickness” will land her in an asylum. As Peter’s arthritic hands seize up, so does the supply of work; he sinks into impotent rage and pain-relieving opium addiction. Impecuniousness turns into desperate poverty, and Dora faces two choices: “the whorehouse or the workhouse”. Yet she is enterprising despite her timidity. Persuading her reluctant husband to let her work under his direction, Dora and apprentice Jack Tapster (a nicer version of the Artful Dodger, although, as the surname implies, a boozer) begin to save the business.”

Dora’s work doesn’t earn much money at first, but when her artful covers come to the attention of the privileged and ruthless elite, she begins to make a profit by secretly publishing pornographic books.

Belinda Starling was also a talented singer.  To see a few photos of her, including pictures of her onstage, go here.

In the Country of Men

In the Country of Men is the debut novel of Hisham Matar who was born into a Libyan family in New York and grew up in Tripoli and Cairo.  Ron Charles writes in his review for the Washington Post:

“Behind reports of dissidents intimidated, tortured and killed by the world’s repressive regimes hide the subtler, more obscure stories of their young children. They experience a world overcast by two shadows: parents trying to shield them from alarm and Orwellian governments denying that anything is amiss. Writing from his current home in London, Libyan author Hisham Matar has captured this plight in his first novel, a haunting, poetic story about a 9-year-old boy struggling to comprehend what’s happening to his family in the vise of Col. Moammar Gaddafi’s reign of terror. In the Country of Men, which was shortlisted for last year’s Man Booker Prize, includes frightening glimpses of the dictatorship’s abuses and Libya’s brand of Islamic puritanism, but Matar focuses primarily on the psychological damage wreaked on his young narrator.”

Lorraine Adams compares the novel to 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 in her review for the Herald Tribune.

Like the character in the story, the author’s father was targeted by Gaddafi’s government.  Read his real-life story in The Independent, where he writes:

“What I want is to know what happened to my father. If he is alive, I wish to speak with him and see him. If he has broken the law, he ought to be tried and given a chance to defend himself. And if he is dead, then I want to know how, where and when it happened. I want a date, a detailed account and the location of his body.”

Heart-Shaped Box

H.  It’s the eighth letter of the alphabet and the one I’m currently on in my ongoing alphabetical feature of 2007 novels.  Today’s book is Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill (which is actually the pen name of Stephen King’s son, Joseph King).  Lev Grossman sums up the plot this way in his Time Magazine review:

“Heart-Shaped Box is about a very rich and very washed-up rock star named Judas Coyne. At 54 Coyne is jaded and cruel and bored and emotionally shut-down, living in rural splendor in a converted farmhouse with his various disposable goth girlfriends, his recording days long behind him. He likes to collect gruesome artifacts like snuff films. ‘When Danny Wooten, his personal assistant, told him there was a ghost for sale on the Internet and asked did he want to buy it, Jude didn’t even need to think.'”

He then goes on to state:

“…every artist has to work in the shadow of his or her father-in-art, and symbolically, Oedipally overcome him, and in Hill’s case his father-in-art is also his literal, biological father. Heart-Shaped Box isn’t about appeasing fathers, and learning to love them, and seeing that they, too, are human beings and not monsters. It’s not about that at all. It’s about knowing your father, and finding him, and then killing him. That’s what the best artists do.”

Daydreamingmom has this to say about the book in her blog:

“Run out and buy this book now. Seriously…it is that good. I have heard several people say it was great for a debut novel. But this book would be great even if it wasn’t a debut. It had just the right amount of creep factor to make me a bit skittish when I was reading in bed after midnight. It’s been awhile since that has happened.”

Here is an excerpt from the book:

“He had a stiff and worn noose that had been used to hang a man in England at the turn of the century, Aleister Crowley’s childhood chessboard, and a snuff film. Of all the items in Jude’s collection, this last was the thing he felt most uncomfortable about possessing. It had come to him by way of a police officer, a man who had worked security at some shows in L.A. The cop had said the video was diseased. He said it with some enthusiasm. Jude had watched it and felt that he was right. It was diseased. It had also, in an indirect way, helped hasten the end of Jude’s marriage. Still he held onto it.

Many of the objectsin his private collection of the grotesque and the bizarre were gifts sent to him by his fans. It was rare for him to actually buy something for the collection himself. But when Danny Wooten, his personal assistant, told him there was a ghost for sale on the Internet, and asked did he want to buy it, Jude didn’t even need to think. It was like going out to eat, hearing the special, and deciding you wanted it without even looking at the menu. Some impulses required no consideration.”

Click on the links above to read the full reviews, or visit Joe Hill’s blog here.

The Game (A Novella)

The Game is a children’s novella of fantasy with the story set in Ireland.  It’s also the book I’m highlighting for the letter “G” in my alphabetical listing featuring novels released in 2007.  (Which I’d better hurry and finish before 2007 is gone!)  Scifi Dimensions recently reviewed this book:

“Living on the outskirts of contemporary London, Hayley is a normal if timid girl, browbeaten by her grandmother but nurtured in spirit by her grandfather…

It doesn’t take long for Hayley to seriously put out grandma, and to be shunted off to never-before-met cousins in Ireland.  But what’s meant as punishment turns out as liberation as Hayley, an orphaned only child, is caught up in the embrace of her numerous aunts and cousins, who induct her into The Game, a scavenger hunt across the mythosphere…

The Game is perfect for young adult readers and all fans of high fantasy.  Jones’ knack for showing young people facing extraordinary challenge in magical worlds is on full display here.  Alternate worlds are always nearby in the works of Diana Wynne Jones.  It’s where you get to by going in the direction of the corner of your eye.” 

Read the entire review here.  Or you can read a biography of the author at Harper Collins Children’s Books, which begins:

“Diana Wynne Jones was born in August 1934 in London, where she had a chaotic and unsettled childhood against the background of World War II. The family moved around a lot, finally settling in rural Essex. As children, Diana and her two sisters were deprived of a good, steady supply of books by a father, ‘who could beat Scrooge in a meanness contest’. So, armed with a vivid imagination and an insatiable quest for good books to read, she decided that she would have to write them herself.  She was extremely dyslexic, so when she told her parents she wanted to be a writer, they just laughed.

Diana Wynne Jones is also the author of Howl’s Moving Castle, which was adapated into an anime movie.