Tag Archives: Victor LaValle

The Devil in Silver

As much as I try not to be literary snob, I am. Romance, mystery, horror, western, sci-fi, unless it’s for class, I make it a point to steer clear of. For me, it’s not the genre itself that is a turn off, but the level of writing, plot development and lack of compelling characters always breaks my heart.

Yeah, the previous post was about Lauren Conrad’s “literary work,” so I guess I am making progress in enjoying genre books for what they are.

Enter Colson Whitehead and Victor LaValle.

Although both have written zombie/horror novels in the last year, Zone One and The Devil in Silver, I’d categorize them as literary genre works because of the elevated level that they’re written.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been enjoying LaValle’s work to the point where I’ve been reading it slower so I could enjoy the last third of the book.

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Pepper is a hot tempered guy who finds himself in a 72-hour hold at a mental hospital because he got into a fight with three police officers.

Pepper isn’t crazy (he thinks), but because the cops don’t feel like processing him at the police station, they drop him off at the metal ward.

It’s one thing to be a mental hospital against your will, it’s another to be there because of lazy cops, and instead of Pepper laying cool until his 72 hours are up, he gets in a string of fights that extend his stay for months.

To make matters worse, the patients are under the impression that the Devil is haunting…living…er…trapped with them in the ward as well.

This book is worth the read and LaValle’s writing is so funny and so crisp that much of the book has been highlighted.

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What I Bought This Month

Yes, I buy more books than I read – blame being in graduate school and writing a thesis – but that hasn’t stopped me from buying books and trying to steal a few chapters on the weekends.

NW: Many readers of Zadie Smith describe her fiction as “hit-or-miss” at best. While everyone drooled over her debut novel White Teeth, I can barely remember the characters. Her universally panned The Autograph Man was one that I liked and On Beauty is considered her masterpiece. Yet despite this novel’s so-so reviews, I’m an unrelenting Zadie Smith fan. Though not as mature in her prose as Toni Morrison, Smith is excellent in describing the anxieties of the middle-class in the 21st century.

The Devil in Silver: I got hooked on Victor LaValle by an NPR segment on his previous novel, Big Machine. Like his previous works, there is a monster haunting the main character and it’s up to him to either escape or defeat the monster. I know many people aren’t into genre fiction, especially where they are monsters and supernatural figures, but his books are so well written that the monster(s) become characters themselves.

The Stranger’s Child: This was another book and author (Alan Hollinghurst) that I heard so much about that as soon as it came out I had to have it…until I saw that the hardcover had those ragged edges and that’s a book pet peeve of mine. The book spans from WWII to present day England. A young poet, who died during the war, has been revealed to have been gay. Despite all the reviews of the book, I’ve managed to stay away from them because I like to be surprised.

The Casual Vacancy: Everyone was hoping the title was rouse and J. K. Rowling’s eleventh book would truly be Harry Potter and the Missing Wand Replacement Acquisition Form. But sadly, it is not and I have to come to terms with the notion that Harry Potter is over.

This is How You Lose Her: I read Junot Diaz’s other novel for a class last year and was moderately pleased by it. I really hadn’t thought of buying his new one (especially in hardback) until other friends said how wonderful the collection of interconnecting stories where. Clearly I’m a sucker for good reviews.

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