Recent Books — McElroy, Rendell, McDonald, Savage


  • Night Soul and Other Stories by Joseph McElroy. I just don’t enjoy short stories. These seem well-written and intriguing, but the lack of plot and character development due to the strictures of the form just doesn’t work for me. Giving up.
  • Portobello by Ruth Rendell. Given the author I expected a straight up mystery but this is an odd little tale of characters along Portobello Road and their obsessions and delusions and misbehaviors. Enjoyable but not hard-hitting.
  • The Dervish House by Ian McDonald. Somehow in my trip through the science fiction canon I have missed McDonald, and that has been a mistake. A good tale of a near future Istanbul awash in nano tech. The characters and ideas were much better than the plot, the story got a little too Dan Brown-ish in parts for me, and overall there were too many moving parts. A better book is in here, focused on just 1-2 of the characters and their stories. But still, a good read.
  • Firmin by Sam Savage. I had no memory of why I bought this book, but what a quirky little tale. A hyper intelligent rat aspires to rise above his essential rat nature, with inevitable triumphs and crashing failures. Not unlike our own lives. Enjoyable.

This last book reminds me of how valuable it is to search out small publishers and see what they are emitting. Coffee House, Graywolf, etc. With the consolidation among the major publishers and the collapse of retail book selling, you can’t rely on the mainstream to bring interesting writing to you.