What is A/S Reading? – No.8

Oh, hi there! What’s that? Oh, it’s just What is A/S is reading?

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Armchair/Shotgun’s brand new (and yet-to-be-hazed) Publicist Vicki Lame leads things off  with Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus.

The opening scene is listed under one word: anticipation. And from that first word I was immediately captivated and drawn into the darkly magical world of two young lovers, Celia and Marco, who are pitted against one another in a competition using powers they don’t quite understand. Every page mesmerizes and leaves the reader with a growing sense of expectation that they are about to see something absolutely, death-defyingly, amazing. Please note: I have been informed you will “crave caramel for a fortnight after reading.” Stock up now! (Also, the end papers kind of make me dizzy in the best way.)

Managing Editor Adam Read-Brown recently finished The Psychopath Test, by Jon Ronson.

It’s more interesting than what I’m currently occupying myself with. If you want a quick, hilarious, and interesting read, this is a good choice. Ronson is neurotic and anxiety ridden, and he lets you entirely inside his own brain as he explores the world of psychopaths and tries to decypher what might lie inside their brains. About halfway through the book you’ll be wondering if every other person you meet is certifiable. The book’s cohesiveness leaves something to be desired, but each chapter on its own is a joy. For another paranoid read from Ronson, pick up Them: Adventures With Extremists.

Fiction Editor John M. Cusick has spent six lifetimes reading Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.

The New York Times Book Review calls Mitchell a genius. The five interweaving view-points of Cloud Atlas, each told in a radically different voice, definitely mark him as a master stylist. This is a reincarnation tale, but also a catalog of genres, including historical travelogue, schlocky detective story, and post-apocalyptic thriller. Each is brilliantly executed, though I found myself snoozing through some (shlock is shlock, even when expertly captured) and riveted by others. It’s an uneven book, a technical if somewhat cold work of brilliance.

Managing Editor Laura McMillan just finished Crazy for God, by Frank Schaeffer, Jr.
An improbable but apparently true life story involving a childhood at a Calvinist retreat center in Switzerland (with visits from both Billy Graham and Timothy Leary), adolescence in British boarding schools and a brief career as an artist, documentary films that help boost the American Religious Right to power, ending with a sort of breakdown-conversion-redemption narrative–all written by a very funny and cynical man. The whole thing is well-written and unexpected enough in its details to keep me reading, but what I wanted more of was Schaeffer’s writings about his parents and his first daughter, born when he was 18. Those parts glowed with tiny peculiarities and bittersweet familiarities. They were a book about what it’s like to have parents, any parents.
From what I’ve heard, the natural follow-up seems to be Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, the recent companion to Alexandra Fuller’s Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight. I’ll let you know what I think of that one.
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