What is A/S Reading? – No. 16

Before we get to all the fantastic books we’ve been reading, forgive us if we mention a few exciting things on the horizon. You might have seen us advertise our event “From Flash Fiction to Longform Journalism: Length and Format in the Digital Age” happening at Greenlight Bookstore this Monday. You can find more information here. If you are in the New York area, you should definitely drop by and say hello. We are also honored to be part of Sabotage Reviews‘ annual Saboteur Awards. If you liked what you saw in Issue 2, we would be thrilled to have your vote. Learn more about it here. But, enough about all that, let’s talk about some books! This is, What is A/S Reading?

This Week’s Episode: Death, more death, and dogs. Also, one of the dogs is dead.


Publicist Vicki Lame is currently reading Mark Z. Danielewski’s Only Revolutions and isn’t even going to pretend she can say something articulate about it so early in her reading (though she was a fan of House of Leaves). So, instead, here are some books she’s read recently.

Only Revolutions is going to break my brain. In a good way. But, I’m not going to talk about that. Instead, I offer up two lovely young adult novels I just finished.

John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars made me soooo sad. Oh my god SAD. But, I absolutely loved it. (Maybe I just like being sad??? Whatever, it was funny too! I swear.) This is a book about dying (protagonist Hazel has terminal cancer and you know it from the start) and living (seriously, she falls in love and goes to Europe and learns about the joys of champagne… mmmm… champagne…) and heartbreak (we can’t always keep those we love) and that, it doesn’t matter how much time in this world you have, if something wonderful happens to you, just take it! You deserve it, dammit. Green’s latest is funny, tragic, and about all the things that matter.

I also read Jennifer E. Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. This book is somehow also about all the things that matter, but masquerades as a book about meeting a cute boy on a plane. And it is delightful! There are serious family issues, Charles Dickens, and some of the best flirty plane banter ever! If you are a fan of Sarah Dessen, you’ll love this.

And I now think it is abundantly clear from my somewhat spastic reviews that Only Revolutions has already broken my brain.

Managing Editor Evan Simko-Bednarski just finished Libra by Don DeLillo.

A fictional account of the JFK assassination, it’s an exquisite work, a perfectly balanced novel. Despite the narrative jumping backwards and forwards through time, it builds a momentum towards the inevitable event that makes it almost impossible to put down. For a novel to have such a complex structure  and still, at its most fundamental level, be a page-turner is a rare and commendable feat. The inclusion of Nicolas Branch, a CIA historian trying to make sense of unending and seemingly unrelated facts at some unspecified future point is a particularly artful touch — he is DeLillo, acknowledging the impossible reality of the book. Once one becomes accustomed to the fact that in DeLillo’s world, everyone — from communists to hustlers to housewives to dancers and, of course, paramilitary assassins — *everyone* talks about the world in a high-minded and philosophical way, the book becomes an amazing treatise on information, control and self-perception. Highly recommended.

Managing Editor Laura McMillan is reading Eminent Dogs, Dangerous Men by Donald McCaig:

Despite one of the worst titles I’ve ever heard, this book is charming and educational. It’s McCaig’s account of traveling to Scotland to find a good young Border Collie to bring home to his farm in West Virginia. The dialect is infectious and the dogs’ intelligence and athleticism are astonishing. I just finished a passage in which McCaig imagines conducting an interview in heaven with Sirrah, the beloved sheepdog of 19th-century writer James Hogg. It’s bizarre. Recommended for fans of dogs, Scotland, and James Herriot.

2 Responses to “What is A/S Reading? – No. 16”
  1. David Bogoslaw says:

    Just heard about the panel A/S is moderating tonight at Greenlight Bookstore. I wish I could be there but can’t, so I’m wondering if (or actually requesting that) anyone is recording it (on either video or audio) for those of us who can’t make it. I bet it would be of interest to many people outside of Bklyn, too, which suggests the need for a video archive of these events. Good luck tonight!

    • Vicki says:

      Hi David! We will definitely be doing our best to record in some fashion so everyone can have access to it. Keep an eye on the blog in the next few weeks as it will likely go up in a post-event piece. Thanks for inquiring! Best, Vicki

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