Lit or Miss: Kling, Amis, Asher, Meloy

Here are some quickie reviews of what I’ve been reading, and a word of advice on whether you should stand up, put on your coat, and drive to your local bookstore stat, or, if you should wait for the film to come out on DVD and then not see it.

"Holiday Inn," by Kevin Kling: I gave this one a pretty thorough going-over here. Minnesota storyteller Kevin Kling writes almost two dozen stories with holiday tie-ins ranging from the Fourth of July to Mother’s Day to Grandma’s Marathon. With bonus footage of the time Kling got on-the-job training in "hobo law." In the style of nonfiction. READ IT.

"The Rachel Papers" by Martin Amis: Amis’s first novel, published in 1973, is a chronicle of Charles Highway’s final months as a certified teenager, spent mostly trying to woo Rachel away from her American boyfriend. Highway, a hilariously and super unlikeable character, is deliberate and precise, and plots his life right down to where he will be standing and how the light will be hitting him when he delivers his well-scripted thoughts on art to Rachel. Fiction. READ IT. NOTE: Frankly, I’m stunned that the 1989 movie didn’t make more of a splash. It’s a Ferris Bueller-esque musuem of late 1980s awesomeness.

"13 Reasons Why" by Jay Asher: This YA fiction describes the people and gossip that are the impetus behind a high school girl’s suicide. The girl leaves behind a stack of cassette tapes that reveal how she went from new girl in school to gossip fodder to unwelcome gropes. These tapes are sent to the people she holds responsible, who must then mail the cassettes on to the next person on the list. Zoiks. Technically fine, reads a bit like an Afterschool Special. The message: Be nice to people. I’m curious about what teens look for in their lit, and can’t figure out if this would have appealed to me in 1992. Young Adult Fiction. Skip It.

"Let It Be," by Colin Meloy: This is part of the 33 1/3 series, in which authors write about an album they consider influential. In this one, Colin Meloy of The Decemberists writes about the 1984 album by The Replacements, "Let It Be." Meloy’s approach is more about growing up in the 1980s, access to MTV, flipping through music bins, and playing broom-guitar than it is about the band. This is fine with me. I have a raging crush on Colin Meloy based solely on his Morrissey covers and this book. This was a greedy read: Meloy and I are about the same age — mid 30s — and his tween years in relations to music are similar to my own. Of course, he went on to be a famous rock star, and I’m sitting here blogging about how he is a famous rock star. Nonfiction. Read it.

I read a lot of books. Lit or Miss is a Friday feature, providing up to three sentence-like phrases, reviewing what I’ve recently read and encouraging you to tell me what you’re reading. You know you wanna. Get your book on.