Exley by Brock Clarke – Book Review

Exley by Brock Clarke
Published by Algonquin, an imprint of Workman

When Miller’s dad leaves their family, he announces that he is going to join the war in Iraq, and Miller takes him at face value. Miller’s mother, on the other hand, is adamant that her husband could not possibly have gone to Iraq – after all he was too old, too out of shape, too lazy. When Miller continues to insist that his father is in Iraq and letters start showing up, ostensibly from his father, Miller’s mother put him into therapy. Miller’s doctor, who refers to him as M., is a bit pretentious but does seem to have M.’s best interests at heart – if only because he has a crush on M.’s mother. Everything comes to a head when Miller discovers that his father – or someone he assumes is his father – is lying unconscious in the Veteran’s Hospital. In order to return his father to health and to his own life, Miller decides that he must find Exley, whose fictional memoir, “A Fan’s Notes,” is the one thing Miller’s father is truly passionate about in life. He is certain that if he brings Exley to his father, his father will get well again.

Over the last weekend, I found myself in a bit of a reading funk. I had a hard time picking up or concentrating on anything, until I picked up “Exley.” As might be expected of an author whose first book is titled, “An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England,” Brock Clarke has, with “Exley,” written a quirky and fascinating novel. The most immediate thing that captured my attention was the question of whether or not Miller’s father really went to Iraq and whether he was currently lying unconscious in a hospital bed. This brought up an even more intriguing question: if he had not been to Iraq, was Miller simply misinformed and confused, or is he an unreliable narrator? There is, of course, the issue of the man in the hospital, as well as some letters Miller’s mother intercepted, which she believes that Miller wrote and had someone post from an APO address.

This is an incredibly quirky book, with Miller expounding on things his father taught him, which his father learned from Exley, and calling people by their initials and speaking in imprecise dates as his father and Exley both do as well. Although not for the easily offended, Exley is an immensely enjoyable book which I can highly recommend.

Thanks to Beth Fish Reads, who has helped me to become more aware of the imprints I love over the past year, beginning with her Amy Einhorn Perpetual Challenge. Follow her blog for regular spotlights of some of her favorite imprints.

Buy this book from:
Powells.*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound.*
Amazon.*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs – Saturday Story Spotlight

Welcome to Saturday Story Spotlight, my new feature where I discuss books my husband and I are reading with our son, Daniel. These are books that he, we, or all of us particularly enjoy, since we are definitely reading more than one book a week!

Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs by Sandra Boynton
Published by Workman Publishing

“Dinosaurs happy,
dinosaurs sad.
Dinosaurs good,
and dinosaurs bad.”

Ah yes, another of Daniel’s books that I can recite virtually all of without even glancing at the page (a very helpful skill, that, when he is being a squirmy wormy).

“Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs” is and has long been our favorite Sandra Boynton book, and we do love Sandra Boynton. The dinosaurs in this book are hilarious and endearing, and appear in pairs of opposites. Like so many of Boynton’s books, this one has a great rhythm, and really lends itself to fun vocal expression.

Now, at 17 months and after reading this book since we received it at his first birthday, I must say that Daniel is starting to get the slightest bit tired of the book and doesn’t ask for it or automatically bring it to me as he used to do, but nearly five months worth of daily readings says to me that this book holds up pretty well. Honestly, even my husband and I didn’t get tired of reading it so often, because it is such a fun book.

I highly recommend “Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs.”

Buy this book from:
Powells.*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound.*
Amazon.*

Source: Personal copy
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

Thank you to Sheila from Book Journey for creating my button for this feature!

College in a Nutskull edited by Anders Henriksson – Book Review

College in a Nutskull edited by Anders Henriksson

You know those books about funny malapropisms that kids make? The ones that almost make you cringe because they show such a lack of either thought or education?

Okay, well, imagine one of those, but filled with things that college students have written on tests. Such a book is “College in a Nutskull.”

Anders Henriksson, a professor at Shepherd College in West Virgina, has collected some of the most completely absurd things that college students around the United States have ever written on exams, and put them into this book, organized by subject and designed to look like a spiral-bound notebook. Some of my favorites:

John McCane’s biggest mistake was to think that Sara Palin could cattle pout him into the White House

Life in the trenches was very dangerous due to constant attacks by submarines.

Fascism is where your social life is totally on Facebook.

When I first received this book, I wasn’t really sure it would appeal to me. Then I sat down and began flipping through it, and had a hard time putting it down! Reading it a section or two at a time, I finished this entire book in a single day. Normally these types of books made me cringe, but this one was so funny (cattle pout? hilarious!) that funny beat out sad for me. Of course there were some cringe-worthy moments too (note to all college students, fascism has nothing to do with Facebook!), but on the balance I really enjoyed “College in a Nutskull.”

Give this book to your favorite graduate – if only to make sure that they don’t think any of this makes sense!

Buy this book from:
Powells.*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound.*
Amazon.*

This review was done with a book received unsolicited from the publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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