Summerland – Michael Chabon
As with The Fault In Our Stars, while Summerland is officially classified as a “young adult” book, it is really a book for all ages. Especially if you love baseball and have time to read in the summer.
Summerland is a bit confusing at first. But that’s not unusual for a Chabon book. In this case, he quickly introduces characters from different races and different locations in parallel worlds that cross over and interact. I admit I lost track of which character was what kind of creature rather quickly. But keeping them straight isn’t vital to the story.
Beyond that, it turns into a very Stephen King-ish quest. Kids are on a mission to save the universe as we know it from destruction. They must cross into other worlds and defeat powers that seem to dwarf their own. The supernatural comes into play. But rather than win through physical battles or tricks of mental powers, our heroes must defeat the forces of evil through good, old fashioned games of baseball.
There’s more to it than that, of course. Our main, reluctant hero must learn to overcome his fears and physical limitations. In addition to saving the world, he must find a way to save his father, who was forced into helping bring about the end of the universe.
It’s all straight forward, and at times predictable. But it’s still charming and a lot of fun.
Worst. Person. Ever. – Douglas Coupland
Coupland’s books are often hit-and-miss with me. When I enjoy them, I really enjoy them. Other times they’re tough to get through. This one was a laugh riot.
Its focus is Raymond Gunt, an English cameraman who is a bit down on his luck. Following an embarrassing encounter with a homeless man on the streets of London, he is offered what seems like a fine gig by his TV producer ex-wife: flying to the Pacific to work on the set of a Survivor-like show.
One terrible indignity after another falls upon Gunt. His first class seat is unavailable so he is placed in the midst of a group of emotionally and mentally challenged people on his flight to LA. His outbursts land him in Homeland Security custody upon his arrival in the US. His assistant, chosen for his apparent fecklessness, slides into every luxury that Gunt believes is reserved for himself. He runs into women he scorned decades ago, and is the object of their revenge. After another outburst, he lands in military prison, forced to literally sing and dance for his freedom. He is in the vicinity of multiple deaths of unsuspecting bystanders. When he finally gets a chance with his dream girl, she has a major surprise for him. He even is involved in the first step of what nearly becomes a global, nuclear war.
It’s a ridiculous series of events, made much more fun by Gunt’s over-the-top, child-like responses to these slights and pitfalls. He truly is the Worst. Person. Ever.
Nine Inches: Stories – Tom Perrotta
A collection of short stories by Perrotta, all of which fit right in with his body of work. Slightly damaged people making minor mistakes which turn into bigger messes when they fail to quickly correct them. To me, this felt like a series of sketches for longer works that never turned into anything, but which he brushed up in order to sell a short story book. They aren’t terrible, but they aren’t particularly memorable nor do they match up with his better, longer form works.