Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Here They Come

by Yannick Murphy

Wow! Thumbs — and big toes — up!

This was one of those books that occasionally arrive on hold for me, and I think, "I put this on hold? When? Why? Must be some reason; suppose I'll read it anyway..." It turned out to be a great read, and it's also one of the most beautifully constructed books I've ever encountered.

First, let me wax poetic about the object itself. It's a smallish book, about an inch shorter than most adult fiction, a size more common in young adult fiction. There's texture: cloth, leather, embossing, satin finish. And the paper! It's practically art paper, it's so thick and smooth — and saddle-stitched! You don't see much saddle stitching these days; most publishers just glue the pages into the spine. Cheers to McSweeney's for this fine piece of work. (BTW, I left it on the coffee table for a few days, and everyone who visited was compelled to pick it up and feel it and look at it. It's just that beautiful.)

Here They Come is not really a plot-driven novel, but very hard to put down nonetheless; it's not so much that you want to know what's going to happen next, you want to know what the narrator will say next. She lives in a garbage-strewn and unheated loft in an industrial building in New York, and her best friend is either an aging, touchy-feely hot dog vendor or a police horse. (You read that right: not the mounted officer, the horse.) Her brother seems to have antisocial personality disorder, her sisters are just plain weird, and her parents are either physically absent or might as well be — and yet somehow it all seems funny, and we're never worried about the well-being of our adolescent narrator.

All in all, shades of Running with Scissors, but definitely not a copycat. Probably a good recommendation for fans of Douglas Coupland, Tom Robbins, and other authors with a sense of the surreality of reality.

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