Sunday, November 13, 2011

Instructional Fiction

Looking for a bit of advice? A little how-to help? I've been noticing a trend in toward the instructional in book titles of late. Need to know how to enjoy your leisure reading a bit more? Perhaps one of this books holds the key!

How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive (M)
by Christopher Boucher.

This first novel with an unusual premise takes its name from a classic car repair manual. The unusual premise of the novel begins fairly straightforwardly, it is the story of a man trying to raise his son, what isn't so straightforward is the fact that his son is 1971 Volkswagen Beetle. Booklist magazine compared it in spirit to Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America and proclaimed that "with wicked, postmodern playfulness and a heart of tenderness, Boucher introduces a supercharged novel that reaffirms the vast and rousing possibilities of fiction."

Instructions for Living Someone Else's Life (M)
by Mil Millington.

When I see Millington's name, my Pavlovian response is to giggle. My first experience with Millington's writing was through his first book Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About, the goofy tale of a mismatched couple and their strange and hilarious relationship. Instructions for Living Someone Else's Life seems to follow a similarly line of humour, a 2o something guy on the verge of quitting his detested job goes to bed drunk in 1988 and wakes up in 2006: confusion and hilarity ensue.

Blueprints for Building Better Girls
by Elissa Schappell.

I've been hearing about this book (released in September) for a few months now. Schappell is a co-founder of Tin House magazine, the author of a previous fiction title, Use Me, and editor of two essay collections. From the publisher: "In these eight darkly funny linked stories, Schappell delves into the lives of an eclectic cast of archetypal female characters—from the high school slut to the good girl, the struggling artist to the college party girl, the wife who yearns for a child to the reluctant mother— to explore the commonly shared but rarely spoken of experiences that build girls into women and women into wives and mothers." Booklist called these " wise, sexy, funny, and fathoms-deep tales of dire miscommunication".

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (M)
by Charles Yu.

From the publisher: "Every day in Minor Universe 31 people get into time machines and try to change the past. That's where Charles Yu, time travel technician, steps in. He helps save people from themselves. Literally. When he's not taking client calls, Yu visits his mother and searches for his father, who invented time travel and then vanished. The key to locating his father may be found in a book. It's called How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, and somewhere inside it is information that will help him. It may even save his life." In 2007, Charles Yu was named one of the National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35 and Library Journal said this quirky, offbeat novel "has the potential to become a cult classic."

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