Monday, August 15, 2016

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 8/13

Howdy, folks! Below are some books that showed up on my doorstep this past week, and I thought some of you might like to buy or read or know about some of them. This time out, all of them superficially resemble novels, but none of them are -- exactly.

One is a short-story collection, and the other two are light novels, which are like regular novels, but with aspartame rather than cane sugar. So they have the same great novel flavor, but half the calories! (Also: pictures. They may or may not avoid using "hard words," too.)

The collection of short stories is Michael Swanwick's Not So Much, Said the Cat, a trade paperback from Tachyon publishing this month. It collects seventeen stories, all from this decade, since Swanwick is not only a really good writer of short stories, he's awfully prolific as well. Even without having read this yet, I recommend it: anything by Swanwick is well worth reading.

Next up is The Devil is a Part-Timer!, Vol. 5, the latest in the light novel series about the Lord of Darkness (or a Lord of Darkness, at least, who nearly conquered his home universe and plunged it into a thousand-year rule of terror and evil) and his new life as a wage-salve at a fast-food restaurant in Tokyo. I haven't read any of these books -- by Satoshi Wagahara, with art by the entity designated 029 (Oniku) -- possibly because I love the premise so much I don't want to sully my love of it with any actual knowledge of the plots. If you are less puckish than me, you may enjoy this -- this latest volume is available now from Yen Press, who also publish a manga adaption, for those who prefer more pictures in their devil-flipping-burgers stories.

And last up for this week is another book from Yen: Baccano! 1931: The Grand Punk Railroad: Local, Vol. 2, by Ryohgo Narita. And I have to admit that I'm not sure I have that subtitle in the right place...which implies there is a right place for something so sprawling and odd. This series is set on a train crossing the USA in the year 1931, and I suspect this is as culturally accurate to Depression-Era America as Frank Miller's Ronin was to Japan. (Turnabout, as they say, is fair play.) I'm not sure what the audience is for light novels about gangsters on trains, but if that describes you, I'm happy to tell you that there's finally something fitting your very picky needs.

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