In the interests of using this blog to its fullest potential, I’m going to start posting a short review of every book I read during my time in Ukraine. These will probably only be a few paragraphs long, and will draw from both the handful of paperbacks I toted along with me and the rich stash aboard my Kindle. These won’t necessarily be to recommend or sell books so much as give you an opportunity to see what I’m reading on cold, Ukrainian nights, and give me an opportunity to do more writing.
Starting us off is a cerebral novel best described as a cross between the magical realism of authors like Borges, the secret histories of Umberto Eco, and the comedies of manners originally perfected by Jane Austen: MONSTER HUNTER: NEMESIS. As you can see from the cover, the novel takes as its primary concern the struggle between civilized man (or woman) and the uncivilized urges buried deep under the mundane drudgery of work, family, relationships, and unthinking consumerism.
Larry Correia (a widely known pseudonym for J. D. Salinger) wrote this novel over the course of a decade traveling the world. One paragraph may have been written in a hammock dangled from an ice-locked cliff in the Tibetan Himalayas, another in the field office of an ecological restoration project outside Rio de Jainero, and still a third while the author took a well-deserved mental break on the beaches in the south of France. This variety of life experience shines through in every sentence. Correia’s (or Salinger’s, of course) perspicacious insight into the mingled bliss and horror of the human condition is unmatched by any writer of his generation.
Take, for example, the scene where the protagonist (known to the reader simply as “Franks”) finds himself locked in a battle against his own psychic insecurities, manifested through a haze of narcotics as a redneck werewolf named Earl Harbinger. Through the metaphor of bloody fisticuffs, we come to see that Franks might truly be called a modern Prometheus. Despite obeying his conscience, he is condemned to a torment he can neither end nor fully understand, which manifests with all the caprice of an Olympian decree. We may not achieve Franks’ level of spiritual realization, but we can still understand that the things Harbinger represents are inescapable truths about our own modest existence.
All in all, good light reading for the plane. I recommend the MONSTER HUNTER series to anyone who appreciates gun fights, monster-based horror, and propulsive action writing.