Quick Review: MEMOIRS AND MISINFORMATION by Jim Carrey & Dana Vachon (Knopf)

CarreyVachon-Memoirs&MisinformationUSA fascinating, at times unsettling novel-memoir

“None of this is real and all of it is true.” –Jim Carrey

Meet Jim Carrey. Sure, he’s an insanely successful and beloved movie star drowning in wealth and privilege–but he’s also lonely. Maybe past his prime. Maybe even… getting fat? He’s tried diets, gurus, and cuddling with his military-grade Israeli guard dogs, but nothing seems to lift the cloud of emptiness and ennui. Even the sage advice of his best friend, actor and dinosaur skull collector Nicolas Cage, isn’t enough to pull Carrey out of his slump.

But then Jim meets Georgie: ruthless ingénue, love of his life. And with the help of auteur screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, he has a role to play in a boundary-pushing new picture that may help him uncover a whole new side to himself–finally, his Oscar vehicle! Things are looking up!

But the universe has other plans.

Memoirs and Misinformation is a fearless semi-autobiographical novel, a deconstruction of persona. In it, Jim Carrey and Dana Vachon have fashioned a story about acting, Hollywood, agents, celebrity, privilege, friendship, romance, addiction to relevance, fear of personal erasure, our “one big soul,” Canada, and a cataclysmic ending of the world–apocalypses within and without.

I grew up watching and loving Jim Carrey’s movies — The MaskAce Ventura, and Dumb and Dumber, in particular, I found hilarious when I was a teenager. Combined with my general interest in Hollywood, I’ve found Carrey’s career to be pretty interesting. When I heard that he was writing a sort-of-novelized-memoir, I was certainly intrigued. I was lucky enough to get a DRC, and I’m happy to say that it is an interesting and rewarding read. It is, however, rather strange — perhaps predictably. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE SUBSTITUTION ORDER by Martin Clark (Knopf)

ClarkM-SubstitutionOrderUSA clever, intricately plotted and amusing novel about a lawyer’s refusal to concede defeat.

Kevin Moore, once a high-flying Virginia attorney, hits rock bottom after an inexplicably tumultuous summer leaves him disbarred and separated from his wife. Short on cash and looking for work, he lands in the middle of nowhere with a job at SUBstitution, the world’s saddest sandwich shop. His closest confidants: a rambunctious rescue puppy and the twenty-year-old computer whiz manning the restaurant counter beside him. He’s determined to set his life right again, but the troubles keep coming. And when a bizarre, mysterious stranger wanders into the shop armed with a threatening “invitation” to join a multimillion-dollar scam, Kevin will need every bit of his legal savvy just to stay out of prison.

I hadn’t heard of Martin Clark’s novels before I saw this available for review. It sounded rather interesting, however, so I decided to give it a try. And I’m very glad that I did — in addition to solid prose, Clark is able to weave quite the twisty, quirk tale that kept me hooked and guessing until the end. Continue reading

Quick Review: CHANCES ARE… by Richard Russo (Knopf/Allen & Unwin)

RussoR-ChancesAreUSFriends for decades, three men reunite for a summer and a mystery from their past resurfaces…

One beautiful September day, three men convene on Martha’s Vineyard, friends ever since meeting in college circa the sixties. They couldn’t have been more different then, or even today — Lincoln’s a commercial real estate broker, Teddy a tiny-press publisher, and Mickey a musician beyond his rockin’ age. But each man holds his own secrets, in addition to the monumental mystery that none of them has ever stopped puzzling over since a Memorial Day weekend right here on the Vineyard in 1971: the disappearance of the woman each of them loved — Jacy Calloway. Now, more than forty years later, as this new weekend unfolds, three lives are displayed in their entirety while the distant past confounds the present like a relentless squall of surprise and discovery. Shot through with Russo’s trademark comedy and humanity, Chances Are… also introduces a new level of suspense and menace that will quicken the reader’s heartbeat throughout this absorbing saga of how friendship’s bonds are every bit as constricting and rewarding as those of family or any other community.

Chances Are… is the latest novel by one of my favourite authors. This time, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls (among many other great novels and short stories) adds an element of mystery into his fiction. It’s very well done, but his sharp observation and characterization remains at the core of this novel. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE GLASS HOTEL by Emily St. John Mandel (Knopf)

MandelESJ-GlassHotel

Like many readers, I absolutely loved Emily St. John Mandel‘s Station Eleven. I was, therefore, extremely happy to learn about the author’s follow-up, The Ghost Hotel. We still have quite some time to wait before it arrives in bookstores (curses!), but I wanted to give it a quick shout-out here, just in case you’d missed it. Here’s the synopsis:

From the award-winning author of Station Eleven, a captivating novel of money, beauty, white-collar crime, ghosts, and moral compromise in which a woman disappears from a container ship off the coast of Mauritania and a massive Ponzi scheme implodes in New York, dragging countless fortunes with it.

Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass-and-cedar palace on an island in British Columbia. Jonathan Alkaitis works in finance and owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it’s the beginning of their life together. That same day, Vincent’s half brother, Paul, scrawls a note on a windowed wall of the hotel: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company named Neptune-Avramidis, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of a Neptune-Avramidis ship.

Weaving together the lives of these characters, The Glass Hotel moves between the ship, the skyscrapers of Manhattan, and the wilderness of northern Vancouver Island, painting a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts.

The Glass Hotel is due to be published by Knopf in North America (March 24th, 2020) and Picador in the UK (April 30th, 2020).

Also on CR: Review of Station Eleven and Last Night in Montreal

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Upcoming: CHANCES ARE… by Richard Russo (Knopf)

RussoR-ChancesAreUSNot sure how I managed to miss this until today, but Richard Russo has a new novel coming out this year! (Maybe it’s a late addition to the publisher’s schedule.) One of my favourite writers, I’m really looking forward to Chances Are…. Due to be published by Knopf on July 30th in North America, here’s the synopsis:

A gripping story about the abiding yet complex power of friendship.

One beautiful September day, three sixty-six-year old men convene on Martha’s Vineyard, friends ever since meeting in college circa the sixties. They couldn’t have been more different then, or even today – Lincoln’s a commercial real estate broker, Teddy a tiny-press publisher, and Mickey a musician beyond his rockin’ age. But each man holds his own secrets, in addition to the monumental mystery that none of them has ever stopped puzzling over since a Memorial Day weekend right here on the Vineyard in 1971.

Now, forty-four years later, as this new weekend unfolds, three lives and that of a significant other are displayed in their entirety while the distant past confounds the present like a relentless squall of surprise and discovery. Shot through with Russo’s trademark comedy and humanity, Chances Are… also introduces a new level of suspense and menace that will quicken the reader’s heartbeat throughout this absorbing saga of how friendship’s bonds are every bit as constricting and rewarding as those of family or any other community.

Really looking forward to this. Easily one of my most-anticipated novels of the year. Russo’s most recent books have been published in the UK by Allen & Unwin, so I guess they’ll be releasing the UK edition later this year?

Follow the Author: Facebook, Goodreads

Quick Review: BLOOD COMMUNION by Anne Rice (Chatto & Windus/Knopf)

RiceA-VC13-BloodCommunionUKHCLestat ushers in a new era for the world’s undead

From his meticulously restored ancestral chateau high up in the mountains of France, Prince Lestat grapples to instil a new ideology of peace and harmony among the blood-drinking community. Accustomed to welcoming the Undead from far and wide, one night he awakes to news of a ruthless attack by a group of maverick blood-drinkers.

After fleeing to investigate the terror, Lestat learns of several new enemies who despise his rule over the blood-drinking realm, and who are intent on disrupting the harmony he tries so hard to maintain. But is Lestat strong enough to take on such evil alone or will sacrifices have to be made? Will his cry for peace be heard in a world riddled with violence?

If you’ve been following CR for any amount of time, really, you’ll have noticed how much I like Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles series. The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned are, together, one of my favourite novels (I have to read them together, so they only count as one). In this, Rice’s thirteenth novel in the series, Lestat ushers in a new era for the world’s blood-drinkers as he takes the crown. Continue reading

Review: WASHINGTON BLACK by Esi Edugyan (Harper Collins/Knopf/Serpent’s Tail)

EdugyanE-WashingtonBlackCAA gripping, beautifully written story about freedom, science, and finding one’s place in a hostile world

When two English brothers arrive at a Barbados sugar plantation, they bring with them a darkness beyond what the slaves have already known. Washington Black – an eleven year-old field slave – is horrified to find himself chosen to live in the quarters of one of these men. But the man is not as Washington expects him to be. His new master is the eccentric Christopher Wilde – naturalist, explorer, inventor and abolitionist – whose obsession to perfect a winged flying machine disturbs all who know him. Washington is initiated into a world of wonder: a world where the night sea is set alight with fields of jellyfish, where a simple cloth canopy can propel a man across the sky, where even a boy born in chains may embrace a life of dignity and meaning – and where two people, separated by an impossible divide, can begin to see each other as human.

But when a man is killed one fateful night, Washington is left to the mercy of his new masters. Christopher Wilde must choose between family ties and young Washington’s life. What follows is a flight along the eastern coast of America, as the men attempt to elude the bounty that has been placed on Washington’s head. Their journey opens them up to the extraordinary: to a dark encounter with a necropsicist, a scholar of the flesh; to a voyage aboard a vessel captained by a hunter of a different kind; to a glimpse through an unexpected portal into the Underground Railroad. This is a novel of fraught bonds and betrayal. What brings Wilde and Washington together ultimately tears them apart, leaving Washington to seek his true self in a world that denies his very existence.

From the blistering cane fields of Barbados to the icy plains of the Canadian Arctic, from the mud-drowned streets of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco, Washington Black teems with all the strangeness of life. This inventive, electrifying novel asks, What is Freedom? And can a life salvaged from the ashes ever be made whole?

I first learned of Esi Edugyan’s latest novel when the Man Booker Long-list was announced. I was surprised that a novel that wasn’t even out yet would be on the long-list, but it led me to try to hunt down a copy. Harper Collins Canada was very kind in supplying me with an ARC, and I started reading it the weekend before it was published. I really enjoyed reading this novel. Continue reading

Upcoming: WASHINGTON BLACK by Esi Edugyan (Harper Collins / Knopf / Serpent’s Tail)

EdugyanE-WashingtonBlack

I first learned of Esi Edugyan‘s Washington Black after I saw it announced that it was on the Man Booker Prize longlist — despite not yet being available. (I still find it a little strange when as-yet-unreleased novels are included on prize lists.) Nevertheless, I think it sounds really interesting:

When two English brothers take the helm of a Barbados sugar plantation, Washington Black — an eleven year-old field slave — finds himself selected as personal servant to one of these men. The eccentric Christopher ‘Titch’ Wilde is a naturalist, explorer, scientist, inventor and abolitionist, whose single-minded pursuit of the perfect aerial machine mystifies all around him.

Titch’s idealistic plans are soon shattered and Washington finds himself in mortal danger. They escape the island together, but then then Titch disappears and Washington must make his way alone, following the promise of freedom further than he ever dreamed possible.

From the blistering cane fields of Barbados to the icy wastes of the Canadian Arctic, from the mud-drowned streets of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco, Washington Black teems with all the strangeness and mystery of life. Inspired by a true story, Washington Black is the extraordinary tale of a world destroyed and made whole again.

I can’t wait to read this novel. Washington Black to due to be published in Canada by Harper Collins (September 4th); in the US by Knopf (September 18th); and in the UK Serpent’s Tail (August 2nd).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Upcoming: BLOOD COMMUNION by Anne Rice (Chatto & Windus/Knopf)

RiceA-VC13-BloodCommunionUKHCIn 2014, Anne Rice marked a welcome return to her Vampire Chronicles with Prince Lestat. A long-time fan of the series, I was eager to read more about Lestat, Louis, and the ever-growing cast of colourful characters Rice had created. Then, in 2016, Rice’s Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis dramatically altered our understanding of the undead mythology she had created. This October, the thirteenth novel in the series, Blood Communion will arrive. I can’t wait to read it. Here’s the synopsis:

From his meticulously restored ancestral château, high up in the mountains of France, Prince Lestat is grappling to instil a new ideology of peace and harmony among the blood-drinking community. Accustomed to welcoming all of the Undead – from far and wide – into his court, one night he awakes to news of a ruthless attack by a group of maverick blood-drinkers.

After fleeing to investigate the terror, Lestat learns of several new enemies who despise his rule over the blood-drinking realm, and who are intent on disrupting the harmony he tries so hard to maintain. One enemy in particular, the infamous Rhoshamandes, is notoriously powerful. But is Lestat strong enough to take on such evil alone or will sacrifices have to be made? Will his cry for peace be heard in a world riddled with violence?

An enthralling, sweeping adventure, full of drama and suspense, Blood Communion will have readers gripped to the very end. It is not just a compelling tale of a troubled leader, but a novel about the power of ambition, as well as a timely reflection on the struggle of individuals to find and defend their place in the world.

It was recently announced that Bryan Fuller has been tapped to run the new TV adaptation of the series, more on which can be found here. Blood Communion will be published in the UK by Chatto & Windus, and in North America by Knopf.

Also on CR: Reviews of Prince Lestat and Prince Lestat and the Realm of Atlantis

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Review: PRINCE LESTAT AND THE REALMS OF ATLANTIS by Anne Rice (Knopf/Arrow)

RiceA-VC12-PrinceLestat&RealmsOfAtlanticUSPBThe twelfth Vampire Chronicle novel upends, once again, the origin story

“In my dreams, I saw a city fall into the sea. I heard the cries of thousands. I saw flames that outshone the lamps of heaven. And all the world was shaken…”

Lestat de Lioncourt is no longer alone.

A strange, otherworldly spirit has resurfaced, taking possession of his body and soul. All-seeing, all-knowing, its voice whispers in his ear, telling the hypnotic tale of Atlantis, the great sea power of ancient times…

Prince Lestat is seduced by the power of this ancient spirit, but is he right to trust it? Why has Lestat, leader of the vampires, been chosen as its bodily host?

And what of Atlantis, the mysterious heaven on earth? Why must the vampires reckon so many millennia later with the terrifying force of this ageless, all-powerful Atalantaya spirit?

It falls to Lestat to discover the truth.

I do love this series. As I have written (so very many times) on the site, I consider Rice’s The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned to be one of my favourite books — I always read them together, so I think of them as one. With each novel, Rice has built on the impressive vampire mythos she’s created. In Prince Lestat, the author took a pretty bold step in developing the mythology: in fact, she pretty much upended everything we’ve come to learn so far. I was surprised, and a little nervous, when I realized that, in Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis, the author was going to do it again… Continue reading