(R.I.P. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, December 11, 1918 - August 3, 2008)
After the August 2 midnight release of Stephenie Meyer's latest Breaking Dawn went off as a wild success, I thought there wouldn't be much else to talk about in books this week, or even for the rest of the month. As much as I don't seem to get the Twilight series phenomenon (after all, I couldn't be further from her core demographic), I have to admit that I'm pleased to see so many young adults get excited about new books, and who cares if they are about teen vampires?
As I was preparing for this column over the weekend, I couldn't help but notice that Meyer's latest has fallen down a couple notches in the bestseller lists. Riding on the coattails of the Breaking Dawn release was the announcement of a new J.K. Rowling book, The Tales of Beetle the Bard, a collection of Wizarding fairy tales translated and narrated by Hermione Grainger, one of the central characters of the Harry Potter book series. The collection won't be released until December 4, but it's already at the top of the sales rankings on both Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com. We'll surely be discussing this new book here at Blogcritics as the year progresses.
That's enough of the notable, so how about the new? Luckily, there a few good books coming out this week. In addition to the new Robin Cook medical thriller Foreign Body and David Ebershoff's latest religiously-tinged novel The 19th Wife, the much-hyped debut novel The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson has been getting mixed reviews, but is selling well considering Doubleday shelled out $1.25 million for the new book.
The book starts out when the narrator, where the narrator's life begins to fall apart as he's stuck in the hospital recovering from major burns. In the process, the narrator has to come to grips with the fact that his destructive burns have destroyed his career as a porn star, and he also crosses several macabre characters in the burn ward, including a woman who claims the two had an affair in the 14th Century. This is the material that writers like Chuck Palahniuk deal in, and the reviews so far have suggested that the quality of Davidson's prose is highly subjective; Entertainment Weekly's review blasted the book as "eye-bulgingly atrocious" and gave the novel a D. The New York Times, on the other hand, admits the novel is "defiantly uncategorizable," but it also "turns out to be as seductive as it is overweening."