take my word for it

Anthony Bourdain (can I write anything without including his name? Nah.) has published four major works of fiction: Gone Bamboo, Bone in the Throat, The Bobby Gold Stories, and Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical. I read The Bobby Gold Stories last weekend, and loved it (review posted here). The best thing about the book is the way it played out in my mind like a movie. I do not mean that it was written with obvious intent to be turned into a film; that sort of heavy-handedness turns me off, because I read to be entertained in my own mind and not through the eye (does that difference make sense?). The Bobby Gold Stories is not like one of those written-for-screen treatments, though. It is just so evocative, the characters so genuine (especially Bobby Gold himself, who I can see clearly in my mind as a moody, philosophical cross between Bourdain [are you surprised? It's a serious crush!] and the lanky, younger version of Vincent D'Onofrio [from the Mystic Pizza era]), the action so compelling, the drama so authentic--I was disappointed when the book was finished. As much as I love his nonfiction, Bourdain's novels are the shit.

And a few weeks ago I read something that has really stuck with me: Finny, by Justin Kramon. It's the best new book I've read in years. The moment that I turned the last page, I immediately wanted to go to every bookstore I could find and buy up all the copies they had, due to two competing urges: to (yes, irrationally) horde them for myself, because I liked this book so much that I don't want to share it with anyone, but also so that I could push a copy into the hands of every book lover I know, so that they would have to read it and see what a fantastic, different, wonderful, fresh, exciting book this is. I loved it. Why? I'm not certain that I can explain it, and that is part of the beauty of it: it's just good! The characters are real, mostly good and likable but also flawed and nuanced, the sort of people that you can imagine knowing and spending time with, becoming friends and falling for. The action is almost impossible to place chronologically, giving it a timelessness that I've never experienced in fiction before. The entire book felt...light, not in the sense of 'insubstantial' but intricate, pristine, and new. Now I'm just laughing, because there is no better way to describe Finny than this: it is novel. Justin Kramon wrote a great first book. I cannot wait to see what else he can do.

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