Friday Finds: Essays and Story Collections, Anyone?

I’m not even going to say, “my goodness, the week has just flown by – it’s Friday Finds already!” because I suspect I might be saying that every Friday. (But it has flown by, don’t you think? Especially with the holidays looming ahead of us. And Ms. Bookish hasn’t bought a single gift yet …)

It’s a short list for me this Friday because I’ve been busy tackling deadlines so haven’t had the chance to surf around the book blog world as much as I would have liked. I am always so grateful to all the book bloggers out there, who make sure that my TBR pile stays filled with succulent, juicy and tempting reads (can you tell I’m looking forward to turkey dinner this holiday? Especially since I won’t be cooking it!).

This week, it’s essays and short stories that have been catching my eye:

Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, ChelseaAre You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea (discovered at Meg Cabot’s blog) Maybe it’s the play on the title, with that bit of homage to Judy Blume, but this sounds like it would be such a funny read. Here’s the synopsis:

When Chelsea Handler needs to get a few things off her chest, she appeals to a higher power — vodka. You would too if you found out that your boyfriend was having an affair with a Peekapoo or if you had to pretend to be honeymooning with your father in order to upgrade to first class. Welcome to Chelsea’s world — a place where absurdity reigns supreme and a quick wit is the best line of defense.

In this hilarious, deliciously skewed collection, Chelsea mines her past for stories about her family, relationships, and career that are at once singular and ridiculous. Whether she’s convincing her third-grade class that she has been tapped to play Goldie Hawn’s daughter in the sequel to Private Benjamin, deciding to be more egalitarian by dating a redhead, or looking out for a foulmouthed, rum-swilling little person who looks just like her…only smaller, Chelsea has a knack for getting herself into the most outrageous situations. Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea showcases the candor and irresistible turns of phrase that have made her one of the freshest voices in comedy today.

Just After Sunset And then there’s Just After Sunset, by Stephen King, which I found via Bookzombie. Joanne’s not thrilled with the collection, but she gives a wonderful mini-review of each of the stories and I spotted a few with premises that sound good. So I thought it was worth requesting this from the library. Not to mention it’s been a while since I’ve read a Stephen King short story. Here’s the synopsis:

Who but Stephen King would turn a Port-a-San into a slimy birth canal, or a roadside honky-tonk into a place for endless love? A book salesman with a grievance might pick up a mute hitchhiker, not knowing the silent man in the passenger seat listens altogether too well. Or an exercise routine on a stationary bicycle, begun to reduce bad cholesterol, might take its rider on a captivating-and then terrifying-journey. Set on a remote key in Florida, “The Gingerbread Girl” is a riveting tale featuring a young woman as vulnerable-and resourceful-as Audrey Hepburn’s character in Wait Until Dark. In “Ayana,” a blind girl works a miracle with a kiss and the touch of her hand. For King, the line between the living and the dead is often blurry, and the seams that hold our reality intact might tear apart at any moment. In one of the longer stories here, “N.,” which recently broke new ground when it was adapted as a graphic digital entertainment, a psychiatric patient’s irrational thinking might create an apocalyptic threat in the Maine countryside . . . or keep the world from falling victim to it.

Happy TrailsI found Happy Trails, by Julie Hecht in the same Meg Cabot blog post I mentioned above, and it sounds like a story collection I will really like. I particularly enjoy a deadpan style of humour, and this collection sounds like it has oodles of that:

In this new collection of stories, Julie Hecht reclaims the darkly funny, existential territory for which she is known: “People say ‘Good morning,’ but don’t believe them. It’s just something to say.” The uniquely eccentric narrator reappears in Happy Trails to You and recounts her perplexed engagements with our society and the larger world — whether she’s attempting to withdraw money from a bank machine, worrying about Paul McCartney, or seeking a nonexistent place of calm on Nantucket, where nail guns and chain saws have replaced the sounds of birds singing.

Appalled by life in our times, the narrator recounts innumerable artifacts from a now vanished America (civility, idealism, Elvis Presley, well-made appliances). She is also exquisitely attuned to the absurdities of our culture; her acute observations illuminate every subject, from the dangers of microwave ovens to the disappearing ozone layer. With deadpan wit, the author reveals the truths of a new century. Happy Trails to You is a radically distinctive work of American fiction.

So these are my finds for this week! What wonderful books did you add to your i-want list?

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