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Where Things Come Back

John Corey Whaley wrote a book that is called Where Things Come Back and you should read it. You should read it because it will make you feel things (go and hide when the psychic starts digging), and you should read it because you will learn a hell of a lot about love (how to beat up an ornithologist), and you should read it because it is a ridiculously beautiful story (like the story of Lazarus, who was a zombie).

It’s a story about Cullen Witter. Cullen Witter’s just this guy, you know? His cousin Oslo ODs and his aunt pretty much just cries all the time. His little younger brother Gabriel wears a lot of band t-shirts. And there’s this one girl, and Cullen wants her so bad. But she doesn’t want him, and some weird bird guy has moved in next door, and the entire summer is shaping up to be boring, but in a weirder way that it usually is. Then Gabriel goes missing.

When one is reading a story in which boys go missing and in which zombies feature prominently, she wonders how she’s ever managed to make it through life without seeing zombies climbing from every grave. She begins to think that all of the void in life may just be waiting to be undead, and not really a void at all, but a receptacle for hope. She forgets about the music playing in the background, forgets about her glass of wine, her foot that fell asleep and the fact that she must go to work in the morning somewhere in a building in a whole other universe from where she is. She might even try really hard not to cry.

Who is the book for? The living and undead alike. Read it now. It will not eat your brains, but it will feed your heart. (Aww).

Sufjan Stevens fans will get a serious kick out of this book.


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Call Me By Your Name

by André Aciman

I could not put this book down. I started it after work one evening and finished late that night. It cast a spell of tension, longing, desire—all of which were left unresolved for so many pages, with hints every now and then to spur the reader on.

There was a lot of restraint in the telling: a seventeen year old boy falling in love for the first time could have been, well, Twilight without the vampires. But this story was far from an emotional indulgence squeezed generously from a tube of saccharine icing.  Most of the telling is in the frustration and uncertainty of the the young boy: is he mad? does he really want the thing he believes he desires? Is there reciprocation? How can he break the ice with this aloof object of his affection?

There were many ways, however, in which the book was indulgent. Our hero is hyper intellectual, a piano virtuoso. His love interest is likewise intelligent, a grad student working fervently on a thesis about Heraclitus. The uncanniness of the  ready excuse for allusion and heady talk was easy to overlook with a view of enjoying the story, but it often felt as if these devices sufficed to say “their desire for each other is not your typical summer romance.” In fact, their desire was as animal and desperate as other romances, even those including seventeen-year-olds.

If you’re looking for a short, light easy read, full of passion and reservation, this one fits the bill.