We’ve wandered into May, and it would appear that the seasonal gnomes have been rudely awoke and are scurrying to pack away the ice machines and the fog blowers. Quick! Someone find the giant magnifying lens so the sun can start baking all the grass before it gets too tall. Can’t have that grass growing tall. Surely a sign of chaos, that is. Must keep it under control. And where are the heat lamps? We’ve got some slow-roasting to do!

Anyway, winter’s over, my dears. Put up your mittens and scarves. Find the lemonade pitcher and the damp towels for your forehead. Stock up on books too. It’s going to be another summer where it is best to lie still and read. Fortunately, publishing has got you covered. 

Let’s start this week with a new book from Chuck Palahniuk. It’s been four years since his last full-on novel, and Adjustment Day looks like it is going to be classically caustic Palahniuk. There’s a reckoning coming, and the directives have been sent prior in a mysterious book that the faithful have been memorizing. Just when you think you know who Palahniuk is skewering, he flips it all on you. Darkly comic. Angrily insightful. Conspiratorially prescient. 

And speaking of topical commentary, Haruki Murakami’s new collection of short stories, Men Without Women, is out this week in paperback. As the title says, these stories examine the lives of men who have managed to . . . shall we say . . . excise themselves from aspects of society. Naturally, this is Murakami, so everything is not as it seems while simultaneously being subtle commentary on the human condition—in contrast to Palahniuk, who no one would ever call ‘restrained’ and ‘subtle.’

And speaking of restrained, we’ve also got Stolen, which is a book about art thieves. Back in the day (twenty-seven years ago, in fact), a couple of fellows wandered into the The Gardner Museum and waltzed out with thirteen paintings, including three Rembrandts and a Vermeer. It was one of the largest art heists of all time, and is still unsolved. In fact, Stolen is published by The Gardner Museum and provides incredible insight into what is known about the heist, its investigation, and how the museum and art world have dealt with this incredible loss. It’s a really interesting behind the scenes look at one of the great unsolved mysteries of the late twentieth century. 

And speaking of rollicking tales of daring, the final volume of Sebastien de Castell’s fabulous fantasy series is out this week. Tyrant’s Throne is the fourth book in the Greatcoats series, and herein we find Falcio nearly able to realize his life-long goal of restoring order to the kingdom. Alas, though, there is trouble afoot as the Warlord of a neighboring kingdom is unifying all the barbarian tribes, giving him a rather unstoppable army. Falcio and his fellow Greatcoats can never catch a break, which is one of the great treats of this series. Much like the Three Musketeers who were always fighting great odds, Falco, Kest, and Brasti are always in deep sh*t, but manage to find a way out, while talking smack and swashing buckles. 

And speaking of pulp through a modern lens, Allan Steele is going the SF route with Avengers of the Moon: A Captain Future Novel. Now Curt Newton has spent his life being raised by a robot, an android, and a disembodied brain of a slightly mad scientist (well, wouldn’t you be too, without a body?). Naturally, there’s a plot to destabilize the kingdom—er, Solar Coalition—and it’s up to Curt, in a new set of magic pajamas—I mean, under the guise of Captain Future—to save the day! 

Pulp is like having pie for breakfast. Mmm, pie. 

And speaking of favorite things early in the day, Tad Williams is returning to the world that put him on the map (and paved the way for a whole bunch of epic fantasy). The Witchwood Crown is the first book in a new trilogy about the Last King of Osten Ard. It’s been thirty years since the events of the first trilogy, and sure, things have been peachy and quiet, but that never lasts, does it? Nope. The Norns are coming back, and you can be sure they’re a bit pissed about what went down last time . . . 

And speaking of long-standing grudges, Christopher Buckley is back this week with The Judge Hunter. No, we’re not suggesting that Buckley has a bone to pick with us. It’s a riff on his book, which is about “Balty” St. Michel who is sent to America to track down the two judges who sentenced Charles I to death. It’s a 17th century American road trip novel! Back when there weren’t roads. Before buddy movies, even! 

And speaking of spending lots of time in Wikipedia to get all the jokes, Conn Iggulden takes us back even farther with The Abbot’s Tale. Set in 937, The Abbot’s Tale, follows a grandson of Alfred the Great (who worked pretty hard to earn that superlative) who sets out to unite all of England in one day. He’s got a sidekick, of course, which ticks the “buddy novel” box as well as the “sweeping saga” and the “coming of age” boxes. All the boxes. Which is what you need when you’re writing an “intimate portrait of a priest and performer, a visionary, a traitor and confessor to kings—the man who can change the fate of England.” 

It ends well, we hope. 

And lastly, local writer Joseph Brassey’s sequel to Skyfarer is out this week. Dragon Road continues the high stakes that Brassey laid out as city-sized flying ships and mad death cults and the end of the world all collide on . . . wait for it . . . the Dragon Road. It’s like Mad Max meets Sky Pirates of Tomorrow meets Final Fantasy, but with more sword fights and cooler magic. 

And speaking of pointy things and Cool Whip: pie for breakfast. We’re telling you. It should be a national trend. And with that, we’re going to find a fork because, you know, there’s pie. 

Meanwhile, at the Gazebo »»

MIME: Hey, how are you doing? 

BOB: Uh, hi. Do I know you?

MIME: You came by yesterday. Left a twenty in the jar. 

BOB: I did? Oh, right. That jar. The one out in front of that guy all silvered up like an astronaut. That’s a tough gig. Standing still all day. Especially with the sun out. 

MIME: It’s okay. 

BOB: Yeah? 

MIME: The paint is reflective. 

BOB: Oh, smart. 

MIME: So, uh, I bought you a tea. 

BOB: A what?

MIME: Tea. 

BOB: Yeah, okay. Uh, why? 

MIME: You were kind. I thought I should return the favor. 

BOB: I—what? Oh, you’re the silver guy? 

MIME: I am. 

BOB: But . . . aren’t you—you look . . .

MIME: Like anyone else? 

BOB: Well, yeah. That, too. But—

MIME: It’s my day off. I only do the thing when I’m working. 

BOB: Oh, so it’s like a job? 

MIME: It’s a means of creative expression and a philosophical commentary on the illusory nature of our existence, but yes, as long as people keep leaving money in the jar, it’s a job. 

BOB: But if people don’t leave money, then it’s . . . 

MIME: A thought experiment. Which—to date—hasn’t happened, therefore . . . 

BOB: Huh. 

MIME: Yeah. Anyway, here’s some tea. 

BOB: Thanks. 

MIME: <sslllurrp!>

BOB: . . . 

MIME: What? It’s my day off. I can slurp tea noisily. 

BOB: You probably stomp loudly on the stairs too. 

MIME: Verily. I also fart loudly in the grocery aisle. 

BOB: I . . . I didn’t need to know about that last bit. 

MIME: Or not. You haven’t heard me do it, have you? 

BOB: Uh, no. I guess I haven’t. 

MIME: I could be lying then. If I’m the only one who observes something happen, did it really happen? 

BOB: I’m sure you’re not the only one who notices. 

MIME: Yes, but until someone else verifies it, it didn’t happen. Regardless of what I tell you, because I am an unreliable narrator. As we all are, of our own lives. 

BOB: Yes, but—

MIME: <ssllllurrrp!>

BOB: You’re kind of annoying when you’re not working. 

MIME: Is that not an indelible facet of human existence? How we strive to mark ourselves as present when are not being defined by the mantle of “job” and “profession.” When I am a statue, you can’t help but notice me—even though I am invisible. When I am not a statue—and therefore not invisible—you wish that I was. Which is the truer expression of the real “me”? 

BOB: How do I know this whole thing isn’t another performance. Like yesterday, but with sounds coming out of your mouth hole. 

MIME: Exactly! You are more mentally agile than you appear. 

BOB: You shouldn’t be surprised. You started this, after all. 

MIME: Touché, my friend. 



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