Hello, and welcome to this week's installment of A Good Book's newsletter, which employs the age old technique of showing you something sparkly as a means of distracting you from what is going on over there. No, no. Don't look. It's nothing. Just—eyes right here.
This is—oh, wait. We talked about this weeks ago. Okay, sorry. It's, uh, where did this come from? Oh, right. This is the paperback edition of Dave Eggers's new book, The Every. The ones we had weeks ago were special. These, then, aren't all that special. They're just . . . whatever. Paper.
Still a searing commentary on late-stage capitalism and our catastrophic inability to look away from the glowing electron box, but hey, let's not get too hyperbolic. Surely, technology is going to save us, right? Why would anyone want to warn us about the loss of individuality, identity, and personal responsibility. Look. The Every is just . . . paper. It's not Skynet, for crying out loud. We'll just put the book here. Yes, right here. On the table. Don't—don't look over there. There's nothing over there. We're not—no! Don't—
Isn't there another new Tolkien book out this week? No? Next week? Fine. Here's a new Neal Stephenson instead.
This one is Termination Shock. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll despair about climate change. You might even be inclined to think about your carbon footprint. You might also consider not waiting for the billionaires to save us, because, you know, one of these days, they're going into space and they're not coming back. Watch how much luggage they pack on their next "test" flight. You'll see.
Anyway, Stephenson is always about sixteen steps ahead of the rest of us (see Facebook's latest rebranding), and Termination Shock is a far-ranging philosophical and scientific consideration of "What the f*ck are we going to do about this sh*tshow?" masquerading as a near-future thriller. Probably aren't any answers here, but we suspect it'll get you thinking.
And speaking of things to think about, here is John Koenig's The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. What is it about? It's about the feelings and thoughts we don't have words for. It's about the inescapable wonder of what we don't understand but which we are experiencing right now. It contains a phrase that encapsulates that world-weary shrug you give when asked: "What the f*ck are we going to do about this sh*tshow?" And it will tell you how to respond to that shrug in a way that says: "I understand completely, and I'm here for you."
But mostly, it's a collective bit of imaginative star stuff. We like it.
And speaking of things we like, here is Mick Herron's short fiction collection, Dolphin Junction. There's at least one Jackson Lamb story in here, along with some other things that we haven't bothered to look at.
Seriously, though. If you've been keeping up with Herron's Slough House series (and just pretend you have, it makes this conversation easier), you've been reading the interstitial novellas, wherein Herron demonstrates that he can sucker-punch you in tight quarters very nicely, thank you very much. Dolphin Junction is an opportunity to spend more time with Herron's characters (and not just the slow horses, mind you), and that's a welcome opportunity.
Oh, look. Pocket-sized Cabin Porn. So you can read it . . . never mind. It's a fantastic gift, by the way. At the very least, it'll make for lots of awkward jokes at Christmas time. Perfect!
Oh, here's that Tolkien book! It is out this week, but—oh, not yet in stock in the warehouses? Okay, well, that's a picture of the cover at least.
And speaking of dead guys authoring, William W. Johnstone's latest is Hell for Breakfast. These rough riders can't even get their boots on before the shooting starts. That's how crazy the West is. Fortunately, Slash and Pecos have been living the crazy so long, boots don't matter. Just as long as they die heroes . . .
Anyway, how about an annotated edition of The Arabian Nights? All 1,001 tales—Oh, what? "Original translations of the most important stories"? Okay, well, Some of the thousand and one tales. But with annotations! And illustrations, both historical and contemporary! And retellings of the tales, demonstrating their influence on modern literature! It's like the DVD commentary track!
Also, Cabin Porn Inside. Because it's worth doubling down on the awkward Christmas moments.
All right, enough of that. Let's get back to talking about important things—less embarrassing things. Like: what did Edward Gorey have on his bookshelves? We want to know!
Thankfully, Malcolm Whyte knows the answer to that question. Gorey Secrets is a fascinating exploration into the mind of Edward Gorey, wherein we discover what connects the I Ching, French new wave cinema, Agatha Christie, and 18th century religious tracts for children. It's an enigma, drowned by a conundrum, and buried out back by a mystery. Bring a shovel.
And speaking of the I Ching, there's a new set that contains the text, sixty-four hexagram cards, and three coins. Oooh. You know you want it.
Or how about a set of iconic Marvel collectible posters? Ah, but these are black light ready! It's like having Jack Kirby haunt your dreams!
Okay, okay, okay. Fine. We'll stop with all the razzle-dazzle. We know what you really want. We'll stop playing games. Yes. Massimo Montanari's A Short History of Spaghetti With Tomato Sauce is out. We know you've been waiting. We apologize for being so coy.