Friday, March 31, 2006

Horses and Hotdogs

The first book in my McSweeney's subscription arrived a week or so ago: Yannick Murphy's Here They Come. With very little idea of what the book was about, much less who the author is, I read the novel -- the writer's third book -- in the last two days. It's excellent.

I encourage you to read a book you know nothing about -- or by an author you know nothing about -- soon. It's a different reading experience entirely, and you bring a different self to the read. You don't give a book more -- or less -- because you "like" the author. And that's refreshing.

I still know nothing about Murphy, so I can write about the book without context. Ostensibly set in the New York City of the '70s, this novel involves the story of a teenage girl and her family as they try to negotiate the ins and outs of poverty and a broken home. In some ways, it reminds me of Joseph Torchia's Kryptonite Kid, one of my favorite books ever, as the lead character discovers herself while searching for her father and coping with the travails of her life.

Until the heroine's father goes missing, there's little direction in the novel, but once that vector is established, purpose is solidified -- even though it doesn't take over the narrative. Even the end papers don't make sense until the very last chapters -- while the cover imagery makes sense and is continually established throughout the book.

Here They Come is an excellent New York book. There's a lot of place in it. The details -- frozen water in the toilet, accumulated garbage bags, sleeping on the fire escape -- are quite nice. And the portrayal of the "countryside" of Long Island is intriguing.

Next up: Javier Morales' Voyage Along the Horizon, which just hit the streets on the 28th. Thank you, McSweeney's!

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