Friday, July 01, 2016

Book Review

Welcome to Night ValeWelcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm was excited to start reading this book. I'd been alternating between self-help, The Happiness Trap(really good), and classic literature, John Steinbeck 's Tortilla Flats(loved it). This was something completely different; going from the sublime to the ridiculous in a good way.

The book is full of non sequiturs, just like the podcast, and things listeners have come to know, such as Cecil the community radio host, Carlos the scientist, and the library with its deadly librarians; it actually takes us inside the library. But it doesn't center on them, it centers on Jackie, a 19 year old pawn shop owner, and Diane, a single mom, both just trying to figure their lives out.

The free associations and lapses in the space/time continuum go on throughout the book. If there's any shortcoming in the writing it's that they don't always contribute to the forward motion of the storyline. But what the writers do very well is make the characters very real, three dimensional humans with flaws and perfections, people that you care about and hope the best for.

Along the way they make some wry observations about our very real lives, such as:

"He drives to his job. His car is nice. Nicer than he can afford, but just as nice as he hopes he can soon afford. His car is aspirational. His gray pin-striped suit, his smile, his silver watch, the way he walks, these are all also aspirational. He doesn't think of himself as the him that exists in this moment but as the him that will exist soon. He is not far away from the him that he really is. He will be that version of himself very soon."


"It didn't matter what he said. The world is terrifying. It always is. But Cecil reminded her that it was okay to relax in a terrifying world."

A note on the hard back edition: the book doesn't have a paper jacket, which I never liked. Instead the front and back cover graphics and the inside flap synopsis and author bios are all printed directly on the book cover, which I love. Publishers should do this with all future hardback editions. Librarians worldwide will thank you.

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