Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I love you, man.

You'd think that working at a bookstore, I'd be at no loss for good books to read, but every once and a while I hit a slump, and the last few weeks have been just that. At first, I thought it was the books that I was reading (why can't they read my mind, and give me exactly what I want right this very second, even if I don't know what that is? gosh), but after a while I came to the conclusion that it was actually just me, being lazy, or being unwilling, or some such excuse. Whatever the case, I'd picked up and put down over 6 titles, and not for lack of trying with them, either.
But 3 of my coworkers have all been recommending City of Thieves by David Benioff (which is now in paperback) and I'm glad that I finally listened. It was exactly the quickly paced, escapist, pleasingly cinematic novel I needed to pull me out of my reading slump. And it's a great book to recommend to older teens, not just for its accessibility, but also since it's a strong, contemporary coming of age story. For those interested in WWII, it's a good choice, and accessible enough for reluctant readers.

After being arrested for looting the corpse of a German soldier, the narrator, Lev, is sent on a wild chicken chase with a charming deserter named Kolya to find a dozen eggs for a Soviet colonel's daughter's wedding cake. If they succeed, their lives are saved. If not, you get the idea. Their search takes them beyond Leningrad, and into enemy territory. In the mean time, the unlikely duo create an unexpectedly sentimental bond.
And it's possibly the most bromantic book I've ever read.
Though sometimes all the maleness of the novel got to me (if you don't have the equipment, it can be boring to peruse the manual) the friendship forged between the two main characters was always entertaining. Benioff certainly has a talent for writing clever exchanges, perfectly suited for film, if not always so in novel form. His dialog heavy style makes the book move along at a nice clip, and the plot does as well, with more intelligence than one expects from a page turner.
Benioff may not be ready to stand next to Vonnegut and Heller in the category of tragi-comic WWII stories, but he's certainly crafted an intensely entertaining novel, so good, it could pull my head out of my own
You get the idea.


  1. Interesting. I kinda took the guy bonding stuff for granted, was more impressed by the kick-ass heroine. Also the fact that he could make a chess game exciting.

    BTW, did you know Benioff is the screenwriter for the new Wolverine movie?

  2. I did know! It really stoked the nerd fire I've been cultivating for that movie. And yes, that was a pretty kick-ass heroine, though I think the structure of the story (with the dramatic climax coming to a close with Kolya, and the epilogue addressing the lady-friend) puts the focus on them boys.