Tell Me Something Real by Calla Devlin
This book's cover is not doing it any favors. I picked it up at the library because I vaguely remembered hearing some positive buzz about it. I liked some aspects of it, and read it in one fell swoop between work and dinner. It's engaging and all. But even without knowing there was supposed to be a twist (which it says on the jacket), I caught on pretty early as to what that twist would be. And as someone who was a kid in 1976, I felt that while the clothing might have been described accurately, if they'd taken out all mention of the year (and those fashions), I would have thought it was contemporary, just from how people talked.
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
I read this for a specific reason. Some review or TTT list made it sound necessary, and I put it on hold at the library and got it almost right away. But now I can't remember where I heard about it, even though it couldn't have been more than two weeks ago.
At any rate, I read a few chapters before realizing that the author/narrator is a woman, then I got caught up in trying to decide if that changed my view of the story at all. (Not really.) It's just the right length--the first time I sat down with it, I got a bit bored and wondered if I'd finish it, but the second time I sat down with it, I finished it. If it had been a big tome, I think I wouldn't have ever given it that second chance. It's the memoir of an invalid, but she's very oblique about what is going on with her, focusing far more on the life and adventures of a woodland snail a friend places into a terrarium at her bedside. Bailey does a good job at weaving the gastropod research she did then and later into descriptions of that specific snail, and there are plenty of surprising revelations about mollusks, at least for a not-very-sciencey person like me.
Period Eight by Chris Crutcher
Not Chris Crutcher's best, but still a damn sight better than most. All of his hallmarks are there--the dedicated swimmer, the flawed mentor, that one girl who's smarter than all the guys put together, the absent parents and the awful parents, and the guy in the middle, our protagonist, trying to figure out how to be a decent human being in a crappy world, with no more natural heroism than anyone else has been handed. Set all of this in a small town in the inland NW, take a few potshots at racists and other types of bigots, and give everyone a few terrific comebacks and figures of speech, and you're comfortably in Crutcher land. To this he adds a mystery/thriller aspect that's not as typical of his work, and since the first scene features what is clearly a teenaged prostitute leaving a hotel room, you know shit is going to get ugly. (Oh--and cussing. Crutcher is famous for his cussing.) I didn't get as emotionally involved as I did in Whale Talk or Deadline, but it's up there with Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes. In other words--this one made me laugh, but it didn't quite make me cry. Still worth my time.