Buckley exaggerates the talking points of both sides in the tobacco debate. The result is ludicrous and delightfully incorrect in this day of safe spaces – thank YOU for daring, Mr. Buckley.
Thank You for Smoking · Christopher Buckley · 1994
Random House, 2006 · 272 pages, paperback
Nick Naylor is the PR guy for Big Tobacco in Christopher Buckley’s Thank You for Smoking, a laugh-out-loud satire that’s funny because it’s true.
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell feels like the best of British literature, combining Sherlock Holmes eccentricity with the warm/cool, fast/slow, fun/grim adventure of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and then dropping in a bit of Wilkie Collins’ gothic ambiguity. In short, Susanna Clarke’s novel is a fantasy that has in it a lot more than a wonderful story.
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell · Susanna Clarke · 2004
Bloomsbury, 2017 · 1006 pages, paperback
Magic has gone out of England. Magicians as they are now are just ordinary men with their noses in books and whose tongues form words of speculation instead of incantation. Magic isn’t something that is done – oh no, not anymore – magic is something to be theorized, opined about, written down in lines of rhetoric…magic in this age, the Age of Napoleon, is only an armchair philosophy. Enter stuffy Mr. Norrel, recluse of Hurtfew Abbey, practical magician.
Though it lacks the celerity of its titular continental train, Graham Greene’s novel Orient Express still bears the fervid desires of fleeting travel.
Orient Express · Graham Greene · 1933
Penguin, 2004 · 197 pages, paperback
Greene’s novel feels, to borrow a line from its prose, “as if all the floors of a house fell and left the walls standing.” With Orient Express Greene puts our perceptions of the temporary to great effect. He doesn’t exhort us to seize the day! as seems most common for stories that trade in the temporal. Instead, he promotes its unreal and delaying nature, the idea that this, too, shall pass and that, by extension, its affairs don’t actually exist. Moreover, he uses the more common aspect (i.e. making use of a moment) to etch more deeply this feeling of unreality: the rare instances in the novel where his characters do act on impulse are immediately subverted by their juxtaposition with the mere thoughts, the unfulfilled wonderment, of what going all the way might entail.