LitPicks Book Reviews—January 2015

This month's theme—Stuck
It's easy to get stuck—in a dull job, untenable relationship, or humdrum life. But this month's books
follow three men, often with hilarity, who find themselves stuck in unimaginable, even absurd, situations.
 
Labels: A Lighter Touch

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The Global War on Morris
Steve Israel, 2014
304 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
January, 2015
Who knew U.S. Congressmen could be so funny? On purpose. They're certainly funny when they issue policy pronouncements or cringe-worthy apologies—except those aren't meant to make us laugh.

But Rep. Steve Israel of Long Island has written a hilarious satire that gets us laughing from page one—intentionally. His hero Morris Feldstein is a happless Walter Mitty type, who's spent his whole life playing it safe—in his career, marriage, everything—because he has a severe allergy to trouble.

So there you have the trope behind this parody of the War on Terror. Who else but a schlemeil like Morris could get caught up in the grand sweep of paranoia following 9/11?

 

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The Martian
Andy Weir, 2014
387 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
January, 2015
You're screwed. You're alone...stranded millions of miles from earth...and everyone there thinks you're dead. But you're not, are you? At least, not yet—although unless you're really, really smart, you will be.

So how smart is "really smart"? Well, as smart as an astronaut or NASA ground operator. Those people are super smart, and if you're one of them, or in contact with one of them, your chances of survival are much improved.

Turns out, you're an astronaut!—which is how you landed (so to speak) in this mess to begin with, and which also means you might just survive till the next Mars landing in 4 years.

 
Labels: Great Works

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Catch-22
Joseph Heller, 1961
544 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
January, 2015
Catch-22—with its wild, dark comedic view of war, power, greed, and corruption—is one of the great works of the 20th century. Fifty years ago, the title itself landed in the popular lexicon, referring to a logical trap from which there's no way out: You must do A before you can do B, but there's no way to do A without first doing B. Tah-dah...you're stuck.

Like the twisted logic the title refers to, reading the book creates its own sense of absurdity. You love it, yet you don't. You find it hilarious yet horrifying. You end on a sense of hope but also despair. By the end, readers are left dangling—like the iconic figure on its cover.

 

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