Wednesday February 12, 2014

Should I read it? Adam Sternbergh's "Shovel Ready" + giveaway

Listen 6:55

Canadian author Adam Sternbergh's debut novel "Shovel Ready" has been well received. But should you read it? Day 6's resident book columnist, Becky Toyne, joins us to discuss whether the book lives up to its hype.

We have one copy of "Shovel Ready" to give away. To enter that give away just email day6 @ (remove spaces) with "SHOVEL READY" in the subject line. Please include your name and mailing address. Contest closes Thursday, February 20.

To read Becky's extended review click on 'read more'

Shovel Ready: Extended Review
By Becky Toyne

Shovel Ready by Adam Stenbergh is a noir/sci-fi/cyberpunk blend, and written in a high-velocity, spare style, it lends itself to being read in a single sitting or two. A novel that spans multiple genres comes with many ideas for further reading. Here are some of them:

For near-future noir: The Warhol Gang by Peter Darbyshire 

Like the rich in Shovel Ready who plug into the limnosphere, a dream world of their own making, the blue-collar protagonist of The Warhol Gang also climbs into a pod every day. Only he does it as his job, for a neuromarketing company that scans his brain as he views endless holographic images of new products. In both near-future novels, consumption has run amok, underground crime is rife, and there's an element of wanting your 15 minutes (or more) of fame.

For literary sci-fi crafted in a similarly spare style: The Road by Cormac McCarthy 

The spare literary style of Shovel Ready - short sentences, clipped dialogue - and the fact that you can easily read it in a sitting or two immediately calls to mind The Road. Cormac McCarthy's profoundly moving postapocalyptic novel has been a book club favourite since it was published in 2006. McCarthy's future America is bleak, dark, and dangerous, but the relationship between a father and son as they travel the road offers beauty and love, if not quite hope.

Adam Sternbergh's novel spans multiple genres, which adds to its broad appeal. Four other novelists pushing genre boundaries are: 

  • Andrew Kaufman writes funny, magical realist fiction, and once wrote a book of short stories inspired by vintage business letterhead (sadly now out of print). His brilliant novella The Tiny Wife will finally be available in Canada in May. 

  • Sheila Heti's international break-out book, How Should a Person Be, is a novel and not a novel. The book is based on recorded interviews with Heti's friends and features a character named Sheila. Reviews were mixed but plentiful, but the novel/not novel was a runaway success.

  • Poet, author and cultural critic Lynn Crosbie also blurs the lines between fiction and nonfiction in her work. Her most recent book, Life Is about Losing Everything, blends personal memoir and fiction and chronicles seven years of the author's life in stories.

  • Patrick deWitt revived the classic Western and gave it a comic twist with his 2011 award-winning bestseller The Sisters Brothers. A picaresque buddy story filled with shoot-em-ups, double-crossing and changes of heart.