Enjoyed The Lives of Monster Dogs by Kirsten Bakis. I thought some of the plot points were overly coincidental (Cleo’s first meeting with Ludwig, the doctor discovering Rank’s first creation), but Bakis has tremendous skill within scenes and with the overall theme, and those more than carry the book. By positioning these monster dogs somewhere between human and animal, she outlines the boundaries of what defines humanity. Also, Bakis’ skill with coherently rendering the unreal makes the prose a joy to read.

I loved everything about Ken Sparling’s Dad Says He Saw You at the Mall: The language, the shifting focus, the way Sparling gently signifies the passage of time. The prose is minimal to the point of being stilted, but there’s also a great deal of warmth in it. The structure of the book is flat — there’s no grand conflict that’s solved by the end — but the trials of day to day life instill the book with a sort of drama, and Sparling’s sharpened prose propels the book forward. The fact that this book continues to be in print just warms the shit out of my heart.

Jessica Pratt’s On Your Own Love Again is a wonderful album. It’s a straightforward guitar and lyrics set, but Pratt’s writing and elegant guitar work elevate the recording. Carey Mercer has some great words on the album (particularly the technical designation “killer guitar tone”) over at The Talkhouse.