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The Orange Eats Creeps, by Grace Krilanovich
Vampires are saturating books, movies, and even music right now, but thankfully The Orange Eats Creeps is a vampire novel unlike anything else. “Slutty Teenage Hobo Vampire Junkies” ravage the Pacific Northwest in search of methamphetamine and blood. Wrapped up in this festering novel is a coming of age story about a former foster child that gets entangled in the Hobo Vampire lifestyle. What remains unsettling about Orange is that readers cannot know if the characters are real vampires – or teenagers who have smoked too much meth. Dark, disturbing, and angry, Krilanovich will pull you into a world you want no part of, but you will not be able to put the book down.
Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, by Tom Wolfe (Read it here!)
This book is so good. If you have any interest in 1960’s counter-culture you should have already read this. If you have not read it, do so before it gets made into a movie and thus becomes irrelevant in literary form. It is an autobiography Tom Wolfe wrote while traveling cross-country with Ken Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters. On Kesey’s bus there is an endless supply of acid laced kool-aid from which the Pranksters sample daily. Not only is this story a vivid description of the effects of LSD – it is historically interesting. It profiles not only Kesey, but also Timothy Leary and the Grateful Dead. In a time when 60s and 70s fads are constantly recycled – this book gives insight to the truth.
Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs (Read it here!)
Not only written about a heroin addicted traveler named William, it was written by a heroin addicted traveler named William. Burroughs is famous for writing, drugs, and shooting his wife in the head on “accident,” Naked Lunch is his most influential work. The jumpy plot follows William through time, space, and across the world, through orgies, murders, and on different drug trips. This book has been on trial countless times for obscenity and inappropriate subject matter, but that has not stopped people from reading it. Don’t be discouraged if it confuses you on the first read, the chapters are meant to be read in any order the reader desires.
Valley of the Dolls, by Jacqueline Susann (Read it here!)
Valley of the Dolls is a tragic story of three women struggling to make-it in Hollywood in the 1940’s. Amid auditions, abortions, and failed relationships they find success, demise, and dolls, which is code for sleeping pills. Jennifer can only get people to love her body, not her talent. When she loses her best assets to cancer she turns to the dolls for relief. Anne and Neely do not have it any better than their friend Jennifer. They too make a series of wrong turns and end up dependent on the dolls for sleep and solace. This is a story about choices and disappointment and how one usually leads to the other. For Jennifer, Anne, and Neely the disappointment can only be soothed by the dolls.
The Magicians, by Lev Grossman (Read it here!)
This book is usually advertised by the tagline, “the Harry Potter for adults,” and that’s pretty accurate. High school graduates are sent to a highly exclusive college where they are turned into magicians who can do actual magic. What makes this book interesting and not just another trite fantasy novel is that it is set at a university and centers around students in their early twenties who are want to sleep around and consume copious amounts of alcohol. The most compelling character is Eliot, a terribly pretentious and self-described “dipsomaniac” (fancy word for alcoholic.) The reader spends most of the book willing Eliot to put down the sixth bottle of rare and obscure wine long enough to cast a spell. When Eliot and the group discover the realm they have been searching for, we are left to wonder if it will be enough to quell his drinking.
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