Lonely Werewolf Girl, Martin Millar

I was very skeptical about Martin Millar. I heard about Martin Millar from Neil Gaiman’s website, because he (Neil Gaiman) wrote an introduction to The Good Fairies of New York extolling its manifold virtues, so I got it from the library because I liked the title. I didn’t expect much out of it. The last time I trusted Neil Gaiman’s opinion, I read four books by Jonathan Carroll and hated them all desperately. (Yes, the obvious question is why did I read four of them then, and the answer is, I’ve no idea, it was long ago and I can’t remember. I think I hoped that the previous ones were just flukes and I would soon come to love Jonathan Carroll – like when I first read Diana Wynne Jones’s books and hated them – but that never happened.) So I didn’t think I was going to like Martin Millar either.

But I was so, so wrong. Martin Millar is a delight. I want to give Martin Millar a hug because his books please me so much. The Good Fairies of New York was charming, and they found a flower.

Lonely Werewolf Girl is better, however. Which is partly because it’s longer, so there’s more of it to charm me, and partly because all the threads of subplots come together really nicely at the end. It’s about a werewolf girl called Kalix who is very, very dysfunctional and the youngest daughter of the royal MacLannach werewolf family, and all the dreadful and exciting things that befall her family. There are many subplots. They dovetail beautifully at the twins’ gig when the werewolves have a great big knock-down-drag-out. It’s all very impressive.

The thing about Martin Millar’s books, at least the two that I’ve read – which is definitely not enough to qualify me to state this opinion about Martin Millar’s books generally, but is also not my fault because I live in a city in the Deep South where despite the surprisingly wonderful public library system there is a dearth of contemporary British fiction – is that he is very fond of that traditional British humor mechanism in which everything goes spectacularly to hell. In fact I read a study one time that said that British people love sitcoms like Fawlty Towers where things start from a point of order and then descend into chaos, whereas American people – something else that I don’t remember. Anyway, this kind of humor sometimes gives me stressful feelings, but with Martin Millar, I have faith that everything will iron itself out.

Besides which there is just something very sweet about this book. And Good Fairies. They make me want to go enjoy other sweet things, like the Brownings’ letters to each other, and that episode of Angel where he first has little baby Connor and defends him from the vampire cults, and that episode of Buffy where she gets an award at her prom and it always makes me cry, and that book we had when I was little about the persnickety old lady who learns valuable lessons about love from a little Christmas angel. Which, um, may not have been what Martin Millar intended when he wrote it.

Edit to add: I discovered Martin Millar’s blog, and it sounds like he does a lot of reveling in the joy that is Buffy. (Like me.) A man after my own heart.

The Year of Living Biblically, A.J. Jacobs

Recommended by: A Life in Books

So basically I finished this book late last night and I was dead tired; but I still managed to have many thoughts about it after I had dropped it onto my flip chair and turned off the light, and they all sort of centered around the thought that this man could use some serious cognitive behavioral therapy.  He might really enjoy cognitive behavioral therapy, I was thinking, because of its structured, project-like nature, and furthermore it would make him less crazy (and I use that word in its nicest sense).  I was composing a letter to him in my mind, but then I guess I fell asleep because the next thing I remember was thinking, How lucky are we?  What a fortunate congregation!  Kristin Chenoweth gives such good homilies, and all of them sung in her beautiful voice!

Seriously, though, Mr. Jacobs sounds mad neurotic, and this is from a girl of much anxiety and obsessiveness.  But I’m not in his league, dude.  Whoa.

Now that that’s out of my system, I will say that I enjoyed this book.  It was entertaining, and it was amusing, and I think it’s an interesting kind of project to undertake.  And I know comparisons are odious but! too bad! his other book, to avoid reading my mum’s birthday gift copy of which I checked this one out of the library, was funnier – but maybe I am just prejudiced in its favor because I liked the encyclopedia project idea a lot better.

This project wasn’t as structured to begin with, and the result is that the writing is less tight, and the structure he uses for the book doesn’t really work.  It’s organized chronologically, and it prevents everything from being orderly, even a teeny bit orderly.  It’s just messy.  Messy.  I don’t like a mess.  I think he would have done better organizing it in chapters by commandment clusters, rather than by time.

As I say, I enjoyed the book, but I wouldn’t buy it and I doubt I’ll read it again.  The Know-It-All, those bits of it I read at the bookshop, seemed like more of a keeper.  When my mum finishes it and I can borrow her copy, I will let you know if I am correct. (I think I will be.) (I usually am.)