13 October 2014

Review: Wolf in White Van

Wolf in White Van
Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Books by musicians, I've found, are continually risky. I can hear at least two of my close friends saying "but wait, John Darnielle!" and I would simply respond with how much I didn't care for Colin Meloy's efforts, and the two of them are both good lyricists. Still, when Wolf in White Van hit my library system, I made sure to put a hold on it.

Then it got nominated for a National Book Award.

Okay, so I guess I'm in. Award-nominated, I'm a fan of The Mountain Goats, so I dive in on a book where my expectations were understandlibly tempered and ended up finishing the book over the course of the evening, as it's one of the more poetic, straightforward, enjoyable contemporary reads I've consumed in a while.

The story is a little fractured, which only helps with the reveals along the way. We have a murder/wrongful death case, it involves a man who has been significantly disabled due to an accident (I don't want to give too much away), and he also ran a roleplaying-game-by-mail service. These are all interrelated issues, and we get a peek into his childhood and upbringing along with his mentality along the way.

It's the tale of a broken person, or broken people, and has enough cultural touchstones and references to go along with the tale to end up being a very different story than what I normally read, and one I really loved. Whether this breaks a lot of new ground in the sort of literary fiction universes that I don't spend a ton of time in, that's for other people to say. The book, however, deserves every accolade it's gotten and is definitely something I recommend for everyone. Really solid book.

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