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Another fine mess

Reader fan critic teacher reader fan.

Currently reading

Ottessa Moshfegh
Knife Fight and Other Struggles
David Nickle
Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity
Andrew Solomon
The Good Lord Bird
James McBride
Ancillary Justice
Ann Leckie
Our Underachieving Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should Be Learning More (New Edition)
Derek Bok
Dissident Gardens
Jonathan Lethem
Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s
Kim Newman
The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood
James Gleick
Complete Novels
Dashiell Hammett, Steven Marcus
Skinner - Charlie Huston I'd lean higher, maybe--this was phenomenal. The novel zips; the prose is knotty, carefully-crafted, witty. E.g.,

describing a late-night excursion to a sandwich shop in Germany, an employee playing music from an old touch-wheel iPod: A staccato riff from the speakers, no midrange, bass qualities overmatched by the quantities of low end trying to pass through them, treble trying to carry all the information compressed into the MP3 file that emerges as music. Soundtrack in the modern age, tinny, slight, cranked-up, always referencing the past.

A gunman running, his cheek pressed to the stock of an assault rifle that seemed to protrude from his shoulder like an organic growth, a sensing organ that pulled him toward targets of opportunity.

The novel's plot both re-energizes the tropes of espionage fiction and re-imagines core concerns for the 21st century. I thought about the book while ripping through it. The corporatization of security, the rise of the Shock Doctrine, climate change, information overload, perverse inequalities of economic resources. And a central character defined by a central conceit--an agent who was raised in a Skinner box, conditioned and conditioning as deep resonant metaphors for social/global behavior. That rare bird: a thriller as exhilirating for its concepts as for its execution.

Just talked myself into five stars.

I read Huston's first couple of novels, and I liked 'em, but not enough to keep on top of his prolific output. Skinner has me reconsidering--Huston is now an author I have to read.