I like to read fiction with plots that drive forward with cinematic pacing. Not sure why. Well, yes I am. I studied filmmaking back in school and worked for Warner Bros. for a few years. That's probably why. However, I've delved into some historic non-fiction and biography a tad. But none of the boring ones! It's got to fit in with my healthy diet of spy thrillers.
Tim's Staff Picks:
Title: The Snakes
This story is a psychological thriller, but only in the same excellent way that "Breaking Bad" was a crime procedural show. The necessary elements are all there, but it's the way that it's told -- pacing, perspective, detail -- that elevates it to a higher lever of superb drama.
Lesser writers confuse mere conflict for drama. Sadie Jones is far better. Here, the conflict is subtle (at first), pulsing just beneath the surface, like unseen snakes in your attic. And yet, the diminutive conflict leaves room for massive drama that is fragrant, rich, and delicious.
I love how these characters are nearly under-described, but so clearly defined by their simple existence: they way they speak or how they order at a restaurant or the way they hold their room keys.
Sadie Jones is a master magician -- a snake charmer. But this illusion isn't with big set pieces, it's close-up gallery magic. Perfect sleight of hand. This is the best kind of un-contrived thriller, and one that rattles around in your head long after you put it down.
*PS: If you loved "Something in the Water" by Catherine Steadman, you must read this one.
Title: Sounds Like Titanic
This book feels like the a classical-music-version of Almost Famous, an on-tour-with-the-rock-band story with a great soundtrack. Even though “writing about music is like dancing about architecture,”* you can really feel the dance in this memoir. This story is a crazy dance that was so fun to read, and thought provoking, too. Hindman's beautiful prose describes a bizarre plot: Playing the violin for a traveling ensemble that secretly mimes along to a CD player, a detail which the audience never realizes.
I was truly fascinated by the cast of real life characters that are straight out of a Wes Anderson film. A successful Composer who has never heard Beethoven's Fifth. The sensitive mustachioed roadie who gets teary-eyed every time he hears the ensemble perform. The Russian classical violinist who only listens to techno in his car. And Jessica, the young woman in the big city fresh from Appalachia trying to make a living as a professional musician.
I love how weird the real world can be!
*credited to comedian-musician Martin Mull in 1979
Title: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
I started writing this review when I was only one-third of the way into this book: that's how good this is! Because it's almost not about what happens or where this true story goes (even though those aspects are truly captivating!), it's really about how superbly Carreyrou crafts the messy real-life events into a grippingly dramatic business thriller!
DEFINITELY READ if you: