Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Book-A-Day #30: VILLAGE BOOKS by Craig McLay


Kindle Original
$3.99, available now
Rating: 3.5* of five

The Publisher Says: Village Books is a local institution…which is good, because most of the staff probably belong in one.

There’s the manager, Dante Andolini, who’s hiding more than just his hypochondria from his overbearing mother…Sebastian Donleavy, whose hedonistic lifestyle is two rails short of being on the rails…Aldous Swinghammer, whose philosophical eccentricities have not been the biggest hit with the ladies…Ebeneezer Chipping, whose crotchety exterior hides a burning passion for the Spanish √©migr√© next door…Mina Bovary, whose crazy husband may have just gone AWOL with an arsenal of fragmentary explosive devices…and the store’s long-suffering assistant manager, who is spinning his wheels in retail while he waits for something better to come along.

That something better may be new assistant manager Leah Dashwood, an aspiring actress with an ambitious plan to transform the store and its staff in a way that will turn their carefully disordered world on its head. Will the store survive? Will it be bought over by its evil corporate competition? All questions will be answered (but not necessarily in that order) in this hilarious debut novel.

My Review: The Doubleday UK meme, a book a day for July 2014, is the goad I'm using to get through my snit-based unwritten reviews. Today's prompt, the thirtieth, was a "double-dip" and frankly I don't care what they picked, I was ready for this game to be over last week.

This is a first novel, and it's not too awful terrible well-constructed on a plot level. Too many things are dropped, then re-appear; too many people are shuffled from pillar to post and then needed back at pillar so whoopsie-daisy there they are. Motivations are, to put it mildly, unclear.

But you know what? I liked the characters. I liked the crazy bookstore people. I laughed out loud several times:
Trying to make her angry is like trying to find a corner on a bowling ball.
He went to India to "find himself" last year, but evidently he wasn't there, and he came back empty-handed.
Most of the humor isn't pull-quotable because it requires some familiarity with the situation. No matter, it was amusing, and several things rang very true. The Irish publican who served a drink called "the Englishman's Tits" to people he doesn't like. It's a shuddersome decoction. It involves beets.

So I meandered through the plot holes, I skipped over the male fantasy-fulfillment stuff, I sighed in mild annoyance at the pat ending. And I enjoyed a few hours of uncomplicated pleasantries exchanged among people I thought needed a swift kick. I'm not going to tell you to break your thumbs one-clicking it, but believe me it's got a little something extra to reward the tired, smile-hunting Kindle reader.

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