Tag Archives: first novel

“Jeeves and the King of Clubs” by Ben Schott


This “new arrivals shelf” book has a subtitle. I usually dislike subtitles, but this one actually conveys useful information! “A Novel in Homage to PG Wodehouse”. Irresistible! I’ve read Wodehouse and watched any number of the humorous video adaptations shown on the BBC. Jeeves and the King of Clubs was so much fun to read. Schott’s website informed me that Jeeves was authorized by the Wodehouse estate.

Sometimes the language is a bit “cute”, and there’s anachronism here and there (“flash mob”? really?), but a good dose of Wooster and Jeeves was just what I needed this week. Highly recommended when you crave escape fiction and don’t want to stumble onto angst or gratuitous violence.

I looked up Ben Schott. Jeeves is his first novel, released in late 2018. His previous, non-fiction works were lists, an “almanac” and a “miscellany”. In 2013, he published Schottenfreude: German Words for the Human Condition. I want it! Please keep writing, Ben Schott!

“Killer and Victim” by Chris Lambert

You know the expression “so many books, so little time”? It only becomes more meaningful as the years pass. I think I now qualify as a senior citizen, or senior reader, and I have given myself permission to read CASUALLY. Very casually! I used to finish any book I started… No more! And if I want to skip around, read from the back to the front, whatever, I do so.

And that’s how I read and enjoyed Chris Lambert’s Killer and Victim. It’s not very linear. It’s best read slowly. Some parts of it are devoid of paragraphs and light on punctuation, features that would bother me if I were in a hurry.

What Lambert has mastered is mood and atmosphere. The first chapter of the book was weird, creepy and totally intriguing. Lambert managed to trigger several of my phobias, like confined spaces and being separated from my cell phone. (Please don’t laugh.) I stopped to wonder just how scary the novel might be. I’m glad I kept going! After Chapter 2, I started skipping around and enjoying the adventure.

Killer and Victim is a wonderful and exciting first novel, and I look forward to further literary adventures with Chris Lambert.

“Courting Greta” by Ramsey Hootman

In my post of January 20, I talked about my problems choosing fiction. Here’s another! What if it’s TOO GOOD? What if I can’t put it down, lose a whole day, neglect an obligation? Has this happened? Yes. It’s a wonder I didn’t get arrested for child neglect when I read The Raj Quartet by Paul Scott.

Courting Greta is probably not as good as The Raj Quartet, but it kept my attention. I stayed up late to read.

The protagonist is Samuel Cooke, a brilliant computer geek trapped by in a severely damaged body. He can walk, but with difficulty. He grew up in an  abusive family, and has emotional issues. We don’t really learn what (aside from boredom?) caused him to leave his high powered job and go to work as a substitute teacher in a public high school. He falls for and courts the gym teacher Greta, a big, hard edged woman with “a past” who has everyone, teachers and students alike, seriously intimidated.

At first I thought this was a setup for something very trite – handicapped man can only find love with deeply neurotic woman. Two damaged people settling for “damaged goods” in the marriage market. Thank goodness Hootman didn’t go in that direction! Her characters were complex and interesting. They fight and love their way to a relationship full of promise.

Was this book an intentional “consciousness raiser”? I don’t know. I caused me to reflect on the “handicapped” among my friends and relations. One thing I know is that it is chancy to use that category. People’s lives and conditions are so varied! I just hope my friends find what they are looking for in love, maybe without as much difficulty as Samuel and Greta.