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Review of The Municipalists in Booklist

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Thanks to Booklist for this cool review of The Municipalists:

Fried’s buddy-cop science-fiction debut features an infrastructure-obsessed bureaucrat and a rogue AI system teaming up to try and take down a mysterious conspiracy set on destroying the idyllic city of Metropolis. The obnoxious antics of artificial intelligence OWEN, who finds both children and seniors suspicious, and who spends much of his time figuring out how to replicate the sensation of becoming drunk, contrast brilliantly against the serious Henry, a man with few friends and a love of trains and transit, whose main personality trait is dedication to his work. Fried’s skill at making their friendship so dynamic, mismatched, and often ridiculous is what makes this novel so effective—OWEN and Henry’s quest to defeat an evil genius becomes a touching and funny caper that keeps the reader intrigued through the final pages. Meanwhile, in the background floats a quiet debate about the modern city. Fried gestures to city-planning thinkers such as Ebenezer Howard and Jane Jacobs, revealing his careful research and thought into the ways that targeted infrastructure and funding can encourage neglect and gentrification. 

I don’t know about you, but I think that sounds pretty good. I mean, I’d be skeptical if this review came from a publication called Boogerlist or PullMyFingerlist. But this is Booklist we’re talking about. I’m willing to bet they know a thing or two about books (and maybe even lists). So this feels like a pretty compelling recommendation.

Plotto: The Master Book of All Plots

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A few months ago, a friend of mine introduced me to a book titled Plotto: The Master Book of All Plots. It was an old, stuffy-looking book that seemed like it would make your heart explode from sheer boredom if you ever dared to flip through it. However, once my friend started reading some passages aloud, I realized at once that Plotto is one of those rare volumes that is both indispensable and yet just crazy enough to make you pray for the author’s loved ones.

It contains hundreds of amazing conflict situations like these:

-B, attacked by a huge snake, suffers a psychic shock.

-A hopes, by a surgical operation on his skull, to be made immune from the “master passion.”

-A, obsessed with a fear of burglars, places a wax figure in his bed at night and sleeps in a locked closet.

I knew the book had to be mine. Unfortunately, it was no longer in print. The copies I found online were all fetching sums that were roughly equal to what I tend to pay for a blazer. But just as I was processing the psychic shock that came from being attacked by the giant snake that was Plotto’s absence from my bookshelf,  I learned that the good people at Tin House were going to be releasing a new edition of Plotto at a far more reasonable price (about what I pay for pants).

You can grab it here.

In order to celebrate the re-release of such an amazing book, I have come up with a few of my own conflict situations. Enjoy:

-An inventor, B, is attacked by D, who is a tickle monster.

-X, a man named Z, and Y, a man named T, are both addicted to punching.

-W is a genius cheese maker whose cheese is prohibitively expensive. X is a cracker maker whose crackers are affordable but bad-tasting. The two never meet.

-G, a pterodactyl, thinks it’s funny to use public restrooms without flushing the toilet.

-L, a karate champion, falls in love with B, who is against karate.

A Complete List of All Books

In order to celebrate the fact that my debut short story collection, The Great Frustration, will be released in about a month, I have decided to compile a list of all the books that have ever been published. In addition to it being a fun opportunity to promote TGF, I figured it could serve as a scholarly resource (which is pretty much how I think of my blog anyway). Without further ado, here they are in no particular order:

Graham’s French to English Dictionary

The Helicopter Joke Book

Jump-Around Howie’s Big Book of Obvious Riddles

The Panther in the Cauldron: A Diaper Lewis Mystery

A Parent’s Guide to Making Your Children Invincible to Witches

How to Tell Which Children Are Invincible to You: A Witch’s Handbook

Mission to Cars: How to Attend an Auto Show

Dr. Paul d'Artagnan’s Low Calorie Workout

Also:

Phone books

It’s pretty humbling to see all those titles listed one after another. It’s enough to make me realize that The Great Frustration will be little more than a grain of sand in an immense desert. Nevertheless, as far as grains of sand go, it’s going to be awesome. Oh, also: Huckleberry Finn.

Top Five Most Anticipated Books of 2011

It’s that time of year again in which I predict the books we’re all going to be reading and talking about in 2011. My selection process is simple; I base my predictions on a series of questionnaires that are filled out by booksellers and librarians all over the country. The questionnaires are administered, collected, and analyzed by a team of official survey proctors from The Institute of Statistical Mathematics. Those proctors then submit the compiled data to me and I report it to you here as objectively as possible.

1.) The Great Frustration by Seth Fried

Needless to say, I was shocked and thrilled to learn that my debut short story collection is the most anticipated book of 2011. I mean, it’s weird. I worked really hard on the book, and I was confident that people would like it. But to get this kind of validation before the book is even released is pretty overwhelming.

2. A back-up copy of The Great Frustration by Seth Fried

This one came as a pretty big surprise as well. Though, if you’ve dropped as many books in the tub as I have, it makes total sense.

3.) CliffsNotes guide to The Great Frustration by Seth Fried

While I hate to think of students taking the easy way out with respect to my book, the fact of the matter is that my stories are packed with some pretty dense imagery. Without the benefit of a little guidance, my prose could come off as downright intimidating to a young reader. It is for this reason that – with some reservations – I’m glad to see this guide take 2011’s number three spot. Used correctly, I’m confident that it will help enhance people’s reading experience.

4.) Ebook of The Great Frustration by Seth Fried

Ebooks are here to stay people. We all know that making things electronic is the same thing as making them better. Though, make sure to avoid enjoying my ebook if you have a pacemaker or are on a plane that is about to take off.

5.) Sadly, it was discovered during the course of this study that people only buy four books a year. My condolences to any forthcoming title that did not make the list.