Writing

Slider Review

I don’t typically review books, mostly because I’m lousy at it. But recently a very fine novel crossed my threshold and I thought I’d tell you about it. It will be on store shelves in September, so consider kicking off your fall reading with…

Slider by Pete Hautman

Slider cover

Here’s a secret I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone before: Pete Hautman (whom I’ve never met) is responsible for one of my books.

You see, I read and devoured and was forever transformed by his quite exceptional novel Godless, which is still, in my estimation, one of the best critiques of religion I’ve ever read.

In under 250 pages.

Godless coverI was utterly gobsmacked by that book, by Hautman’s audacity and intellect and wit. And by the fact that he was able to establish and transform characters and offer up a scathing rebuke to religious thought, all in a little over 200 pages.

Meanwhile, I had just written 600 pages about a kid screwing his teacher. Consider me properly chastened.

I wanted to do what Hautman had done and so I wrote Hero-Type, in which I tried to apply a Hautman-esque ethos to politics. (I failed miserably, but that’s not his fault.)

Anyway, I’m in awe of Pete Hautman, so I was thrilled to get my greedy little hands on an advance copy of Slider, his new middle-grade novel.

Slider is the story of David, an endlessly hungry tween who aspires to competitive eating greatness. He can slurp down an entire pizza in nothing flat, and now that he accidentally charged $2000 on his mom’s credit card, he really really needs to win the big state eating contest…or he’s dead meat.

Throw in adolescent confusion, two best friends who seem to be becoming closer than is comfortable, and an autistic younger brother who sucks all the oxygen (and attention) out of the room, and you have a recipe for something truly different and powerful. In Hautman’s hands, that recipe ends up perfectly balanced. He deftly combines humor, pathos, yearning, and introspection, never allowing any one of them to overpower the others. You’re rooting for David all along, living in his head, and never once do you feel manipulated by authorial fiat.

Most amazing of all, Hautman makes you care about the obsessive detail of a competitive eater, even if the thought of eating more than one hot dog at a sitting makes you want to retch.

Slider has brains and heart and an iron cast stomach…and it certainly has one hell of a funny bone. You can preorder your copy with the links below.

July ACLU Fundraiser: “The Life Cycle of Stars (Ignition)”

Weird, long title, eh? Read the story — it’ll make sense. I promise.

Life Cycle of Stars cover

ALL PROCEEDS FROM THIS STORY BENEFIT THE AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION!

With her son now in school, bored stay-at-home mom Heather no longer needs to stay at home. At the local university, she starts auditing classes, looking for something to do as her husband desperately tries to turn his garage band into something more. She studies cinema and literature and then astronomy.

Where she meets Jamie.

In the life cycle of stars, ignition is dangerous, powerful, and necessary. In the life cycle of Heather, it can be all of these, and more.

As with all of the fundraisers, this story is only available for one month and costs $1.99. Please buy the story and spread the word!

ACLU Bonus: “Four Minutes”

Of the six stories published thus far for my series of ACLU fundraisers, the one that’s gotten the biggest reaction has been April’s “Four Minutes.”

As a result, I’ve decided to put it back on sale for the foreseeable future, so that people who missed it can have another shot at it. The new price is $2.99, to give even more money to the ACLU.

Download it, read it, and spread the word!

 

ALL PROCEEDS FROM THIS STORY GO TO THE AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION!Four Minutes cover

The place: The suburbs.

The time: Tomorrow, maybe.

The situation: Ray is just trying to get by in the newer, greater America. With a wife and a new baby, he can’t afford to get mixed up in politics or the fight for civil liberties. But as the world shrinks and darkens around him, Ray finds that the safe harbor he’s crafted for himself and his family may not be big enough or strong enough to stand.

And then one night, there’s a knock at the door. Now there’s nowhere to hide, and soon Ray will have to make the hardest decision of his life.

With cold, relentless precision, Barry Lyga explores a future that is too close for comfort in what might be his darkest, most disturbing work to date.

“Four Minutes” may, indeed, be the most brutal thing I’ve ever written. And that’s saying something.

You can find “Four Minutes” here:

Interview: Little Brown Podcast

My editor, Alvina Ling, and I spent some time chatting on the Little, Brown Podcast. The topic? Bang…and guilt.

Listen to it here.

June ACLU Fundraiser: Her Decade

Here is June’s fundraiser short story for the ACLU:

ALL PROCEEDS FROM THIS STORY GO TO THE AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION!

A young man celebrates his eighteenth birthday with some drinking. Who could get hurt?

Susan Ann Marchetti, that’s who. Killed in a drinking and driving accident. And now the young man who killed her will grow to adulthood visiting her each year, as the anniversary of his birth becomes the anniversary of her death. Ten birthdays at a grave could harden anyone; who will he be at the end of this decade?

Set in the same world as Bang, Boy Toy, and other Lyga novels, “Her Decade” forms a crucial backdrop to those stories, opening up new details as it reveals a powerful history for the town of Brookdale.

As with all of the fundraiser stories, “Her Decade” sells for $1.99 and will only be available for one month. Please buy the story and spread the word!