Book Reviews V

Even as my stint here at Hennepin County seems to be coming to an end (no luck on a permanent job as yet), I have two more book reviews for your enjoyment…WILDERNESS by Dennis Danvers, and DISTANCE HAZE, by Jamil Nasir.
I’ve decided to go back and start re-numbering these entries, like a series.

WILDERNESS, by Dennis Danvers
In literature, werewolves are usually of the male gender. There are exceptions Regeane from the Alice Borchardt novels is female, for example. But the archetype is male. To say the least, female werewolves are much less common.
The protagonist of WILDERNESS is one, in a modern day setting. Jumping between a couple of viewpoint characters (mainly the men in her life), it details the pain and hardship that this woman who feels herself a perpetual outsider undergoes, especially when she does find a man that she thinks she can build a relationship.
The novel focuses on these relationships far more than the mechanics of the lycanthropy. Its not a secret; her psychologist knows, and she tells her would-be beau Erik at one point. Its these relationships which make the novel an engaging, quick read.
DISTANCE HAZE, by Jamil Nasir
This is the second book of his that I have read, Nasir seems to have a thing about dreams. In this novel, SF author Wayne Dolan goes to visit a rather strange Institute in SW Michigan that is attempting to prove the existence of God. Add in a strange cast of researchers ranging from the deadly serious to near-cranks, and unusual visions and dreams, and a rather odd subplot involving the crippled daughter of one of the researchers.
The novel rubbed me wrong on several counts. Like TOWER OF DREAMS, Nasir seems to not have a real “ending” here, the novel just sort of stops. One stylistic thing that bugged me was the constant referral to the fact that Dolan lived “in the Mid-Atlantic region”. Dolan even uses the phrase himself at one point. Frankly, it just seemed jarring and artificial, and clumsy usage that made me cringe. While the interplay and interweaving of dreams and mundane reality is intriguing, I cannot recommend the book.