His entry begins:
Alistair MacLeod's story collection Island is a solemn masterpiece. The solemnity is located primarily in the prose; though simple, declarative, and concrete – MacLeod has clearly been influenced by the early Hemingway – there is a fable-like eeriness to his style as he tells the stories of spiritually deprived people living an austere life in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. MacLeod’s is an austerity worthy of Jack London, and yet London cannot match the haunting beauty of MacLeod’s narratives and the prose that sustains them. Without purple poetics or elusive abstractions, the prose often builds to a lulling, hypnotic effect, and once it has pulled you into MacLeod’s world, it feels...[read on]Among the early praise for Busy Monsters:
“Busy Monsters may be the best literary present you could bring to a brainy guy’s bachelor party. It boasts lots of gonzo adventure, wacky sex and an endorsement by Harold Bloom ... William Giraldi’s cocky first novel is a romance for real men—real nerdy men willing to fight for a woman’s heart.... These busy antics are awfully funny, particularly his scheme to impress Gillian by capturing Big Foot with the help of a crazy hunter-scholar named Romp ... Hijinks keep spiking through this screwball narrative, but what really keeps pumping it alive is that impossibly odd and self-conscious voice, a mixture of 19th-century gentility and modern hipster.... It’s irresistibly strange.... [Giraldi] has used this young lover’s manic, incongruous voice to produce one of the weirdest comic novels of the year. And he has a delicate sweetness that shows through at just the right moments in what is, after all, a very old, romantic story."Learn more about the book and author at the Busy Monsters website and Facebook page.
—Ron Charles, The Washington Post
"Comedy, satire, farce, language ... Busy Monsters has the kind of agenda that gives heft to the picaresque novels from which it is derived."
—The New York Times Book Review
“In his riotous debut novel—up there with, say, James Wilcox's Modern Baptists—Giraldi tells the story of Charles Homar, a jilted fiancé who embarks on a hilariously ill-advised odyssey to win back his beloved.... Charles's journey—filled with offbeat characters, seen through a perfectly skewed worldview, and related in an idiosyncratic voice—might remind readers of the one taken by the equally wrong-headed Ray Midge in Charles Portis's comic masterpiece, The Dog of the South.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Here we have a seriocomic picaresque that references everything from The Odyssey to medieval romances to Don Quixote and Moby-Dick. A brilliant first novel that may well be in the running for 2011's literary awards."
—Library Journal (starred review)
Writers Read: William Giraldi.