I read two short-ish books over the weekend, both good in different ways. The first book, The Mystery Guest by Gregoire Bouillier, is only 128 pages, yet it makes you pause and think and therefore took longer to read (this is not a complaint). back in 1990, the author receives a phone call from a woman who left him suddenly two years ago and she’s calling not to explain things, but to invite him to a party for a woman he’s never met. In each of the four parts—phone call, preparation, the party, the aftermath—Bouillier uses a combination of earnestness and hyperbolic prose to examine each moment. This true tale seems both absurd and poignant. It’s a book to savor.
In the second book Chinatown Beat by Henry Wang, the author takes us on a tour of the underbelly of Chinatown. Detective Jack Yu has been reassigned to his old neighborhood, where cops are not to be trusted. Using the murder of a high-up gang member Uncle Four, the author paints a portrait of the various inhabitants of Chinatown from the gangsters to the shopkeepers to the fortune tellers. Yu fits in neither the cop world nor the world of Chinatown. His in between status makes him a great observer. I wouldn’t call this book fun, but rather intense and highly enjoyable.