Falling Up the Stairs

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I can recommend you buy this book using the link at right (no, your right), because the author, James Lileks, is a good guy, a fine writer, and amply deserves whatever slice of the low, low $2.99-for-Kindle price Amazon cuts him.

But I can't, unfortunately, recommend that you actually read it. Sorry. He's a fine writer now. Back in the 80s, when the book was written, not so much. (And there are other problems, see below.)

It starts out promising: protagonist Jonathan Simpson is a society reporter for a dinky local newspaper in Valhalla, Minnesota, the Lacs Standard. He is visited by Trygve, the servant employed by his rich Aunt Marvel from Minneapolis. Or, rather, his late Aunt Marvel, who has perished from—literally—falling up the stairs. (Involving getting her foot caught in the stair lift while simultaneously punching the "up" button.)

"I hope she, ah, died quickly."

"Not at first. But eventually, yes, she did."

Funny! Unfortunately, that's pretty close to the beginning of the book, and it's downhill from there. Simpson inherits his Aunt's mansion, and (not quite coincidentally) submits a column to the Lacs Standard slandering a good part of the community of Valhalla. So it's off to Minneapolis, where he runs into a dark conspiracy run by the Alimentary Information League, a radical group demanding an end to processed foods; their tactics involve mass poisoning. He also runs into a bunch of women, most of whom he manages to sleep with. I couldn't care enough about them to keep them straight. The tone gets uneven, the hero gets whiny and irritating, and the whole thing just drags on way too long.

The other problem is that the Kindlizing of the print edition did not go well. There are typos galore, and the paragraphs are consistently messed up so badly that it's often difficult to tell who's saying what. Even for $2.99, it's tough to tolerate.

Last Modified 2024-01-28 12:53 AM EDT