More great stuff from Featherproof Press, and once again I have to comment on the book design. The Karaoke Singer’s Guide to Self Defense looks, on the surface, like the kind of book you’d find left in a rental home — something published in the early eighties and left behind at the shore or by a lake and read (at least in part) or otherwise used by dozens and dozens of casual passers-by. Even the spine looks threadbare and well-thumbed. And appropriately so, because this book is about the used and the threadbare, not to mention the well-thumbed. Throughout the novel, author Tim Kinsella takes us down the dark rabbit holes of his protagonists’ desperate lives: a father embarrassed to the point of aggression at his son’s performance on the football field, a son’s questionable participation in his mother’s death, and a daughter trying to sort through the remains of her mother’s life are just some of the struggling, ambivalent creatures Kinsella offers. His prose is lyrical in a sardonic kind of way, lending the novel the air of George Saunders short story, while the sweeping scope and emotional depth of Kinsella’s work is reminiscent of John Irving. It’s the perfect book to read over the course of a rainy vacation and then leave behind for someone else to discover.
-Review by Marc Schuster