Thursday, April 01, 2010

The Sheriff of Yrnameer by Michael Rubens

The Sheriff of Yrnameer
by Michael Rubens
(Pantheon, August 2009)

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In a bit of a cheat today (come on, I've got to get outside in the sun!), I'm pasting this review in its entirety from an email I sent to a colleague in the book industry. I read it more or less concurrently with Old Mr. Flood, and it provided an entirely different set of pleasures.

I read The Sheriff of Yrnameer on my lunch break at the bookstore over the course of several weeks. To be honest, I picked it up because I eat lunch in the back room with the galleys, and it had that funny name and a brightly-colored cover. Lucky me that I picked up the one book from the piles likely to keep me enthralled in small doses for so long (and sometimes the lunch break ran long if I was at a particularly exciting bit.)

The Sheriff of Yrnameer reads like The Magnificent Seven as written by Douglas Adams, with Han Solo as the hero. It punches all the right buttons for a space opera / romantic comedy / postmodern sitcom / satire on commercial culture. The recurring gags become like inside
jokes with old friends, and the ending, though I expected it to be enjoyably predictable, was genuinely (and enjoyably) surprising. It also shares with my favorite book of last year, The Gone-Away World, an underlying critique of inter-galactic corporations that is pleasantly affirming to a small indie business owner.

Though I did once or twice rue the wisdom of reading it while eating (some lunches are not made to go with descriptions of insectile bounty hunters), I was thoroughly delighted to make such a discovery: a book both warm-hearted and irreverent, morally high-minded but not above the appeal of the gross-out, silly and sexy and secretly serious all at once. And the author is a Brooklynite -- of course. I can't wait for the paperback (which comes out in August of this year) so I can handsell the heck out of it to everyone who asks "Don't you have any FUNNY books? With a happy ending?"