RARA-AVIS: Like A Hole in the Head by Jen Banbury

From: Victoria Two ( msvictoriatwo@yahoo.com)
Date: 19 Feb 2008

I started out hating Like a Hole in the Head. The book store clerk lies when it would be easier to tell the truth and is rude in language and deed. I was on the verge of quitting after a few pages when I decided to continue a little in order to see more of the structure, and because I know to trust the titles reviewed here. Somewhere I got hooked and wanted to know what would happen next. This is a book difficult to like and then really interesting.

Karin Montin < kmontin@sympatico.ca> wrote:
  I really enjoyed Jen Banbury's Like a Hole in the Head. Check the archives (easy to search, lots to find) for some conflicting opinions. She is apparently a freelance journalist for NPR, Salon.com and others, and still doesn't seem to have published another book.

This is what I wrote in July 2001:

A couple of months ago I came across Like a Hole in the Head, by Jen Banbury. The back cover blurbs compare her to Hammett (George Pelecanos delivers a rave review). She does not seem to have written another novel yet.

The protagonist is a clerk in a used-book store, and one day a strange dwarf sells her a rare Jack London first edition. Trouble starts when he wants it back and she doesn't have it anymore. A rather picaresque adventure ensues, as she stays up for days on end drinking nothing but booze and coffee, eating nothing but odd bits of candy and other junk. The cast of characters is interesting and the tone is humourously hardbitten. Motorcycles, cars, even guns, against the backdrop of the second-hand/antiquarian book trade and the movie industry. Reminiscent of the "bookman" books, but only to a degree. I liked this one better. I thought it was great, although the ending was a little murky for me.

At 02:36 PM 24/04/2007 +0000, "Willow Arune" pangarun@telus.net wrote:

>As a book collector, I really get a kick out of the five Janeway titles by John Dunning. John has a rather negative opinion of signed first editions, which comes out in "Sign of the Book". Also as a result, he signs (or did, before his stroke) just about every book! One collector quipped that it was getting difficult to find a first edition that John had not signed, so the unsigned books should have a higher value.
>And there is Bernie Rhodenbarr, the burglar of Lawrence Block.
>There seem to be a number of other book dealers who are part time detectives, but having samples some I had to pass.
>Are there any other book dealer detectives out there? Librarians?

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