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

From: Joy Matkowski (
Date: 19 Feb 2008

Karin, you must be the one who told me about this book. It's odd and unique, the protagonist is a conscientious, courageous flake, and I liked it very much.
     I never cared for the bookman books. Joy

Victoria Two
>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
> Karin Montin <> 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, 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.

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