Just finished Fidali's Way by George Mastras. Really good--fairly harrowing first novel about a lawyer who sold all his possessions and went backpacking around Pakistan (as Mastras himself did--he's a Yale grad who just dropped/sold everything and went on adventures for a while... after he came back he wrote the novel and started screenwriting; now he writes for Breaking Bad, and he wrote pretty much all the best episodes of the show, including the one that aired this past Sunday)... as the novel starts, his companion is found with her throat slashed open, and he's tortured by the Pakistani police, who think he did it. He escapes into the country with no ID or money and gets involved with the mujahedeen. It's sprawling and ambitious, sometimes messy, but very cool.
Also just finished Unpublished Novel Manuscript by a close friend. A first draft of a YA novel that I can't describe here, but it was excellent--fun, immersive, bizarre. It'll be out within two years, I think, and I'll write more about it when I can.
Reread Koko by Peter Straub. Nothing to say about this except that it's one of my formative novels. Loved it as a middle schooler, still love it today. Ugly, mad, sprawling, awesome. In some ways it makes me feel the same way Brand New Cherry Flavor (one of the great Hollywood novels ever written) did back when I read it last year.
I also, weirdly, reread Midnight Picnic. I tend not to reread my own books because there's always so much I would do differently. But enough time has passed since I wrote this that I can see it as a thing unto itself. And I liked it. If it were written by someone else and I'd never heard of it, I would like it; I would think, I haven't read that ghost story before. This part should have been cut and that part should have been explored more, etc etc, but overall it made me feel calm and peaceful and uneasy and fatalistic and sad all at once.
I have a stack:
Within Normal Limits by Todd Grimson
Aloha by Mark Christensen
The Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney by Christopher Higgs
Feed by M.T. Anderson
Another unpublished book by a friend
A TV script by a friend
The screenplay of Paul Thomas Anderson's next film