Job Title: VP of Book Operations
Favorite book when you were a child: The Hobbit and yes I did have a passing familiarity with Elvish at one point. It’s not something I’m proud of but there it is.
Your top five authors: (take the following with a pinch of ‘at the moment’ and a dash of ‘subject to change’) Kurt Vonnegut – “See the cat? See the cradle?”. Joan Didion – I recently reread The White Album and Slouching towards Bethlehem - her choices are impeccable and she’s just so damn good at evoking a sense of time and place. Ernest Hemingway – Yeah, yeah, I know but…. Jorge Luis Borges – he can do more with a few pages than most can do with a few hundred. Susan Sontag – I finish one of her essays and whether or not I agree with what she’s saying I just feel a tiny bit smarter than I did before I started reading.
Book you've faked reading: I would never! (And if I ever had I sure as heck wouldn’t be advertising the fact here)
Book you are an evangelist for: The Iron Will of Shoeshine Cats by Hesh Kestin from Dzanc Books– think of a cross between The Graduate and The Godfather, think about how cool that could be, this is better.
Favorite line from a book: “Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter can be said to remedy anything” - Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle.
Book you'd take with you to a desert island: Thriving on a Desert Island: Tips for Living Off the Land While Building a Raft with Your Bare Hands, is that a book that exists?  If so that’s the one I’m taking with me on the trip.
Song that has played the most on your MP3 player: I’ve got almost 10,000 songs on my IPod and more often than not I just let it play on ‘shuffle’ but I just checked and right now it’s listing “On Green Dolphin Street” from Miles Davis’ late 50s sextet. The song has a gorgeous, languid intro and great solos from John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly, Bill Evans and Davis himself; definitely a favorite so let’s go with that one.
Best way to spend a weekend: With friends and family.
Your go-to pick for movie night: I don’t know, depends on how I’m feeling; Big Lebowski? GoodFellas? Hot Fuzz? Sideways? Pulp Fiction?
Window or Aisle: Aisle, I’m willing to put up with the occasional bump from the cart as long as I can get up and stretch my legs without having to climb over people (I’ve got back issues).
What is the first giveaway that a book is going to be good: It’s a combination of the quality of the prose and the acuity of the author’s ‘vision’ (for lack of a better term). Within the first few paragraphs you can already tell a ton about where a book is going and how it’s going to get there or at the very least you can tell if you’re in good hands.
Best TV or Movie adaptation of a book: you kind of have to say The Godfather don’t you? I mean have you read the thing? It’s a schlocky mass market crime novel and the film is well, you know, it’s “The Godfather”.
Website you have spent the most time reading: wait, reading? Oh, then I guess Grantland, or maybe The Nervous Breakdown, or, (believe it or not) Cracked.com.

Matt's Recent Reviews

Penguin is releasing Thomas Ligotti’s first two collections of short stories in one volume. This is a good thing. You probably don’t know and maybe have never heard of this guy but he makes Stephen King look like Mother Goose and Clive Barker look like Doctor Seuss. If you like horror or weird fiction congratulations, start here.
 
 
 
 
Back in the 90s I had this friend who was a huge comic book geek who persuaded me to read this series called The Sandman written by some guy called Neil Gaiman. At first I resisted (a comic book? I was in my 30s, not prime demo for comics and anyway…) but eventually I wore down under the pressure of his repeated proselytization. Turns out my friend was right, this wasn’t guys in tights swinging from high rise to high rise or floating in the air touting clever jibes and blasting each other with laser beams. This was something uncomfortably close to art. The expressionistic paintings of Dave McKean were like nothing you’d expect in a pulpy comic and the stories? Just amazing, evocative, lyric, er um dream like(?). I was hooked and still am. I came across a book called Neverwhere not long after and will never look at subways, London, London subways, or quite really anything in the same way again. And the books kept coming: Good Omens (w/ Terry Pratchett), Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, Anansi Boys, The Graveyard Book amongst them and I kept reading, gladly.
You see Gaiman has this voice, charming and humane but creepy, occasionally whimsical but capable also of evoking real dread; and when he gets dark all the effects amplify because you have been charmed and cozened.
That voice is central to his new book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. The set-up is fairly straightforward; the narrator returns home to rural Sussex after several decades away. There to eulogize at a funeral he finds himself with a bit a free time so he drives around his old neighborhood. He comes upon a somehow familiar farmhouse. And there he begins to remember.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a book filled with strangeness and charm; its sole flaw by my lights is that it is over far too soon.

Read all of Matt's reviews

The UnwindingGeorge Packer
Joseph AntonSalman Rushdie
Beautiful RuinsJess Walter
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime WalkBen Fountain
ArguablyChristopher Hitchens
The Sisters BrothersPatrick deWitt
West of Here Jonathan Evison
Stories for Nighttime and Some for the DayBen Loory
AftershockRobert B. Reich
Packing for MarsMary Roach
Last WordsGeorge Carlin, Tony Hendra
SpoonerPete Dexter
AdlandJames P. Othmer
Manhood for AmateursMichael Chabon
The Iron Will of Shoeshine CatsHesh Kestin
Lush LifeRichard Price
American CreationJoseph J. Ellis
All About LuluJonathan Evison
After DarkHaruki Murakami
The Yiddish Policemen's UnionMichael Chabon
EuropeanaPatrik Ourednik
The Armies of the NightNorman Mailer
Music for ChameleonsTruman Capote