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BoD: House of Thieves

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There’s a new feature we’re going to run here at Slushpile. We’ll highlight a Book of the Day and try to introduce you to some good books, some overlooked books, and some weird books that catch our attention. For the time being, I’m going to denote these posts with the acronym BoD, which is unfortunate, but it’s the best I can think of right now. If someone’s got a more hip way of denoting the Book of the Day, lemme know.

I had never heard of our inaugural Book of the Day. Luckily, a fantastic publicist at Penguin turned me on to a great book called House of Thieves by Kaui Hart Hemmings. I read a lot and, quite frankly, often you get in a rut where you’re just processing words on the page. Sometimes that’s a result of you, the reader, being tired or disinterested. Sometimes that’s a result of homogenous and boring writing. But when you discover something truly noteworthy, the excitement runs through your body and you can’t wait to tell people about it. This collection of short stories is like that, a jolt that woke me up from a stupor one night, after I had already swallowed a novel and a few stories of a different collection. This book makes me want to get back to work on my own stories, humbled by Hemmings’s skill and invigorated by what she’s accomplished.

Set in Hawaii, the collection initially caught my attention by reminding me of my own years on Oahu. A testament to Hemmings’s skill is that she doesn’t beat you over the head with the exotic locale. To her characters, the island is just where they live, nothing more. Less skilled authors frequently pour on the local color and the slang, pounding on you like a crashing wave on Makapu until you scream that you’re pau and you beg the writer to let up (See, just like that heavy-handed phrase) but Hemmings weaves the Hawaiian culture in seamlessly without attracting undue attention.

Publishers Weekly said that “overall these are fresh, acerbic tales, offering a distinctive perspective on everyday life in a vacation paradise” and I think you’ll agree.

Check out House of Thieves here.