Sunday, January 23, 2011

Shawn Goodman

Shawn Goodman is a writer and school psychologist. His experiences working in several New York State juvenile detention facilities inspired his debut novel, Something Like Hope. He has been an outspoken advocate for juvenile justice reform, and has written and lectured on issues related to special education, foster care, and literacy. Goodman lives in Ithaca, New York, with his wife and children.

Earlier this month I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I am in the middle of what might be my favorite read of the year: Soon I Will Be Invincible, by Austin Grossman. This book is so intelligent and fun that I can't stop pushing it on people. It's your basic superhero storyline, but it's perfectly wrapped in pulpy comic book cliches, and told from the alternating points of view of Dr. Impossible, the world's leading supervillain, and Fatale, a six-foot-three cybernetically enhanced woman with serious self-esteem issues.

What sets this book apart is Grossman's love of the genre: he revels in every aspect of it - from the costumes, invented names, and origin stories, to the inevitable quirks and flaws that accompany life with superpowers. The characters are entirely real and believable, even when they are invincible, half-crazy, or ridiculous. Like the scene where Dr. Impossible guides us through the sad underworld of supervillainy where losers, freaks, and mad geniuses get together at an abandoned shopping mall for their approximation of social contact. After walking four miles, and changing into his costume in the bushes, his villain colleagues ignore him, and he is bullied by Kosmic Klaw, a slow-witted Ukrainian Mercenary who wears a suit of armor from a wrecked spaceship.

The basic story is familiar, but it's a fresh take, and the writing is terrific. It might be the perfect book to entertain and distract from the cold and gloom of January.
Visit Shawn Goodman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue