In this special series, we asked writers we admire to share a book they're giving to their friends and family this holiday season. Check back daily to see the books your favorite authors are gifting.
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The book I'm giving as a Christmas gift this year is The Stud Book by Monica Drake. As always, Drake is funny without resorting to shtick or snarkiness. And she's brilliant without hiding behind cleverness. Reading the novel, I wasn't constantly distracted by postmodern tricks and gimmicks. Drake's writing has the clarity and charm of Joyce Maynard's Baby Love or Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son.
The characters in The Stud Book are as conflicted and endearing as those of Junot Díaz and Nami Mun. Reading the book, you want everyone depicted in it to be real. You'll wish the 336 pages would stretch to 1,000 because you won't want to leave Drake's world where people get by skating along on good intentions and hope.
The book would be my choice for anyone, young or old, male or female. It even compares favorably to John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces. Anyone who enjoyed Dunces or Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City series will want to read The Stud Book and Drake's earlier novel, Clown Girl, because those books do for Portland what Toole and Maupin have done for New Orleans and San Francisco. Drake has turned her hometown into a place where you'll long to live, filled with characters you dream of having as friends.