May Books 8) How to Sharpen Pencils, by David Rees
I decided I really wanted this book after the ever-excellent Bookslut tipped me off to this interview with the author. It mostly succeeds; it is the story of a man going through intense emotional crisis and working it out by writing a book about pencil sharpening, except that almost everything apart from the pencil sharpening has been taken out. Rees is good at capturing the tone of how-to manuals, especially when describing really obvious and easy tasks. There are a couple of points when he wanders far off-topic and the humour did not work for me, even taking it as intentionally ironic. On the other hand, I loved the sequence about how best to help your friend use an electric pencil sharpener (by breaking into their house and smashing it). I suspect that most readers will dip into it rather than go through from start to end, and that may be best.