I just re-read this real-life thriller (March 2008) to my girlfriend (and goodreads 'friend' lol) Yulia. We share several books this way and this one...moreI just re-read this real-life thriller (March 2008) to my girlfriend (and goodreads 'friend' lol) Yulia. We share several books this way and this one was truly like picking up an old friend. This book was widely read in Great Britain (Sir Ranulph Feinnes) homeland. As you may or may not know he's a nut-job "this'll be the death of me surely" adventurer who's been to both poles, attempted to scale Everest, competed in 7 straight marathons around the globe for charity and served Her Majesty as an SAS (special forces) hero. Oh yeah, on one of his trips to the Antarctic he had to pull his sled out of the ice water and refused to have his badly frostbitten fingers amputated, choosing to hit them with a band saw at home later, after he came to terms with the fact that the necrotic flesh wasn't coming back. Anyway...
I guess there's some question as to the authenticity of the book after my online research, but to me it matters not a bit. What a great read... perhaps a bit choppy in parts but a strong non-fiction narrative blending tremendous guile and bravado with some fairly strong literary chops and beaucoup de velocite... I have no frickin' idea if that's pig latin let alone properly spelled French.
I'm amazed this book hasn't been turned into a movie since its publication in 91 GB and 92 US. I remember grabbing it off the "take me home" shelves of some crap publisher I was temping for - reading Beverly Cleary's mail and recommending the particularly heart-felt ones to send on to her. Which is odd really because she's more than a bit prickly regarding people in general... especially kids, for a children's book legend. She liked me because I didn't kiss her royalty ass me thinks. Speaking of royalty, she could pass for the Queen's doppelganger.
Back to the bloody book. Read it, enjoy it. Vigilantes chasing assassins who kill through nearly undetectable means - what more could you want?(less)
**spoiler alert** The singly most promising and disappointing book I've ever read. Fraught with genius and absolute failure. The episodic serial scrip...more**spoiler alert** The singly most promising and disappointing book I've ever read. Fraught with genius and absolute failure. The episodic serial scripts which comprise every other chapter are astounding in their creativity and execution. When Mr. Llosa tries to render a real(and semi-autobiographical) relationship with his Aunt Julia his skills crumble into sophomoric platitudes that reveal his inability to actually love a woman romantically (whether it be in his own life or as a writer.)
There are so many laugh-out-loud moments peppered throughout his radio scripts but the intervening chapters with aunt Julia lack any depth of character - not only his but his friends, family and particularly any women.
I suppose I should have seen it coming (Spoiler Warning) when he tosses the character of Aunt Julia away like so much garbage in his final chapter, instead concentrating on his heroic writing pursuits... what a bunch of boring, self-serving bullshit that flies in the face of his overall tapestry - bringing some kind of deus ex machina memoir from hell onto the page in defense of what... his life, his art?
It's astonishing an editor didn't slap the man for this onanist salute to himself (the final chapter). If I could reach through the pages, I would have done so myself as not only does he reveal his narcissism that had robbed the chapters supposedly dealing with "real people" in his life of pith or vitality, but he shows his misogynistic bent through several "where the hell did that come from" lines... again all in the final, anti-climactic chapter.
The man does not like women and has no place writing about them. However the book is also one of the most creative and ingeniously plotted books you're likely to read (until the final chapter - which I recommend ripping from the binding and recycling like a responsible Earth citizen.
Were this book an unfinished work... one chapter short, it would have gone down as one of the classics... instead his final volley only served to reveal the failings of the artist and the man.
Wonderful characterizations of middle aged sisters but falls apart with that damn creature bullshit. The plot loses it's legs, just when I thought fin...moreWonderful characterizations of middle aged sisters but falls apart with that damn creature bullshit. The plot loses it's legs, just when I thought finally: an editor's reeled him in... and he brings in the piebald fucking dog. Stick to the characters we can believe, trust your ability to make us care and forget about piebald shit.(less)
Eloquent, moving. Perhaps formulaic after awhile but I didn't care. This is a quick, worthwhile read. Read it too long ago to be of much more help, so...moreEloquent, moving. Perhaps formulaic after awhile but I didn't care. This is a quick, worthwhile read. Read it too long ago to be of much more help, sorry. But it's a classic(less)
Didn't love this book. But didn't put it down either. Total departure from Being There. I have yet to read Painted Bird, so we'll see how that goes. C...moreDidn't love this book. But didn't put it down either. Total departure from Being There. I have yet to read Painted Bird, so we'll see how that goes. Can't remember specifics, but I finished it so it must have had something.(less)
Fantastic read. Wish I could be more specific. Pick up this book; you won't be disappointed. Wholly original and unique and delivered with tight craft...moreFantastic read. Wish I could be more specific. Pick up this book; you won't be disappointed. Wholly original and unique and delivered with tight craftsmenship - that i know.(less)
I loved the start of this book until the religious overtones smacked me in the head like Jesus' rotting fish. It quickly deteriorated after a promisin...moreI loved the start of this book until the religious overtones smacked me in the head like Jesus' rotting fish. It quickly deteriorated after a promising start into a sermon at which point i put it down.... probably deserves one star. Unfortunately I recommended it to my mom before it got ugly - about 40 pages in maybe. She was as pissed as I was. Note to self: save recommendations until you actually read the bloody book in its entirety. Fie on this book. I'm taking off a star... it's a one star wonder. Feel free to disagree.(less)
I should have reviewed this after reading it, but alas, I did not. I remember it slowed to a halt when he went off into the hinterlands and lived off...moreI should have reviewed this after reading it, but alas, I did not. I remember it slowed to a halt when he went off into the hinterlands and lived off roots or some bloody thing. The book was tremendous when it was on, but failed pretty hideously when it was off, that I remember. There were some 5 star moments, but many wayward, inexplicable turning points or unnecessary tidying-ups as it were. I wish I could remember more. It's worth reading and may have garnered 4 stars if I'd reviewed it in time, but as time's passed my memories sneak back to the flaws, not the brilliance unfortunately. I do recommend it as a read however... let me know if I'm even close to the mark.
John Le Carre spins a wonderfully spare prose that defies "thriller", "espionage" or "mystery" categorization. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold is a...moreJohn Le Carre spins a wonderfully spare prose that defies "thriller", "espionage" or "mystery" categorization. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold is a taut read that drives naturally from the engine of Le Carre's literary might rather than pushing from the caboose with some of the over-plotting, vapid characterization and inordinately detailed architectural drivel that permeate a wide range of "thriller / mystery" books... which is why this book should be considered a work of literature. Not that the term means anything in particular anymore as it's dropped on some of the most abominable creations, but it deserves the label nonetheless.
There's but one passage of dialogue near the end where our protagonist defends his country's actions in the face of Communism where you feel an editor could have cracked the whip. It felt more than a bit lecture-like and overtly explanatory... you'll know it when you reach it. But hey, I usually sense a lack of editorial oversight on just about every other page or so with most reads... I'm a picky bastard. That's why I'm giving this 5 stars.
One of the few books carrying enough literary heft and velocity to support the "masterpiece" moniker. Succumbing to a slight lull around the halfway m...moreOne of the few books carrying enough literary heft and velocity to support the "masterpiece" moniker. Succumbing to a slight lull around the halfway mark, the gripping last 50 pages more than make up for it, providing one of the most memorable endings I can recall in literature - because to consider this book anything else is to do it a grave injustice.
The spare "everything you need to know - nothing unnecessary" prose is a refreshing breath of fresh air when paired against the favored literati Great Britain now chooses to bestow "Booker Award" status upon... Kiran Desai (diarrhea of the pen), John Banville (shit on a page) Anne Enright (If you can get through the first paragraph you're on better medication than I).
John Burdett is not a great writer to be sure... but an engaging one. You feel he's pushing you through his roller coasters instead of taking you alon...moreJohn Burdett is not a great writer to be sure... but an engaging one. You feel he's pushing you through his roller coasters instead of taking you along for the ride. The dialogue is catastrophically didactic and screams for an Editor with steel toed shit-kicker to tattoo John's arse. The damn thing is, I enjoy these reads anyway. Burdett's a strong plotter and doesn't go for the conventional neatly wrapped endings of your average thriller / mystery.
His FBI character Kimberly is poorly developed and superfluous until further notice. Sanchai, our lead detective is half travel guide, half Buddhism for Dummies puppet and lovable all the same... until he's not... but for whatever reason I love him anyway. I'll be reading every book in this series despite the obvious flaws. These books are guilty over-written pleasures that make me yearn for a trip to Thailand. (less)
This claptrap pile of PC bullshit was built for Oprah's Book Snub. Sainted mothers come in black and white; issues of race and grief receive a sponge-...moreThis claptrap pile of PC bullshit was built for Oprah's Book Snub. Sainted mothers come in black and white; issues of race and grief receive a sponge-over paint job that would make Bob Ross' happy little tree's wilt and die. Matchstick characters are globbed together with gooey dialogue that spills from their cardboard souls.
Everybody's so goddamned pious, righteous and waxen that you pray for an axe-wielding murderer to crop up and start hacking the shit out of these uber-annoying stick figures and their politically correct lives. To call these things characters would imply that they had some.
Aside from Truth and Beauty, I would stay away from anything written by Ann Patchett. She's more catholic than Tom Clancy if that's possible... and so out of tune with her own sexuality that it's painful to read her desperate attempts at inking passion or love... beyond some over-simplified, idealized tripe weighted with lazy Christian morality and a despicable PC'ness that permeates your being like a sniff of ammonia and feels as natural as a hospital corner bed sheet cramping your big toe.