A fun change of pace from Richard Jury. Grimes takes us to New York, into the seamy, ridiculous underbelly of the publishing industry, ratcheting up tA fun change of pace from Richard Jury. Grimes takes us to New York, into the seamy, ridiculous underbelly of the publishing industry, ratcheting up the humor that's always a part of her work (but not as far as, say, Dave Barry or Carl Hiassen—but who knows what would happen if she set hers in Miami...). Not much to add except that this book has the best pair of hit men ever....more
Another good one from Alan Furst. A relief, as the previous opus in the series (as if I could remember the title...) seemed to much of a mish-mash. OnAnother good one from Alan Furst. A relief, as the previous opus in the series (as if I could remember the title...) seemed to much of a mish-mash. Once again we have all the rich, black-and-white atmosphere, this time of pre-war Poland and, of course, Paris. Our protagonist is the French military attaché in Warsaw, Colonel Mercier. ...more
My first Koontz, I think. Interesting, strange, some wonderful ideas, but I worry that it is a little precious underneath. I may need to read more toMy first Koontz, I think. Interesting, strange, some wonderful ideas, but I worry that it is a little precious underneath. I may need to read more to see if that tone of baffled wisdom is a habit that follows the author through all his books or a terrific invention for this fascinating protagonist, Odd Thomas.
That this is the forth book in the series can't help!...more
We had to read this in English 2 at Lick. It was a monster, a rite of passage. But dearly as I treasured the shared suffering of my classmates, I hadWe had to read this in English 2 at Lick. It was a monster, a rite of passage. But dearly as I treasured the shared suffering of my classmates, I had no idea how terrific this novel was until I re-read it after age 35.
Take your time, just bathe in the language, and don't even think about writing a paper on it. That's my advice....more
Finally Gibson writes one with the same level of imagination as Neuromancer, but this time with more attention to character. Cayce (pronounced Case) PFinally Gibson writes one with the same level of imagination as Neuromancer, but this time with more attention to character. Cayce (pronounced Case) Pollard is a terrific protagonist with a strange, life-defining affliction: she is allergic to branding. The Nike swoosh would make her nauseous. ...more
Once in a great while, the resonance of a book takes you by the collar and shakes you like a dog with a sock. This is one of those for me. Maybe it woOnce in a great while, the resonance of a book takes you by the collar and shakes you like a dog with a sock. This is one of those for me. Maybe it wouldn't have been this way a year ago or a month from now or if I had eaten differently this past week, but I just finished this book and I'm a wreck. It's hilarious. It's sad. And hardest of all for me right now, it's a mirror.
This business of the importance of who you are at the moment you read something (or see a movie, or listen to a song) interests me. But it's not just your mood—part of the job of the artist is to set that mood, after all, even though it's an imperfect craft—it's also bigger, as in, your time of life. I got a lot more out of reading Moby-Dick in my thirties than when it was assigned in my teens; and I think I got gobsmacked by this book partly because I'm over 50 and I'm a father. I bet if I'd read this right after the Melville, I'd have given it only four stars.
I'm also amazed by the craft of this thing. McMurtry's Duane is a good man, deeply introspective (though unused to it), acting at maximum capacity. How the author keeps these plates spinning is a thing of beauty. It should not be that interesting to be inside the head of a 60+ uneducated Texas oil-man who is trying to find himself, but I was breathless with wonder throughout. Maybe it's my own existential angst, but that can't be all of it. The guy can write the hell out of a character.
The blurb: One day Duane Moore decides he's tired of riding in his pickup and that he'll start walking. Everywhere. And the citizens of Thalia, Texas, especially his wife Karla, think he's off his rocker. You can get more of an idea of the book reading other reviews; what I haven't seen but thought as I read it is that this is a funnier, deeper, Texas revisiting of some of the themes of Rabbit Run and related to the escaping-mom novels of Anne Tyler. ...more
Yeah, Ludlum is a famous author. And I loved The Eiger Sanction when I read it as a teenager. I know it's gen
Nazis. I hate these guys. —Indiana Jones
Yeah, Ludlum is a famous author. And I loved The Eiger Sanction when I read it as a teenager. I know it's genre fiction, but I love a good escape, so I thought I'd give Robert Ludlum another try.
I suppose it's what it's supposed to be: fast-paced easy reading. But I was expecting more. It's not a total waste; it must have been a lot of work to put together that many pages. But come on, it's just not fair for a guy to get that rich for such basically mediocre writing and plotting. Let me kvetch about three things:
Mistakes. If you're making that much money, and getting that big an advance, you owe it to your readers to get the basics right. The publisher should be embarrassed at their own copyediting, but given that many publishers don't do squat, it falls to the author. And if your characters are jet-setting all over Europe and the Americas, (1) a lot of readers will have been there and (2) checking it out is tax-deductible! So there's no excuse. For example, a sign in a French police station reads DÉFENCE DE FUMER. Honestly. Such things erode our confidence and make us suspect all sorts of geographical, temporal, and linguistic laziness.
Brand-dropping. Many of the characters are obscenely rich. There is a fascination with these things, and great wealth gives characters a plausible excuse to have access to specialized knowledge and cool stuff like private jets. But please: we don't need to be told at every turn that character xyz has a beautifully-tailored gray pinstripe bespoke Savile Row suit, or a[n] Hermès scarf; or Volant Ti Super skis—none of which have any bearing on the plot except to tell us that the owner is tasteful and rich enough to afford it. In Legally Blonde, knowledge of clothes and accessories is part of the plot; when you do not reach the standard of that screenplay, you're in trouble.
Plot Grandiosity. I have complained about this before elsewhere. It's a bee in my bonnet. And of course all of these things are matters of taste. But one of the things that makes, say, John LeCarré's works so terrific is that what the spies spy about never really amounts to much. It's important to them, but the Earth never quite moves. Here, well, no spoilers, but the stakes are very high indeed. Ridiculously high. To give Ludlum credit, he does bring interesting moral dilemmas into play, but they get buried rather than resolved. ...more
Re-read 2008. Not part of the Smiley canon, yet another splendid character study where we readers get very anxious for the safety of our upstanding BrRe-read 2008. Not part of the Smiley canon, yet another splendid character study where we readers get very anxious for the safety of our upstanding British spy protagonists....more
Wow, an average rating over 4. I guess people have different tastes. Rothfuss gives us some interesting ideas about magic, but for me, the writing wasWow, an average rating over 4. I guess people have different tastes. Rothfuss gives us some interesting ideas about magic, but for me, the writing was weak, the voice bland. Also, although the form of the thing—basically, a novel within a short story—is unusual, that doesn't make it good. The amount of great ideas and gripping writing does not support the large page count.
Also, this is clearly, and irritatingly, the first of a series. And here's the thing: when you write a series, you're supposed to make each individual book stand on its own, at least after a fashion. Isn't that in the author-readoer contract? And this one is so egregiously not the whole story, it's irritating. It's really all exposition, showing us the hero growing up, trying to motivate everything that will come later. Explain all his neuroses, introduce us to the magic system, do the foreshadowing we need. That's all good, but I need some plot payoff, and I don't get it.
The biggest irritation: the writer's habit of saying, "if you've never [ been poor | been a musician | been whatever :]" then you won't understand..."...more
(Trying to be stingier with four-star ratings; Keri, it's your fault...) A fun mystery where the principal crime is not a mystery at all. In the first(Trying to be stingier with four-star ratings; Keri, it's your fault...) A fun mystery where the principal crime is not a mystery at all. In the first chapter, we're in the head of the murderer as he bashes in the victim's cranium and then has to deal with his predicament.
In this book, the mystery is the motive, and this depends on a secret deep in the past, alluded to several times during the narrative, and finally explained. I have written elsewhere (where was that?) about how when you have a big, book-controlling secret, the payoff of learning it had better be huge. Here, the payoff is not so great, but neither does this secret, the missing motive, really control the book. So I'm happy to recommend this book for a pleasant, rewarding read.
What makes it worthwhile for me is character and setting. We're in British Columbia's "Sunshine Coast" (not ironic) which to us ignorami from Baja Canada is up and to the left of Vancouver. Made me want to go visit. And the characters, though not as deep as, say, Arthur Raven in Reversible Errors, are enjoyable enough and multidimenional, especially our murderer, who, like his victim, is in his eighties. Our cop, a Mountie named Kurt Alberg has endearing qualities, but the other main character, a librarian, Cassandra Mitchell, has better dialog. I wish we knew more about her. ...more
Lovely writing, engaging character, and we learn about cricket. Nice observations and bits of philosophy about relationships, but I have to say it didLovely writing, engaging character, and we learn about cricket. Nice observations and bits of philosophy about relationships, but I have to say it didn't scream book award at me. What;s the plot? Hans, our hero, comes unmoored, and then later seems to get, well, partly moored. How big a deal is that, really? Perhaps the important thing in just the being there, as Meg has explained about Margaret Drabble: beautiful book in which nothing happens.
Also, the role of New York, so foreshadowed in the opening paragraphs, doesn't pay off. Sure, New York it there, but it's just not as important as the hype in the book. ...more
I'm fascinated by traffic, and the book mostly delivered the new insights and inside stories I was looking for. The main theme is human behavior. HowI'm fascinated by traffic, and the book mostly delivered the new insights and inside stories I was looking for. The main theme is human behavior. How do we act as automata? (Selfish.) How do we assess risk? (Irrationally.) One of the most interesting stories is about a Dutch town, where the traffic engineering genius removed all traffic signs. The result: a drop in accidents, and an omprovement in traffic throughput....more