The Bad Seed was written in the 1950's and was considered to be a very "different" kind of book. It deals with issues of nature vs. nurture and was crThe Bad Seed was written in the 1950's and was considered to be a very "different" kind of book. It deals with issues of nature vs. nurture and was criticized for its stance on the nature side of the issue. If you just accept this premise (it's a work of fiction), the book will be much more enjoyable.
The ensemble of characters work well together & are all creepy in their own ways. The plot rules this book, so be prepared to not care about them so much. The reader gets to see inside the mind of the devious janitor, Leroy, the most. This just adds to the foreboding atmosphere of the story. The pacing of the book is steady, but not slow by any means.
The tone of the book sets it up like a "Leave it to Beaver" neighborhood placed in the middle of "The Twilight Zone." Highly entertaining, kind of nostalgic, but certainly not for everyone.
A Rage in Harlem is the first book in Chester Hime's Coffin Ed Johnson & Grave Digger Jones series. Surprisingly, the 2 detectives are minor charaA Rage in Harlem is the first book in Chester Hime's Coffin Ed Johnson & Grave Digger Jones series. Surprisingly, the 2 detectives are minor characters, but their "stage presence," so to speak, is immediate and impressionable. They are the only black detectives working 1960's Harlem and their reputations precede them wherever they go. Even the toughest hoodlums & con men shrink and shiver in their midst.
This book focuses on simple, honest, hard-working man, Jackson, who is conned out of his money in the first chapter. The con men are supposedly from the South and have recently started this game with newfound gold. Jackson is in love with Imabelle, who is working for the con men...or is she? Jackson recruits his bother, Goldie, a heroin junkie who dresses up like a nun to make some dough, to get his money and his woman back. Not only is Jackson's employer, H. Exodus Clay after him & Goldie, but add the con men & Johnson & Jones to the mix, and you've got one heck of an entertaining story.
I would say the appeal of this book lies in the fast-pacing and relentless action/mayhem that unfolds in 1960's Harlem. The atmosphere is gritty and dirty. The language is bold and colorful, complete with lingo and dialect from the times.
All the books in the series (8 in all) are slim - coming in at around 160 pages. Reader beware: they become highly addictive and some are hard to find.
Himes was a Civil Rights activist, so the inequalities between blacks & whites at this time does come up occasionally, but the book would not be complete without addressing these issues at this time and in this city. This element adds more depth. Himes has been compared to Raymond Chandler. Also of note: Himes grew up in Cleveland.
This slim (160 pages) volume will appeal to the younger crowd & fans of Guy Ritchie movies (Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch). The paThis slim (160 pages) volume will appeal to the younger crowd & fans of Guy Ritchie movies (Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch). The pacing is pretty quick, but the real draw is the characters. Charlie Mortdecai is a booze-swilling "art dealer" of questionable principles. In spite of, or because of, he is an endearing character. Jock is his thug/butler. Although Jock is simple-minded, he is loyal to Mister Charlie, and the affection between the men is mutual.
Nothing goes right or smooth for either of these two, who attempt to pull off an art caper of epic proportions. It's like Thomas Crown Affair with madcap hijinks. The action takes a backseat to Charlie's caustic wit, though. The atmosphere is light, meaning that even though these two often get into trouble, there is really no need to worry about their pulling out of it in one piece. Bruised and bloody, maybe, but alive nonetheless.
Written 30 years ago, the book translates very well - it could take place today. The Mortdecai trilogy has been compared to the mysteries of P.G. Wodehouse. Maybe if Wodehouse used language inappropriate in polite society and drank whiskey for breakfast.
This book takes place in the Southwest near the U.S. border with Mexico.
The action is non-stop and works with 3 different points of view. The narratiThis book takes place in the Southwest near the U.S. border with Mexico.
The action is non-stop and works with 3 different points of view. The narration switches between Llewyllen Moss (an everyman who finds a drug deal gone horribly gone and then comes into possession of a fortune), Anton Chigur (a cold-blooded assassin who is hunting Moss), and Sherriff Bell (who is looking to protect Moss and solve the bloody case). The story wanders in and out of the United States and Mexico - always following the stolen money. But how?
Chigur is one of the most evil characters I have come across in fiction. Many of the characters are not sympathetic, but Sheriff Bell's inner monologues make him the most likable character. If you look close, you can even find commentary on American society, which is a nice breather from the suspense of the money chase going on between Moss & Chigur.
One must first get used to McCarthy's style, meaning that he does not use many punctuation marks - quotations in particular. This method can get confusing at times, so just beware.
Movie mirrors the book almost to a "T". Book provides a little more information, as to what exactly happens at the end, whereas the movie leaves the resolution wide open....more
This is the first of the series about Dr. Professor Moritz von Igelfeld, a Romance language professor in Germany whose concentration is Portugese. HeThis is the first of the series about Dr. Professor Moritz von Igelfeld, a Romance language professor in Germany whose concentration is Portugese. He thinks a lot of himself since he wrote the definitive book outlining Portugese Irregular Verbs. Unfortunately, not anyone else in the entire world shares his enthusiasm about this subject.
Von Igelfeld reminds me of the Mr. Bean character, a buffoon with an out-sized opinion of himself. Von Igelfeld sees himself as a martyr in many situations, as he sees others advance or gain recognition. He is often oblivious to the way in which others perceive him. One must see the humor in these type of situations to enjoy the various comical, and sometimes uncomfortable, aspects of them.
The book is slim and consists of 9 essentially short stories, or episodes. The content is essentially non-offensive, unless you have a thing against extremely pompous people. Other two books in this series are: The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs & At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances. All share similar characteristics and are equally enjoyable....more
Shoeless Joe is a clever work that blends factual characters with elements of fantasy in an imaginative and compelling way . The Kevin Costner classicShoeless Joe is a clever work that blends factual characters with elements of fantasy in an imaginative and compelling way . The Kevin Costner classic movie Field of Dreams is based on this novel, with a few variations. For those who have not seen the movie, Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella hears a whispering voice in the cornfields, “If you build it, he will come.” Thus begins an adventure in which Ray tracks down reclusive author J.D. Salinger, as well as former baseball players, in his quest to follow the mysterious clues he has been given. As to what Ray is following he does not know, he is just following his intuition and maintains hope in the voice, even as his farm falls into foreclosure as his loving wife and daughter stand by him. Soon after building the field, baseball players of old appear out of the cornfield, including the great Shoeless Joe, as well as Ray’s father, in a younger life, and begin to play pick-up games. The catch is that only certain people can see the players. This is a book that really touches on so many issues, hope, faith, family, baseball. If there is one fault with the book, it is that the story can get lost here and there while trying to cover so many aspects. It is written in a descriptive manner that draws you into Ray’s quest wholeheartedly, but the descriptions don’t go so in depth to bore the reader. There are twists and turns along the way, the characters are well developed, and the vivid descriptions really make you feel as if you are at Fenway Park or watching the pick-up games in the cornfield. It’s a tough book to categorize, and although baseball fans may get the most out of it, I would recommend it to anyone looking for an unusual adventure. ...more
David Alan Grier might be best known as a cast member of a little indie television show called "In Living Color," but don't expect to get any backgrouDavid Alan Grier might be best known as a cast member of a little indie television show called "In Living Color," but don't expect to get any background or dirt on the show from this book. Grier focuses his attention on aspects of the Barack Obama campaign and election, most specifically on obtaining tickets to the inauguration and attending the swearing-in ceremony.
I think this book could hold a lot of meaning for some people, as he describes why the election of an African-American to the highest office in America would mean so much to him and his family. Interspersed with the "present-day saga" of getting tickets to Obama's inauguration are personal stories Grier shares from throughout his & his family's lives. This is where the strength of the book lies. He tells an unforgettable story about his grandmother at the height of discrimination, in which she is neglected in the storage hold of a bus. He tells of how his mother drove him to see JFK before the school day started. He also divulges his love for Jimi Hendrix. These stories are funny and sometimes heart-breaking.
Unless you are a big fan of the show "Dancing with the Stars" or of David Alan Grier, you can probably skip these last two chapters that focus on his experience with that show. I don't read that many biographies, but this one was accessible and written in a casual style that makes you feel like you're Grier's confidant....more
The Emperor of Ocean Park is told from the viewpoint of Talcott Garland. He is an Ivy League law professor; his wife is working towards Partner in herThe Emperor of Ocean Park is told from the viewpoint of Talcott Garland. He is an Ivy League law professor; his wife is working towards Partner in her prestigious law firm; his father was nominated to be a Supreme Court judge, but then something happened...but what? This is at the heart of the mystery in this book.
At opening, the reader is introduced to the characters at Judge Garland's funeral. Was it murder or accidental suicide? You won't find out until the end of the 650 pages, but to me, it only felt to be about 500 pages. The author uses chess terms, moves and strategies to unfold the mystery. I liked this device even though I am not a chess player, so the reader might gain further fulfillment by brushing up on chess terms.
The appeal of the book lies in the atmosphere that Carter creates as seen from the upper crust of society that can afford to vacation regularly at Martha's Vineyard. Another appeal factor can be traced to the personality of Talcott, as the reader is invited to ruminate over his every thought. The inner workings of Talcott's mind can be quite meticulous at times. Talcott is alone in solving the mystery and at times, it seems that his friends have turned into enemies. All this, and his wife is threatening divorce. Yes, there are numerous sub-plots to the main plot, but it requires little effort to keep them straight.
The Emperor of Ocean Park is similar to Grisham in that the main character is a regular, unassuming guy who gets caught up in circumstances he did not ask to be in, but out of a sense of duty, he sees the job through to the end. Afterall, he is digging to the bottom of a mystery concerning his father and his family's honor. To say all Grisham fans would like this selection would be quite a stretch, but for those looking for substance with their mystery would do well to pick this one up....more
The first line reads: "The day broke gray and dull. The clouds hung heavily, and there was a rawness in the air that suggested snow." If the descriptiThe first line reads: "The day broke gray and dull. The clouds hung heavily, and there was a rawness in the air that suggested snow." If the description sounds bleak now, it will only get bleaker. This is a tale of heartbreak and hardship in excruciating detail.
The plot focuses on the character, Philip, from childhood to middle age. Maugham describes the minutiae that occurs in Philip's thoughts. He's really not that bad of a guy. Philip is born with a clubfoot, for which he is mercilessly teased, taunted, and tortured for at his school. Through it all, though, he becomes a doctor and marries the woman he is blindly in love with. Sounds fine, but she detests him. And so it goes. Philip manages to maintain a positive attitude throughout the diversity he faces, but if he didn't, he might lose his sanity on top of everything else.
As you may have guessed, this is a slow read, but a satisfying one. The general reader will probably not appreciate this book, but fans of other classic writers of tragedy, or serious contemporary British authors will: think Thomas Hardy, Alexandre Dumas (Count of Monte Cristo), or John Banville....more
If you think this is the sweet story you saw in the movie with Robert Redford, complete with the overdramatic happy ending, you are in for a shock. InIf you think this is the sweet story you saw in the movie with Robert Redford, complete with the overdramatic happy ending, you are in for a shock. In this dark tale, Roy Hobbs' baseball career is cut short by a crazed fan. Years later he has a second chance and easily shoots to the top of the majors with his skills. Along the way, Hobbs falls for the manager's niece, Memo, who is still in love with Hobbs' now deceased team rival, Bump Bailey; has a romantic fling with the past-her-prime fan Iris Lemon; and is enticed to throw the last game of the season by the owner of his team, the Judge, and the owner's friend, bookie Gus Sands. Hobbs has a huge chip on his shoulder, and the reader waits to see if he can overcome this to become the big hero of the story and redeem himself. Loaded with great characters and some events based in reality, the rich storytelling that showcases Hobbs thoughts makes this a great read. Not a long book in pages, just 248, there's much bubbling beneath the surface for the reader to mull over....more