Thursday, July 30, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I became a big fan of Samuel R. Delany last year and keep an eye out for his work. This one was the first one I nabbed from the book-swapping site www.paperbackswap.com (an improvement over BookCrossing, I think, which I used to call "Book Throwing Away Club"). I swallowed this in a single gulp on a long afternoon on the beach in Traverse City, Michigan.
The Ballad of Beta-2 is an early work and, although interesting, not as fully ripened with the wild imagination of some of his later novels such as Nova and Babel-17. In fact, its brief page count means big chunks of exposition are dealt with rather briskly.
However, a lot of Delany's trademarks are here, and there are bouts of neat ideas, making it worth reading for Delany completists like myself.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Interesting collection of insights about how to green your life and perhaps save/make some money at the same time. Go Green, Live Rich is a rather slender, breezy volume written with the cheery agressiveness of a lot of business books of this type.
This seems like a curious selection based on previous blog entries, and it is. I had to select a "green" book to complete the summer reading program at the Morrison-Reeves Library. I picked this one because of having some interest in green living and green applications at work and home. This very quick read had some decent takeaways; however, I wasn't convinced that if I took all my savings from going green and invested it I would become rich.
Go Green, Live Rich will provide some food for thought as a primer for green thinking, especially if the reader hasn't been exposed to the concepts before.
I checked this out from the Morrison-Reeves Library in Richmond Indiana and read it in a short span of lunch breaks.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Nullifier Joe Gall is given the tricky assignment of spoiling a French nuclear test and pinning it on the Chinese in The Paper Pistol Contract by Philip Atlee.
Naturally, this being written in the swinging 60s, Joe leaves a little time for the ladies and to kill a Godless Communist or two. But in the end I was a bit surprised how philosophical Gall is and more surprised at a somewhat downbeat ending; in fact Gall's "contract" more or less ends in ruins, with the bodies of friends and foes alike around him.
Atlee also displays a fine, full sense of place and character that makes his writing a cut above the usual pulp fare of that era. I was genuinely pleased with the last Joe Gall adventure I read (scroll down) and will keep looking for more of Atlee's work (even as, it seems, more and more of the Gold Medal paperbacks of my youth are in landfills, or somewhere).
I bought this one in a big heaping helping of Atlee and Edward S. Aarons paperbacks from ebay and looking forward to more.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
A Thai cop with his own curious code of ethics (on display in Burdett's last novel with this character, Bangkok 8) intervenes when a prostitute--who works in his mother's brothel--kills an American spy. Soon our somewhat tarnished protagonist stages a coverup that draws the attention of the U.S. government, potential terrorists, and corrupt cops and soldiers.
John Burdett's writing features steel-hearted storytelling spiked with dark humor and shocking bursts of sex and violence. Plenty of Bangkok red-light adventures makes this one cautious treading for the unwary reader, but I really liked our protagonist's circuitous philosophical musings. I will be looking for the third in this series, I believe freshly released.
I checked this out from the Morrison-Reeves Public Library in Richmond, Indiana and read it rather quickly.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Whether you are a hardcore baseball person or a more fair-weather dabbler like myself, Moneyball is engaging storytelling. A reader can tell that Lewis enjoyed the subject and he writes in a bright, clear style. It is interesting to see what has happened to some of the characters--I mean, actual baseball players--since the writing of the book and how the A's have fared overall.
I picked this up for a quarter at a library book sale and passed it on to another baseball fan when I was finished.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
This is the second of the series featuring Maisie Dobbs, and like the first has a mildly engaging mystery. But Dobbs has a great backstory; she was a poor girl who came up "in service" as a maid to a quirky mistress who later sent her to college, then later still serves as a nurse at the front in World War I, becoming wounded and then coming under the toutelage of a Poirot-like investigator and eventually taking over his practice.
Consequently, I picked up the second novel mostly to see what happened to Maisie Dobbs next, and again found the storylines from the past more compelling than the present mystery presented. I think the writing is a little more clear-eyed than what you might find in the typical English "cozy" mystery, and Winspear writes with a nuanced ear for details. This, more than any plotting, would encourage me to get the next in the series.
I checked this out from the Morrison-Reeves Library in Richmond, Indiana.
As I wrote recently, I have a renewed interest (along with a fair chunk of fandom) in finding some pulpy Gold Medal books of the 50s-70s, and getting acquainted (or re-acquainting myself) with this body of work.
I had not read Atlee before and found myself pleasantly surprised. His protagonist, Joe Gall, never found a doll he didn't want to bed or a commie he didn't want to kill, but Atlee has a great sense of detail and place and passages of fine writing, as well as finely-tuned action scenes and bolts of (non-PC) humor. Gall was a more well-rounded character than I thought I would find, once you get past all of the saber-rattling (including one eyebrow-raising scene where Gall, in a steambath, kneads the stump of a Korean War vet who lost his leg).
I thought I would briefly dip into Atlee before resuming another Edward S. Aarons book, but find myself inclined to try Atlee again sooner.
I bought this book in a happily large lot of Gold Medal paperbacks from ebay.