Books and Book Reviews: June 2005 Archives

Reading List


Founding Brothers Jospeh Ellis
Benajamin Franklin Edmund S. Morgan (The man who is organizing the Franklin Papers)
Streams of Living Water Richard J Foster
Shadow of the Wind Carlos Ruiz Zafon

There are of course a million other things that float into and out of my perception, but for the moment, there will probably be a strong focus on things American, and particularly things Revolutionary. I love the Founding Fathers, Mothers, Brother, whatever you want to call them. And perhaps at the end of the summer, I'll have another opportunity to visit that most wonderful of Revolutionary Shrines--Mount Vernon. (I'll be a mite closer to Monticello, I suspect, but we'll see.)

Wow, what a summer--the Dry Tortugas and Mount Vernon. The only thing to make it better would be Williamsburg. But we may end up waiting until 2007--the tercentary of the the Landing at Jamestown.

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Killing Floor Lee Child


A tremendously violent, extremely high body count mystery thriller. This novel won the Anthony for best first book. And despite its horrendous excess, it deserves the award.

The prose is smooth and supple. I had picked the book up with the idea that I might read it later and found myself taking every free moment (and there were very many) to read it. Compelling and engrossing both for the character presented and the intricate and ornate plot. There are implausibilities that would cause me to balk ordinarily covered by enough velvety smooth prose that they go down easily. (I think for example of the identity of the first victim.)

The novel starts with the arrest of a man in a diner--a man who has only recently arrived in town. He is arrested for a murder that occurred near a place he walked by early in the morning. It is nearly Kafka in its inception. And from that point on it's a roller-coaster ride.

The only author I can think of off-hand who I like better is James Lee Burke, whose prose is equally smooth and whose violence is nearly as overwhelming. I'm not sure I'd care for a steady diet of Child, but a book here or there can punctuate the vast sea of bad prose that consitutes modern fiction.

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The irresistable allure of the prose even in translation decided for me: Shadow of the Wind. I'll be sure to let you all know how it turns out.

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The Eternal Question

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What to Read?

You can see by the review that I finished a relatively unsatisfying read last night and now three fiction books loom before me as possibilities:

The Romanov Prophecy Steve Berry(not Legacy as I erroneously posted last night
Sanibel Flats Randy Wayne White
The Shadow of the Wind Carolos Ruiz Zafón

Of this last, perhaps my correspondents in Spain can better inform me, but the translation appears to offer some linguistic delights. Among them this moment from the very beginning:

from The Shadow of the Wind
Carolos Ruiz Zafón

A few of his chums grumbled in assent. Barceló signaled to a waiter of such remarkable decrepitude that he looked as if he should be declared a national landmark. . . .

"I hate to bring up the subject," Barceló said, "but how can ther be jobs? In this country nobody ever retires, not even after they're dead. Just look at El Cid. I tell you, we're a hopeless case."

And there were about three quotable lines in between. The premise is intriguing. A young boy is taken into a place called "The Cemetary of Lost Books" where he finds one called Shadow of the Wind, the last novel of Juliá Carax. In pursuing Carax's work, the boy discovers that every copy of his novels is being systematically destroyed--he may own the last copy of Shadow of the Wind. Don't know much more than that from the cover, but it sounds very Perez-Reverte. The blurbs say, "Gabriel Garcia Marquez meets Umberto Eco meet Jorge Luis Borges." Not a promising blurb, I'll grant you, rather like a raspberry, chicken, and asparagus milkshake. Nevertheless, I take the point that we're talkling postmodern aesthetic encounters magic realism. I should have thought comparison to the remarkable The Club Dumas would have been suffiicient--the novel already shares some similarities in plot elements.

But decisions, decisions. l rather think I should speed through the first two to land in the third and spend my time.

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This page is a archive of entries in the Books and Book Reviews category from June 2005.

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