Maribou (maribou) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

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Monkey Tinsel Palace; Best Angel Shortcomings

The Palace, by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (reread, I think)
I didn't remember the plot of this novel at all but the ambience felt really familiar, hence my hesitation over whether it's a reread or not. Think it *might* just have been the book that turned me on to vampire novels, back as a wee lass of 14 or so. Hm. Anyway, I enjoyed it. Want to read the rest of the series VERY BADLY. This may help me stick to my book buying/borrowing rules so I can get to the point where I can acquire the next several in the series and go on a binge - or it may be the thing that knocks me off the wagon;).

The Monkey Wrench Gang, by Edward Abbey (reread)
I had conflated MWG with its sequel, Hayduke Lives!, and also, perhaps relatedly, forgotten (or not noticed when I read it 15 years ago) the casual sexism/racism that is particularly apparent in the first few chapters. The book is very 1975 in some irritating ways. Bah. Still, there is something very freeing and cathartic in this comedy of ecosabotage.... just because I'm not about to start burning down billboards and blowing up bridges doesn't mean I don't get oddly wistful when I read about imaginary people doing it.

Tinsel, by Hank Stuever
This is mostly a book about what Christmas is like for most Americans these days, as exemplified by selected residents of Frisco, Texas, and I think it does a pretty good job of that. The reason I liked it so much, though, is that it does a bloody great job of enumerating almost ALL the reasons why I suffered severe culture shock when moving here from Montreal in 1998, and many of the reasons why I still feel somewhat alienated from some of our family here in the States. Stuever excels, IMO, at explaining mainstream American consumer culture without simply ragging on it, mocking it, or hitting the easy targets. And I adored the thread about the husband, wife, and brother-in-law with the biggest light show in Frisco. I only wish this book had been around for Christmas 1998! The effects of the current recession on the people he chronicles do lend a particular poignancy to the stories though.

Shortcomings, by Adrian Tomine
Dude, I do not even know how to explain this book properly. It's a graphic novel about some 20-somethings in Oakland and NYC who are mostly Asian-Americans. It's short and sharp and mean and funny and compassionate and I liked it.

The Best American Science Writing 2009, edited by Natalie Angier and Jesse Cohen
So much love for this series. And a particularly satisfying iteration of it though the last couple of essays did not do as much for me as the rest of the book did. Still, I LOVE IT. If you like science essays, GO READ IT. (Heck, if you just like essays, go read it - unlike some of its sistren, this Best of series goes for *writing first*, then content a solid second.) But if you read Atul Gawande's brilliant essay The Itch and then you are itchy every time you think about it for DAYS AFTERWARD, well, don't say I didn't warn you.

Angel: After the Fall, vol. 3 and 4, by Brian Lynch et al.
Fun! And very prettily inked/colored, something I really appreciate in my fairly-mindless-but-full-of-beloved-characters adventure comics:). Some of the gallery drawings were amaaazing. Am saving up the last one for when I have my wisdom teeth out next weekend. 4 was more smoothly done than 2 or 3, which gives me good hopes for 5 (and future vols.)
(46/200, 47/200; 2/100, 3/100)

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