May 26th, 2010

alan, Rude

Books 1 - 17 (2010)

Nearly June and you'd think I hadn't read a single book all year! Naturally, that's not even close to the truth. :)

1. Unknown - Rachel Caine
Loved this second installment in the Outcast Season series, lots of action, great story.

2. Classic Showbiz Clangers - David Mortimer
Calls itself "an amusing collection of showbiz's most embarrassing moments from over a century". I call it boring.

3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Quotable Slayer - compliled by Micol Ostow and Steven Brezenoff
I nice, quick look at some memorable Buffy moments.

4. Unaccompanied Women - Jan Juska
Follow-up to A Round-Heeled Woman, which I should get my hands on. At age 67 she placed a personal ad. The first book deals with that, this one is about life afterwards. Nicely written but it's not a keeper for my collection.

5. Anyone You Wnat Me To Be: A True Story of Sex and Death on the Internet - John Douglas and Stephen Singular
The story of John Robinson, the internet's first serial killing. Chilling.

6. Digital Fortress - Dan Brown
Intrigue in a government code-breaking department. Kept me turning pages.

7. Cookoff: Recipe Fever in America - Amy Sutherland
Interesting look at the competitive cooking circuit and the folks to who participate.

8. Women About Town - Laura Jacobs
Decent chick lit.

9. Meeting Point - Roisin McAuley
Chick lit meets intrigue. Average.

10. Dishing: Great Dish - and Dishes - From America's Most Beloved Gossip Columnist - Liz Smith
Gossip and recipes in the same book. I liked it, though none of the recipes made me run to the kitchen.

11. The Sea of Monsters - Rick Riordan
12. The Titan's Curse - Rick Riordan
Books 2 & 3 of the Percy Jackson saga. Marvelous, fun, well written. Thank you dumbledore11214.

13. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle - Avi
Wonderful YA adventure tale of "a vicious captain, a mutinous crew - and a young girl caught in the middle". Quite an adventure for a 13 year-old girl.

14. Kindred in Death - J.D. Robb
Another homicide case for the intrepid Eve Dallas. I love these books!

15. Videohound's Video Premieres - Mike Mayo
Quide to limited releases. Gives me a heck of a lot of movies I'd like to add to my "must see" list. :)

16. Spur of the Moment - Theresa Alan
Story of roomies trying to make in the world of improv theatre. It was okay.

17. The End of Harry Potter? - David Langford
Kind of fun to look back at some of the speculation.
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Book 53: The Final Act of Mr. Shakespeare by Robert Winder

Book 53: :The Final Act of Mr. Shakespeare: a Novel
Author: Robert Winder, 2010.
Genre: Historical Fiction, early 17the century England.
Other Details Hardback, 436 pages.

This intelligent, well-crafted novel opens with William Shakespeare returning to London in February 1613 to attend a gala performances of his Richard III. He finds that he is not only disillusioned with the reign of James I but also angry with himself for the way in which he had rewritten history in order to to flatter the Tudor dynasty; specifically by casting Richard III as a hunchbacked monster rather than a deposed king. He is concerned that he will leave behind a legacy in which he will be seen as a "willing collaborator in a calculated piece of political myth-making . . a disgraceful apologia for treason that falsely presented the greedy usurping Tudors as a troop of white knights rescuing England from tyranny".

Shakespeare’s urge to defy royal authority is further sharpened when, after a visit to Sir Walter Raleigh in the Tower, he is abducted by James I's Chief Justice Sir Edward Coke and ordered to write a drama flattering Henry VIII. He agrees but quickly decides to have John Fletcher, his successor as chief dramatist in the King's Men, write that play. Meanwhile, he will work on 'The True and Tragicall History of Henry VII . His plan to 'set the record straight' about the Tudor dynasty is dangerous, and likely treasonable, especially when he is entrusted with an explosive secret.

Shakespeare gathers together his trusted friends, members of the King's Men, to work on the real play in secret. They hold a number of clandestine meetings at locations scattered all over London, playing a cat-and-mouse game with Coke's spies. Also in attendance is the teenage daughter of the poet John Donne, Constance, who has been asked there to supply the female perspective. While Shakespeare is the guiding spirit, the play itself emerges from improvisation and collaboration between Shakespeare and all the players. This organic method does suit the storyline and though Winder does admit in his notes that this is a fictional practice, he insists that as drama is a 'team sport' there might be some truth to it.

Winder is quite bold in including scenes and dialogue from this fictitious play as it develops throughout the novel, and finally all five acts of play, even though it is the raw material rather than the polished version that Shakespeare plans to work up. While Winder is no Shakespeare, I certainly admired his attempt to fill in the gap with the history plays. Aside from an opening disclaimer he also has an end note in which he gives short details of how the lives of the historical characters within the novel played out.

As a long-time supporter of Richard III, I gave a little cheer at the the idea of Shakespeare desiring to right the wrong of Richard III and so was engaged by the story from the opening. I enjoyed the book for its originality as well as for Winder's literary chutzpah in writing an entire 'lost' play. It is a rich narrative, full of reflections on the recurring themes in Shakespeare's plays such as the relationship between fathers and sons and of being washed ashore in strange lands. His characterisations are vibrant and there is a tremendous sense of the theatrical camaraderie with quips and witticisms constantly being exchanged. He also does an excellent job of bringing early 17th century London to life in all its smelly glory as well as contrasting it with the pastoral delights of rural Warwickshire.

Note: to date this book has only been published in the UK.
Dead Dog Cat


Yesterday, before leaving for work, I finished another book: Osprey Fortress #81: Maori Fortifications. I knew little about New Zealand's history, so I found it an interesting read, not the least because of the data on the forts. I forsee using some of this for my RPG campaign...
El Corazon

161. Infinite Jest; 162. The Twenty-Seventh City

Infinite Jest
by David Foster Wallace

Started: May 12, 2010
Finished: May 21, 2010

This was a mammoth undertaking that I'd been putting off for years. There were stretches of this gargantuan novel that I really didn't care--especially in the early going before I got into Wallace's rhythm and style of writing--but they were also many, many stretches that were mindblowingly brilliant. I'm glad I finally read this. It was well worth the effort. 1,070 pages. Grade: A-
The Twenty-Seventh City
by Jonathan Franzen

Started: May 12, 2010
Finished: May 26, 2010

I didn't much like this novel. Franzen was clearly already a capable writer in this, his first novel, but the story and characters left me feeling cold. I didn't like anybody in this novel. I didn't hate anybody in this novel. I just didn't much care what happened to anybody in this novel. 517 pages. Grade: C+
Total # of Books Read in 2010:162
Total # of Pages Read in 2010: 41,799

Books 47 to 50

A surprising couple of days off due to heavy rain and flooding has meant that I was able to read a little more.
Book 48 was the final part of Philip Reeve's series which began with Mortal Engines and ended with A Darkling Plain. It was well written, and ended with clearly even if not happily.
Another 'school' book borrowed from the library was John Grisham's The Summons and it was an ok story; I have read better works by him. There was more than one lawyer, it was set in the southern states of the USA... I am sure you get it!
Then Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl with the first book of the series made my 50th. I found it amusing that it was set in Dublin and when the lead character's mother wakes up she calls for deliveries from Brown Thomas, which was and is an upmarket fashion store...

So far this year 50 books and 14,084 pages.