June 25th, 2012

alan, Rude

Books 2012 6-16

6. High On Arrival - Mackenzie Phillips
7. The Mystery of the Duchess of Malfi - Barbara Banks Amendola
8. Perfect Murder Perfect Town: JonBenet and the City of Boulder - Lawrence Schiller
9. Extras - Scott Westerfeld
10. Jekel Loves Hyde - Beth Fantaskey
11. The Abandoned - Amanda Stevens
12. Alone - Lisa Gardner
12. The Apprentice - Tess Gerritsen
13. Beautiful Lies - Lisa Unger
14. Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
15. Stripped: Twenty Years of Secrets from Inside the Vegas Strip Club - Brent Kenton Jordan
16. The Surgeon - Tess Gerritsen

I need to keep better track of what I read on the Kobo.

Of all those, the one I would most recommend is Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I bought it on a rec from a friend. It sat on my Kobo for ages before I read it. Should never have left it that long.
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Book 21

Book 21
The Line - Olga Grushin

One of the common sights on the news from Communist countries were the lines.

The misfires of the economic policy's distributive system meant folks waited in lines - long lines - for everything from soap to bread to shoes. Often, people would get into line uncertain of what was even going to be sold. But many would wait anyway, on the off chance they might get whatever was on offer before supplies ran out.

Those lines and the specific queue that waited a year when it was announced that Stravinsky would return to the Soviet Union in the early 60s is the basis for the novel, which uses the device to demonstrate the gaps and losses in daily Soviet life.

Doing so means learning about the people in the line as they develop relationships and slowly unearthing the stories the family that serves for our narrative - Sergi, the tuba player who had had a chance at musical excellence before the Revolution or Change, his wife, Anna, a teacher, their brutish son Sasha and the grandmother, long ago a celebrated dancer in Paris and one-time lover of the composer about to return.

The problem is, the narrative jumps from person to person and blends in dream states and mystical moments that make it difficult if not sometimes impossible to follow. We are witness to a slow-motion tragedy but it loses its impact as tangents bend in on themselves.

It's impressive that the Russian-born-and-raised Grushin has such a masterful command of English. But her insistence on unnecessary descriptions and shifting points of view muck up the storytelling and vision. That means the book never lives up to its promise, as a way to show us the distortions of Communism or even as a commentary on our own consumerism.

In the end, there is too much going on here. She'd have done better to study Stravinsky, whose ability to incorporate varied elements never tampered with this distinct identity.
Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

Restful. That was yesterday. Among other things done, I completed two books I was reading:

First was Osprey Warrior #135: North Vietnamese Army Soldier 1958 – 75. Now, they were the enemies of my country in my youth; to see them described in some detail in this fashion is a bit disconcerting. Not a bad read.

Second was Osprey Men-at-Arms #176: Austrian Army of the Napoleonic Wars (1): Infantry, getting back on the Napoleonic bandwagon that so much of the Osprey books seem to deal with. In any case, I learned a few things in here. Most of my previous reading about these wars deal primarily either with the French or the British, but Austria was a major player and enemy of France, and this book deals fairly well with the mainstay infantry formations of that war. Not bad at all.