Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November 2016 Books Read

November was a busy month. Not as much time for reading as I would have liked.

I'm not an enormous Neil Gaiman fan but have liked the stuff by him that I've read. This book is a collection of non-fiction work, mainly talks he's given at conferences, book reviews he's written and magazine and newspaper articles he's written. I thought it was going to be more about how he writes then it was but still mostly enjoyable. He talks about his childhood, how he discovered books and was saved by them and how he decided to be a writer.  There are several chapters about other writers he's known. Some of this was interesting but I wasn't familiar with many of them so that was less enjoyable. I'd say if you're a Gaiman fan, read this.

This was a very unlike Stephen King book. For one thing, it was short. For another, it didn't have much plot. I liked listening to it because the reader was great. The cover makes this look like some 1940's noir fiction but the cover has absolutely nothing to do with the story. The book is about a female college journalism major who takes a summer intern job at a small newspaper on a small island off the (where else?) Maine coast. The old timers (one is 90) at the paper take to telling her about the greatest local mystery they knew. The mystery was about an unidentified dead man found on the beach. Eventually he was traced to Colorado (hence the title) but they couldn't figure out exactly how he could have made it from the last sight of him in Colorado to his first sighting at the town. Or why he choked on a piece of steak on the beach. Then the story ended.

A much more Stephen King like book. Long and exciting. The story takes place in a little town in western Pennsylvania in 1978. Christine was a beat up old 1958 Plymouth Fury which a local high school student buys for $250, much against his best friends advice, from the old man who owned her. Turns out the car is possessed. And, once given a little care, can self-repair. And go after the kid's enemies in the town. You may remember the cult classic move made by John Carpenter from around 1983. I liked the book so much I bought the DVD, which was surprisingly good.

Ex-Washington DC police detective, Frank Marr, just became a hero by rescuing a teen-aged girl from the drug gang that kidnapped her. But Frank doesn't want to be a hero. He was in a position to rescue the girl because he was stealing cocaine from the gang and accidentally found her. He was retired from the police force because of his cocaine habit. His superiors gave him a early retirement package to get rid of him. He'd been a good cop and they were afraid that every past conviction he'd been involved in might be overturned because his habit would make him an unreliable witness. Marr now works as a private detective, managing most of the time to keep his habit under control. This looks like the beginning of a series. I hope the second book is as good as the first.

This was more like a novella than a full novel. In this near future story, Marmeg Guinto is a girl who wants to be an engineer but, due to her social status, can't afford to get into college. In this time, bodily implants to increase muscle action and cognition are within the price range of almost anybody. She's cobbled together enough equipment to enter a competition, a race across the Mohave Desert, survivable only due to implants. She's written her own software and believes she has a chance. In addition to the excitement of the race, there is a lot of social commentary extrapolating from current events. A good read.

Are you familiar with Shakespeare's "The Tempest"? Well neither was I. Felix was the art director of a small Canadian town's annual Theater Festival. Every year he would put on a Shakespeare play. One year it was going to be "The Tempest", but he got fired due to the underhanded actions of his assistant. 12 years later, he's now running a theater class at a local prison. Once again he's going to put on "The Tempest", but this time, he's going to get revenge on those responsible for his long ago disgrace.  The story of the story parallels the story of "The Tempest". I know this because, as he works with the prisoners, he teaches them (and the reader) what "The Tempest" is all about. I almost gave up on this a few chapters in but I'm glad I didn't. Very enjoyable book.

1 comment:

Hackenbush said...

I read the Gaiman book. I'm not a fan of much of what he likes but what comes across in a big way is how much passion he has for reading. The passion and joy for the arts is what I really admire about Neil and his wife Amanda Palmer.