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dracjr

dracjr

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Joseph Anton. A Memoir
Salman Rushdie
Moonheart
Charles de Lint

The Dress Lodger (Ballantine Reader's Circle)

The Dress Lodger - Sheri Holman Might have been OK with a better editor. The writing style is pretty pretentious, but the bigger issue is the weird continuity problems - there are a whole lot of scenes where the author seemed to forget whom exactly the narrator was supposed to be addressing, who the narrator *was*, or what the characters were doing from one sentence to the next (e.g., a woman barrelling into a group of men hard enough to scatter them, though she's also supposed to be holding an extremely delicate, sickly infant...? Somehow?) She also bases most of the suspense in the story on the idea that cholera epidemics are caused by even the briefest skin-to-skin contact with infected people (or sitting near them. Or being in a room they've been in in the past few days. Or touching anything they've ever touched, no matter how long ago.) Here too, a good editor or fact-checker would have been helpful. I could probably have overlooked any of these issues on their own, or maybe I could have overlooked all of them if the story had been better. As it is, I spent the first third of the book confused about whether the book was *supposed* to be this nonsensical, the next two-thirds expecting the author to forget a character's name or claim they picked up bubonic plague from indiscriminate eye contact, and all of it irritated by the writing style.

A time of changes (Panther science fiction)

A time of changes (Panther science fiction) - Robert Silverberg Really cool concept - a society where self-denial and repression are so crucial that not only can you not talk about your feelings or yourself, it's considered obscene even to use the pronouns "I" and "me." The execution is disappointing though; mostly the characters talk about themselves plenty, but using words like "one" or "this one" instead of "I." They don't come across as a different culture so much as the same culture with very slightly different grammar (along with some oddly stilted speech patterns, given that the book seems to be set in the future). It's not terrible, but it's pretty forgettable.There's also this really weird thing happening in this book, where the author spends a whole bunch of time reminding you that sometimes people can be talking about themselves without actually saying "I am the person we are discussing here"... and then goes on to devote a LOT of scenes to his character suffering invariable premature ejaculation. (Like, a WHOLE lot.) And then reassuring the reader that you can still be a superhot stud even when you do have that problem, because, as he repeatedly explains, his character is really sexy and women totally want him. If he was trying to get me to identify with his characters by making me feel skeeved out about oversharing, mission DEFINITELY accomplished.

Leave It to Psmith

Leave It to Psmith - P.G. Wodehouse This book is a great introduction to Wodehouse; if you don't know where to start with the short stories or the vast array of Jeeves novels, this book is an easy place to begin. The book has the effortless humor and fast pacing Wodehouse is known for, and the plot is a typical Wodehouse affair, with plenty of attempted theft, false identities, and courtships successful and unsuccessful. But Psmith, the main character, is not a bit like the nearly interchangeable Drones Club members and associated wealthy relatives; he's endlessly articulate (endlessly - he dominates every conversation he's a part of, as well he should, since his speeches are hilarious) and floats into and out of increasingly strange adventures completely unperturbed, without even any apparent effort or intent. He's like a con artist without the cynicism, charming his fellow characters and the reader into forgiving any slight moral lapse he might (completely understandably) have experienced. Definitely a unique character, and both Psmith's style and Wodehouse's make this worth reading.

Deathbird Stories (SFBC 50th Anniversary Collection, No. 24)

Deathbird Stories (SFBC 50th Anniversary Collection, No. 24) - Harlan Ellison Reading this left such a bad taste in my mouth. A couple of other reviewers here have mentioned that the stories are obviously a product of their time. That's true, in the same sense in which your racist, sexist grandad** is a product of his time. I was going to put a couple of short quotations here to illustrate how Ellison talks about (for instance) women and black people, but the first several that I thought of are so horrifyingly offensive that they'd violate the site's terms of use. I could deal with offensive content in the service of a good story, but in most cases, there's not much else to the story. Totally unlikable characters. Trying-too-hard slang that does nothing to disguise the author's pomposity. Repetitive what's-the-world-coming-to-these-days preachiness - most famously represented in "The Whimper of Whipped Dogs," a story/sermon whose message is based on Ellison's total failure to research and understand the famous Kitty Genovese case (Genovese being apparently the only woman Ellison is capable of perceiving as a human being). All women are sex objects. Minority women are exotic sex objects. Minority men are criminals. Admittedly, I didn't finish the book - which makes it one of maybe six books over my entire life that I've hated too much to finish - so it's possible that the whole latter half of the book is chock full of positive messages and fully realized characters, but I went ahead and gambled that I wouldn't be missing out if I stopped reading. In the unlikely event that I want to revisit the experience of reading this, I can always just borrow someone's racist grandad for the day and chat with him until he falls asleep.**If you have one. For the record, my grandads were lovely.

The Man from the Diogenes Club

The Man from the Diogenes Club - Kim Newman A lot of fun to read, as Newman's work usually is, but... man. Spends more time on descriptions of people's clothes than anything I've read since American Psycho... or the Baby-Sitters Club.

At Home with the Marquis De Sade: A Life

At Home with the Marquis De Sade: A Life - Francine du Plessix Gray A good read - well written and engaging - but not for the weak of stomach. I agree with an earlier reviewer who pointed out that this is no glamorous or trendy view of sadism; our modern definition of the idea is pretty cuddly and fuzzy compared to Sade's actual psyche and life.

Juliet, Naked: a novel

Juliet, Naked - Nick Hornby His best since High Fidelity, I think. As with _A Long Way Down_, he doesn't get his American characters' speech quite right - you find them using phrases here and there that Americans just don't generally use, which is especially hard to overlook in the six-year-old-boy character - but overall, the book's a great read.

Additional Dialogue: Letters of Dalton Trumbo, 1942-1962

Additional Dialogue: Letters of Dalton Trumbo, 1942-1962 - Helen Manfull The subjects of the letters aren't always fascinating - lot of financial details and so on - but Trumbo's so good with words (the more sarcastic the better) that it's always readable. The highlights are the letters to his family; the book's best moment is Trumbo's *hilarious* sendup of Nabokov in a long letter to his son.