January 04, 2005

One More Reading Update for the Road

I have spent around 20 hours in Barnes & Noble since Sunday afternoon, and another . . . sizable chunk-ish of hours reading at home. I did some other stuff, but that's less important because it is significantly more boring. In the end, my last few days here can be summed up as follows:

The Grim Grotto by Lemony Snicket (finished at B&N, see previous post)

Henry V by William Shakespeare (finished at B&N)

Prince Hal finally grows up and kicks arrogant French people all over Agincourt. Besides that, it's Shakespeare. Huzzah.

Big Fish by Daniel Wallace (finished at B&N)

Very different from the movie, but still recognizable. I prefer the movie due to a certain lack of coherence in the book. But then, the intent behind the book is different from the movie's as well. Edward Bloom still tells the funniest jokes . . . but married fidelity doesn't exist. Which is weird, considering . . .

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom (finished at B&N)

Eddie, an 83-year old WWII vet who is in charge of maintenance at Ruby Pier Carnival, dies while trying to save a little girl from a malfunctioning free-fall ride. He arrives in heaven and finds that he will meet five people (relatives, old friends, complete stranges, etc.) who deeply affected his life in some way. These people will reveal the mystery of his existence to him . . . Superb story. Fluffy philosophy. The writing was very good, very readable, and very engaging. I could easily have finished this book in one sitting. I really liked the observations about parenting. Intriguing perspective on heaven. But now I'm just repeating Martinez.

The Ball and the Cross by G. K. Chesterton (finished at B&N)

Two Scots, a Catholic and an Atheist, challenge each other to a duel and are immediately forced to become fugitives together, leading the rest of England on a merry chase as society rises up to stop them from fighting about personal convictions. Excellent book by Chesterton . . . but I repeat myself.

The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton (finished at B&N)

Gabriel Syme, the quintessential common man, is caught up in an epic struggle between Law and Chaos when he infiltrates the Central Anarchist Council of Europe (made up of seven members codenamed after days of the week) as "Thursday." What follows is a tense and deadly game of cloak-and-dagger full of coded messages, lethal duels, and desperate chases as Syme works tirelessly to bring down the sinister and seemingly omnipotent "Sunday." The plot twists come thick and fast as the story builds towards the startling (and allegorical!) climax. Huzzah! Again!

Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne (finished at home)

Who doesn't love this book? Not me! (What I mean by that double negative, in case you didn't follow, is that I love this book.) I haven't read these things in forever . . . and they're even better than they used to be! How often does that happen?! Must re-read "The House at Pooh Corner!"

As for the rest of break:

Forward the Mage by Eric Flint & Richard Roach (finally finished)

Hilarious but excessively random fantasy . . . thingie. Zulkeh (pompous, pontificating mage extraordinaire) must save the world from the CRUDs with the help of his stupid-but-loyal dwarven apprentice Shelyid, the world-famous strangler Greyboar, Greyboar's stunted-but-silver-tongued agent Ignace, Magrit the witch, Ludwig the escaped lunatic who owns and runs his own asylum, and . . . a whole bunch of other people by stealing the Rap Sheet which . . . does stuff. Meanwhile, there's a sideplot involving the adventures of Greyboar's sister Guenevere and the gallant artist Benvenuti Sfondrati-Piccolomini, who are . . . Oh, whatever. I can't possibly explain the plot, because it's really just an elaborate-but-nonexistent illusion designed to unite as many random and hilarious characters as possible on a lengthy quest for the entertainment of the reader.

Star Wars: The Cestus Deception by Steven Barnes (quit in disgust)

Read 45 pages. Absolutely couldn't take one more page. When did they start letting "expert in three different martial arts and spouse of real author" substitute for "established and talented author of actual science fiction novels" on the Star Wars book authors' credentials? I've been writing better Star Wars crap than this since I was sixteen, and I suck.

A Room With a View by E. M. Forster (finished in the car)

Forster is so awesome! Very hilarious. Excellent characters. Brilliant dialogue. This book was so vastly superior to the movie that I almost can't wait to read "A Passage to India" one of these days.

Darwin's Radio by Greg Bear (have yet to finish in the car)

I'm about to drown in microbiology technobabble, but the story is still decent. This sucker's looooooong, though. Like, 17.5 hours long. Hopefully the action will pick up and keep me awake tomorrow.

The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren (please end!)

I'm not going to say a word about the quality of this book. But I've been "reading" it for about 6 months and I'm ready to be done.

Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake (please don't end!)

I'll be sad when this one is done, but it has taken me awhile (especially considering how thin it is). And there are always those wonderful critical essays to dig into!

Lady Chatterly's Lover by D. H. Lawrence (recently begun)

He's such a good writer. Dang. And I can't believe this was published in 1928. Dang. I'm glad I didn't live at that time and in that place. It's depressing like . . . Saki or Wodehouse would be without The Funny. Life seems like it was so empty for the Brits during the wane of their world power status. I wonder if things will be the same for us, someday. It made me think cause-and-effect . . . was this attitude caused by the fall of empire, or did it contribute to it? If it contributed, could America be approaching decline? I look forward to reading further . . .

But enough of all that. Tomorrow I hit the road (hopefully) and I expect to find Wilson already in the Ice Cave when I arrive in Longview. It'll be great to get back, weather permitting. Right now this area is blanketed in heavy fog and thunderstorms (including hail) and the roads could be icy tomorrow. Wonderful . . . and I've already been dreading this drive for weeks.

I'll be sure to post as soon as I arrive safely. See you on the other side.

Posted by Jared at January 4, 2005 11:54 PM | TrackBack