Thursday, August 11, 2011

Reading Roundup and Reviews

1. Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin.

One of my expat novels--this was so beautiful. It shows a man struggling with and trying to come to terms with his sexuality in 1950's Paris in the most beautiful, elegant prose. I don't even have words to describe how hauntingly beautiful this novel is, but it's absolutely amazing. A.

2. Extraordinary Renditions by Andrew Ervin.

Dude. WTF. This book is best described by one word: dissonance. The first and third sections of the book are absolutely beautiful (though Ervin's agenda is bothersome in places, as I have a hard time believing that a Holocaust survivor would compare Gitmo to a concentration camp. Yes, the United States has done some horrible things in the course of the War on Terror, but comparing it to the wholesale extermination of Jews during World War II is beyond the pale.). When Ervin sticks to music, the book is, in fact, musical. The second section, which follows a young, black Marine through Budapest as he delivers illegal weapons for his CO in order to keep from being booted out of the military through trumped up DADT charges, doesn't fit. It has no real linkage with the first and third pieces.

One of the reviews my professor read had to do with the fact that the links between the three novellas seemed contrived. Well, he's right. Linking the first to the second and the second to the third are completely contrived, while the first and third are perfectly done. Apparently, the second novella had been a story the author wrote during college and admitted was bad--in which case, it should have been left out and he should have written something else for the middle section. C-.

3. Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

I took a break from expat reading to have some fun with Sookie Stackhouse--and was fairly disappointed by it. It felt like nothing happened. The only real action took place in the last twenty pages or so, and the rest of the novel was really not that great.

I hate saying things like this about authors that I enjoy, and I really hate saying it about someone like Charlaine Harris, who from all accounts is one of the most genuinely nice people you'll ever meet (according to Jim Butcher). Now, is it as bad as what has been made of the most recent season of True Blood? Well, not if I take my favorite Snarky Writer's word for it (as I don't watch the show, but she does), and her own blog posts on the subject have been hilarious. And I should be fair--1. I haven't re-read the book before this one in quite a while, so it did take me a while to get into the book and try to remember what was going on. Since I typically borrow the books from SW, I didn't have it handy. 2. Sookie, Eric (yay, Eric!) and Bill (boo, Bill) were all still recovering from fairly severe injuries from the previous book, so an action-packed novel isn't necessarily realistic. (Although, I should mention that I'm glad that Bill's 'sister' has showed up, because if he's with Judith, then Sookie can stay with Eric, which I heartily approve of.) Anyway, the book had so little going on that I can't really summarize the plot, as I'm not dead sure of what it was, other than a fairy trying to make Sookie's life miserable and some problems with the Were's leadership. Also the government trying to make Weres miserable. B-.

Up next, Sherrilyn Kenyon's No Mercy, as well as the first batch of reading for my directed reading, which includes Aphra Behn's Oroonoko, and Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (which I've read before) and Roxana. It's almost time for school to start back (and yes, I am wishing that there was more than two weeks between now and then and that one of those weeks wasn't taken up with TA orientation, but that's a problem with the university's scheduling. *shakes fist*).

One last note--I was reviewing blog stats, and as I was looking through where posts came from, I found that I had a reader from Germany and one from India. Now, either I have readers in other countries, or someone is using Tor to send their IP address around the world. Whichever it is, please leave me a note! I love meeting new people. :D

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