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November 21, 2010

Sunday Book Thread

I finished up a few books that I've mentioned in previous threads, so I thought I'd give a quick overview of them.

The Passage, by Justin Cronin. I've heard people compare this book to Stephen King's The Stand, but I don't know that I'd say that. Yes, it's an apocalyptic novel where civilization is brought low by an ancient evil (glow-in-the-dark vampires, in this case); but Cronin is laboring mightily to make this book about something more than just the monsters. He doesn't succeed entirely: the first third of the book is great, but the rest of the book slows to a crawl. I think that would be my utlimate judgement on the novel: too slow. The vampires never really coalesce as a scary enemy, and the book just drags on too much. It would have been a stronger novel if it had been cut by about about a third, I think. (This is the first book of a trilogy, and I fear the bloat will only get worse.)

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by Walker Evans and James Agee. I first read this book in high school (lo these many years ago), and it has been a favorite ever since. It is neither history nor memoir, exactly, but something else. There aren't many books in my library that I return to as often as this one.

I don't often read poems any more, but there are certain poets whose work I revisit at long intervals. Edgar Lee Masters is one such, with his collection Spoon River Anthology. Like Whitman in Leaves of Grass, Masters captures the American plainsong better than almost any poet who came afterward.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that I finished Adam Carolla's book In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks. There's not much new here if you've heard his stand-up act or listened to his podcast, but it's still pretty damned funny stuff (and sharp, too). Any book that can make me literally laugh out loud deserves a good mention.

Also: I managed to break my Kindle. I dropped it on a wooden floor, and...pfut! I didn't realize how much I used it until it was broken. It seems an incredible inconvenience to actually have to carry multiple books around with me now. The good news is that Amazon is replacing it free of charge under warranty, so I should have the replacement unit in the next day or two.

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posted by Monty at 10:42 AM

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