Thursday, February 02, 2006

Other Books Read in January, Part One

I didn't blog about most of these at the time, so this will be essentially everything I read this month. This may end up being chopped in half for length reasons (if there's a "Part One" in the header, I've already done that). I've also decided not to list books that I didn't finish, partially to keep the list somewhat shorter, partially out of guilt, and partially because I'm worried the authors of said books might read this blog, find out I didn't finish their books, and ask me pointed questions...
  • Built To Last by George Sullivan
    A Young Adult non-fiction book about bridges, dams, and other massive engineering accomplishments. It was interesting, but I mostly read it to drop it off in Things 1's room afterwards. I don't think he's looked at it yet.
  • The Blood Knight by Greg Keyes
    Third in "The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone" epic fantasy series. I love this series: Keyes is doing a George Martin-esque series (somewhat less grue, though) with wit and verve and his own style. The last series of his I read (The Age of Unreason) bogged down in book three, but this is just as good as its predecessors, and actually has a solid, important-things-happening ending -- almost unheard of for book three-but-not-final in a big series like this. More people should be reading these books! [Mutters, shakes his fist at the sky and shambles off.]
  • Star Wars: Incredible Cross-Sections by David West Reynolds
    Another YA book that moved up to Thing 1's room after I read it. I believe this is also the book that killed DK. [Doffs cap.]
  • Bonjour Laziness by Corinne Maier
    I did blog about this briefly; it's a runaway smash hit French bestseller about not working too hard. One of those books that's no longer than it needs to be, and a nice book to knock off in a couple of hours.
  • Talk to the Hand by Lynne Truss
    She's staking out a position as her generation's general-purpose curmudgeon in the UK, but this is somewhat less interesting than Eats, Shoots, and Leaves. Here she's complaining about how everything everyone else does is annoying. Short version: she hates everything and everyone, and will, within a few years, be one of those nutters pushing around shopping trolleys and ranting loudly about orbital mind-control lazers. (True complaint: she can't stand people who smoke outdoors. I don't smoke myself, and am not a huge fan of the stench of cigarettes, but this is ridiculous.)
  • Pornoland by Stefano De Luigi with a text by Martin Amis
    Artsy photos taken on porn sets in Europe and the USA over a period of years, featuring some naked people but no really dirty stuff. I bought it for the Amis connection, and his "text" is an essay (it reads like a magazine article, actually) about porn, featuring interviews with several directors and performers in Southern California. One of the things I like best about Amis is his non-fiction, especially when he does relatively serious reportage, so this was a neat thing.
  • Wimbledon Green: The Greatest Comic Book Collector in the World by Seth
    This is a "sketchbook graphic novel," which means it was supposed to be not as finished as Seth's usual style. Maybe it's been a while since I read a Seth book, but it didn't look at all "sketchy" to me. (And I almost didn't buy this, because it was shrinkwrapped, and "sketchbook" made me think of sub-Image full-page doodles of girls with unfeasibly large mammalian appendages.) The story is yet another joke version of the comic book world (somewhat like Dan Clowes's Pussey! or the "Rusty Brown" stories by Chris Ware), but done with a lot more genuine affection. And Seth is, as always, marvelous with dialogue. For readers who know anything at all about the comics world -- even those who have avoided Seth previously as one of those pretentious arty types -- this is a wonderful little book.
  • Star Trek: Captain's Glory by William Shatner with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens
    It finished the current trilogy. I read it with no pain. I actually found Shatner's middle trilogy (this is the third one) quite a lot of fun in an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink way, but this trilogy was much snoozier for me.
  • Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link
    I don't like it as much as everyone else does, and I don't like it as much as Stranger Things Happen. I've been thinking about it, on and off, since I read it, which certainly is the mark of an book worth reading. A couple of the stories, including the title one, really worked, but too many of them seemed like exquisitely-written non-stories (what I mean is: they were collections of prose organized into beautiful sentences and paragraphs that started in interesting places but didn't go from that place to anywhere else). I'll keep thinking about it. It's certainly worth reading, though, especially for writers -- Link is the current master at using exactly the right word at all times.
  • School Days by Robert B. Parker
    First I read Parker uncritically, as yet another decent PI writer. Then, for a while, I kept reading his Spencer books (they were too short and zippy not to read), but denigrated them, telling people that they were pointless, effortless, and all had the same, very bland, plot. But something happened to me (I don't think it was to Parker) three or four books back: I finally got it. Sometime in the past, at least a decade ago, Parker whittled his prose down to the absolute minimum number of words necessary to tell his stories; there's not an ounce of fat anywhere in these books. I'm not sure how he manages to have such sparkling dialogue within that minimalism, but he does it. It's really amazing to see him take the PI genre and flay it to the bone, and then watch it get up and walk around.
  • Vinamarama by Grant Morrison and Philip Bond
    An OK graphic novel, but nothing special. Morrison was on a limited series roll before this, with Seaguy and We3, but this is just fluffy fun.
  • Samurai Executioner, Vol. 7: The Bamboo Splitter by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima
    Not much to say at this point in the series (after seven previous volumes of this and 28 of Lone Wolf and Cub). Gorgeous art, gripping stories, set in a world 21st century Americans can barely comprehend. Very good stuff.
  • The Legend of Grimjack, Vol. 3 by John Ostrander and Tim Truman
    I was a little uneasy going back to this series (one of my favorites in my early comics-reading days in the late '80s), since the new series, Killer Instinct, was a little, well, a little sentimental. I'd remembered the old ones as very unsentimental, and I was worried that was just nostalgia talking. Nope. John Gaunt was a right bastard most of the time (though he was a bit of a softy in the stories in the first volume), and this collection gets into some of the better single-issue stories of the Ostrander-Truman run. It makes me want to find what comics Ostrander is writing these days; he's very good at slightly twisted adventure stories, and I've liked all of his stuff that I've read. (He's probably writing a superhero I can't stand right now, though.)
  • His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
  • Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik
  • Black Powder War by Naomi Novik
    I have already talked about these here, but I still love them. Naomi, if you're out there, write #4 quickly!
That's enough for one day (especially since I'm already a day late!) The second half of last month will follow (tomorrow, I hope).

1 comment:

RobB said...

The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone is right up there with Bakker and Martin as best ongoing series right now.

Ostrander has been and is writing a lot of Star Wars stuff for Dark Horse, which from what I gather, is pretty well-received. Newsarama just ran an article about the story, Legacy earlier in the week.

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