Archive for books

To Be Read

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on August 30, 2010 by Budd Black

I finished my most recent book and wasn't sure what I would pick off of my shelf read next.  I have a shelf of books that I am trying to get through.  I bought the books at various times and have always preempted them with other books.  I am trying not to request books from the library or buy anything until I finish the shelf (exceptions of course for book club books and amazing deals like the copy of Spook County that I picked up a Big Lots for $3.  But I plan on going ot a William Gibson reading this month and will take that and maybe a couple of others to get signed).

With my mind drawing a blank and wanting to read some of the more recent additions as opposed to some books that had been collecting dust for a while, I decided to use the only truly random method; a child.  I called my daughter over and asked her which one I should read next.  She picked Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.  I have read only one other book by MZB and it was a Darkover novel that I didn't care for.  So, I wasn't looking forward to it.  I pulled it down and it was sooooooo heavy.  It comes in at about 900 pages. 

Thanks a lot, Ashli.  Guess I had to read it sometime. 

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Kafka on the Shore-book review

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on July 16, 2010 by Budd Black

I will preface this by saying that I am a huge Murakami fan.  I picked up a copy of Norwegian Wood several years ago (I think I got an uncorrected proof for free).  I was blown away.  His writing style was poignent and amazing.  Norwegian Wood is one of my favorite books and Murakami is one of my favorite authors.  I went on to read some of his short story collections, South of the Border, West of the Sun, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Underground, Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, and I listened to Dance, Dance, Dance.  To this point South of the Border was my least favorite and that was because it was just kind of forgettable.  I enjoyed reading it.  Undergound and The Wind Up Bird Chronicles are two more favorites.  Underground is even non fiction. 

This review is for the Audio book version:

The plot follows 15 year old Tamura (Kafka) as he runs away from home.  He has the Oedipal curse placed upon him and that seems to be what he is running from, but he doesn't know who his mother is; she left when he was four.  The curse also stated that he would sleep with his sister.  As the book progresses, it looks as though Kafka is running towards the curse instead of away from it. 

A second part of the plot follows a man named Nakata.  Something weird that is never explained in the book happens that causes him to be mentally deficient when he is young.  He is now old and the governor gives him a subsidy.  He is by far the more interesting character in the story.  He can talk to cats, which makes him an excellent cat finder. 

Throw in some incest, pediphilia, rape/incest, murder, animal mutilation, Colonel Sanders as a pimp, fish and leaches raining from the sky, a transvestite librarian, a philosophy touting prostitute, some classical music product placement, Johny Walker as a pied piper, and some really good dumps and the rest of the story is filled in. 

Like I said earlier.  The Nakata character is the most interesting as is his story arch.  The Kafka character comes across as very Emo and very unnatural for a 15 year old.  He runs across a women and speculates she is his mother, then sleeps with her.  Both characters are aware that he thinks that she is his mother, and the mother is positive that she is.  The Kafka parts of the story come across as Lectures and incestual erotica. 

At one point in the novel, during a lecture, the Chekov line that if there is a gun on the table in act one, it should be

Kafka on the Shore
Haruki Murakami

fired by the end of the play comes up.  This is very ironic because there are all kinds of metephorical guns laying all over the place in the novel and not a single shot is heard at the end.  The resolution wasn't so much a resolution as it was more just throwing the pieces to the wind.  Murakami has a tendency to wander in the last third of his longer works.  It almost seems as he is looking for a way to get to the climax, in his other longer works this has been okay because said wandering has lead us on some kooky adventures.  This book seems to wander the whole way and sure it is a kooky adventure, there is no sense on the kafka side of the narrative that anything has really changed or that he has learned anything. 

Overall this story looked like an incoherent list of tropes from his other works.  It is all there.  Cats, dream worlds, prostitutes, travel, someone too young being given attention by someone much older (although he took a new take on it in this one), world war II playing into the story in some way, the student riots of the 60's in japan, love of music, love of literature, strange sexual sequences, his love of obscure cinema and Woody Allen movies, unrequited love.  Yes, every page of the book feels like you have been there bofore but had a better time the previous trip. 

I can't really suggest this book.  If you are unfamiliar with Murakami, I would suggest a book of his short stories.  He seems to be a polarizing auther as people love him or hate him.  The short stories will give you a feel for his varied writing styles.  I have already mentioned my favorite novels above.  I understand that he can't write something I will like everytime and I hope that this novel is the odd ball out.  It got great reviews from the intellectual elite, but his books are smart and weird so that is to be expected, but this was just derivitive of everything else he has done.  It came across as lazy. 

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Ender is Done

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on September 20, 2009 by Budd Black

I just finished reading Ender's Game to Ashli.  She loved it.  She has even recruited her friends as toon leaders in her own Phoenix Army at school.  Her favorite quotation is, "Cover your butt, Bernard is watching.  God."  It was great to share this book with her.  I hope she remembers it all of her life.  It is really rewarding to have a piece of literature that you like so much and to be able to pass it on to your children. 

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Anathem

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 6, 2009 by Budd Black
Anathem
Neal Stephenson

This book can not be explained in a short review. Stephenson creates a
world that is very complicated, has its own history, and creates a
language to go along with it. While some elements of the novel will be
very similar to what the reader is used to, some of the book can be very
confusing.

The story follows Erasamas, a young avout, as he is pulled out of his
math (a scientific monastery of sorts) with several of his companions to
solve a problem of the secular world. The beginning of the book is set
up to explain to you what a math is like before you get to the actual
plot. The pacing can be slow at times but lightening quick at others.
This is a very aggressive work by Stephenson and may be called his
masterpiece. Not that it is perfect, but Stephenson set out to write a
literary science fiction novel and he succeeded.

Readers of Stephenson know that he has a tendency to not end a book so
much as he stops writing it. In this book Stephenson did a good job of
wrapping things up on some degree and leaving a lot up to the
imaginations of his readers. A goal that he has been tweaking from day
one.

This book is hard to suggest to just anyone. People with very
scientific minds that love talking about and exploring theories and
science should really get into this book. The literary elite have
seemed to enjoy this book as well. This book is very deep and thought
provoking though. This isn't popular sci-fi. Personally, I loved it.

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Real World

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on July 16, 2009 by Budd Black

Natsuo Kirino, a well known author in Japan, releases her second English
translation with Real World. Real world follows four Japanese high
school girls as they assist a boy that has just committed matricide in
his escape.
The book is a really quick read and you actually care about the
characters and start to sympathize with the "Worm" character. You
almost understand why the girls are helping him. The characters are the
lifeblood of this novel and Kirino fleshes out what seem to be
stereotypical Japanese students into something a little more.
This is ultimately a book about consequences. Actions and inactions
have consequences. The characters, still young, learn this throughout
the novel the hard way. Well, at least the female characters do.
This isn't a great book, but it is a good book. I haven't read any of
Kirino's other works so I don't have anything to base it on. The book
does have an edge to it and can get very dark in places. I would
suggest this book for high school age and up do to darkness and sexual
content.

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The Prestige

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 27, 2009 by Budd Black
The Prestige
Christopher Priest

A guy at work let me borrow this book because he knew that I would like it.  I read it on breaks and lunches when I stayed at my desk.  This book is very good.  I had seen the movie and thought that it would ruin the book for me but it doesn't.  The plots are quite different, go figure.  I would recommend this book to just about anyone. 

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The Culling

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 19, 2009 by Budd Black

We are rearranging some things in our house and it looks like there won't be limitless storage for my library or my comic book collection.  I have gone through and seperated all of the books that I want to keep.  Any book that I thought a friend would enjoy, I gave to them.  I will try and sell the rest of the books on Amazon or Craigslist.  I now have a little over 50% of the original pile.  My comics are a different story.  It will take a long time to go through them and then it is silly to remove books to sell because the current comic market isn't so hot.  I will probably want to keep anything worth any money anyways.  I will have to sell them in lots for cheap. 

I seriously need a bigger house with a room for just my stuff. 

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