January was a month where I burned through a ton of books. I’m not sure exactly why, but it worked out well. Many of them were not exactly long so it wasn’t a big thing to do, but it was a 6 book month and set the tone for the year.
Man In The Dark – Paul Auster – Oh Paul Auster how you keep breaking my heart recently. Reading Auster has become a chore when it used to be a pleasure. As I wrote elsewhere once, it seems he’s writing and pumping out books to finish out a contract. It’s got all the hallmarks of an Auster novel (the stories within stories, lines of reality and imagination blurred and the ever present idea of chance happenings), but it feels just so dialed in, and not with the spark I’ve missed since Book of Illusions.
My hope here is that he takes a bit of time off before the next one to recover his passion and his creativity that brought me to his work, and made him one of my favorite authors.
Visualizing Middle Earth – Michael Martinez – Ahh, the Tolkien nerd in me comes out. Here’s a great collection of essays written by a guy who knows more about Middle Earth and the Lord of the Rings than is probably good for you, but then again, the “Elvish” language is actually studied seriously by some linguists! Like so many people, I first discovered fantasy novels through Narnia and Middle Earth, and each time i get back into Tolkien’s books I find something more, a new depth, a new moment that I had missed earlier. He truly built a world and populated it, and gave it a history, and gave it’s peoples reasons for being where they were. This book was released before the movies, so it carries a bunch of movie speculation baggage, but the articles that focused on different aspects of the Tolkien world are quick, easy to read and really make sense out of the complex history he created.
The 39 Steps – John Buchanon – A very early “thriller” novel from the early part of the 1920′s I believe, it’s the story of a normal man who gets mixed up in a spy plot after an American spy is murdered in his apartment. It’s quick and short, but you can easily get swept up in it quickly and want to see where he’s chased to next, and who will betray who. It’s no hard task to see why Alfred Hitchcock picked up this and made a movie from it. It’s just the type of thriller he is so well known for.
Last Argument of Kings – Joe Abercrombie – Ah, one of my new favorite fantasy authors. Here Joe Abercombie finishes out his First Law trilogy with a really great ride. Abercrombie, who took genre staple characters in the first two books and fleshed them out and made them more alive than your typical novel, but also took their stories in new directions, holds nothing back by the end of the book, and while everything is resolved, it’s not the picture perfect ending. One of his great traits is creating sympathetic characters out of seeming villains, and villains out of those who you should connect with the easiest. Highly recommended
.Foundation – Issac Asimov – It’s probably my third or fourth time reading this book (I say possibly fourth, because looking through a box of old family photos I found one of me reading this book at a young age, but I have no memory of reading it way back then!), and it’s one of those quick easy early science fiction books that can be so great to read. Asimov’s genius doesn’t come from the quality of his writing, but from the incredible ideas and projections of where all of these new technologies of the day would take the human race. The Foundation series, along with his Robot series, are his two most well known fiction works. It’s a book I’d place on a cannon list of novels that should be read in Science Fiction.
And we end it with:
The Road – Cormac McCarthy – Good god this book hits you like a ton of bricks. I picked it up on hearing great things about his writing, and I must say that for his sparse style, he is a powerful, emotional writer. The story of a father and son trying to survive in an America of the near future that is a wasteland, it’s the story of them, their bond, their will to live and damn if every few pages I wanted to put down the book and go kiss my son on the head as he slept. The relationship between the boy and his father is powerfully told, and the struggles and heartaches of their journey do not allow you to stop the book at any point. In fact there is no easy stopping point in the book for a night, as there were no chapters! I am looking forward to the movie release of this book this fall.
All right, so February won’t have a post. I was (and still am because I took a break from it) working my way through a book on the American Revolutionary War, but by the end of February I needed a break and oops I haven’t returned to it yet. Next up – March!