Wednesday, August 6, 2008

New Address

Apologies. This blog is no longer active. Posts have been moved to my main site

Sorry for any inconvenience.


Friday, December 28, 2007


Author: Frank Herbert
Published: 1965

I love this book. Every time I read it, I realize what I missed before, what I didn't remember, and what I learn anew. The world Herbert created is just fantastic, insanely detailed.

I love my copy of this book. Original paperback. In time it will fall apart. I should treat myself to a nice hardcover version; then again I would miss holding it close while reading, like my very own copy of the OC Bible.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

American Gods

Author: Neil Gaiman
Published: 2001

Excellent novel. The conceit of gods being brought to America by the immigrants from around the world is done perfectly. I continue to be amazed by how well this English bloke portrays American characters and the landscape and culture of the U.S.

I must address an issue as it was raised in the other blog and for better or worse stuck in my mind as I read American Gods. Is this a better book than Anansi Boys? I'm going to punt and say it is a different book.

In my humble opinion (I don't claim to be very good at analyzing or even reviewing books) Anansi Boys was a much lighter tale. Intended or not by the author, it seemed to have a lot more humor and, despite the dangerous situation one of the boys finds himself in near the end, I never felt like any of the characters faced serious threats at any time.

In American Gods, however, the entire enterprise seemed very grave. There was a point maybe mid-way through the novel when I thought not only may all of these 'good guys' wind up dead, they may even lose! The tension is maintained from beginning to end.

Hard for me to say, therefore, that one was better than the other since I enjoyed reading both of them but for different reasons.

I will risk wading into analytical waters. I think from a technical perspective, Anansi Boys is better written. This shouldn't be too controversial, the novel is four years removed from American Gods after all.

The earlier book seemed to have a lot of passive sentences in the early going. There were also a lot of actions by characters that seemed to just take up space rather than move the story along or better defining the characters. At one point I wondered how many more times Odin was going to excuse himself to use the bathroom. Maybe I'm missing something in those moments but I found myself thinking "Okay, let's move along now."

But these are minor points. American Gods is an excellent read.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Against The Day

Author: Thomas Pynchon
Published: 2006

The man can write, no question. After over a year of stalking then slogging through the latest by Pynchon, I have to cry 'Uncle'. I made it through about 325 pages, but to quote the famous line from Engineer Scotty: "I canna take na more!"

Beautiful prose, incredibly researched. The tipping point came on a paragraph describing the steeple of a church in some remote, Colorado town at the turn of the 20th century where one of the characters was getting married. An entire paragraph on the steeple. I got the sense that Pynchon not only could clearly see that steeple but probably knew how the paint was made and had background notes regarding the life of the backstage character who cut down the tree for the freakin' wood!

Beautiful. Exhausting. I give. Maybe I'll finish it some later time in my life.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Anansi Boys

Author: Neil Gaiman
Published: 2005

From published reports and reviews, I expected no less than perfection. Expectations were met.

As I predicted, Gaiman is the kind of author who makes me want to give up writing because there is just no point, is there? My efforts will fall short and besides he's here on earth, writing these things which means that people need not seek out more entertaining, witty, hilarious works because such works don't exist.

On the other hand, as one can tell from the Wikipedia entry, Mr. Gaiman is a renaissance-dude multimedia rock star. It's like trying to compare one's 21st century made for late-night television infomercial handy gadget with the efforts of Da Vinci.

Best not to think about it and just continue on one's way.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Housing The Airship

Author: Architectural Association
Published: 1989

Very nice oversized book with beautiful photos and diagrams. The features of sheds, the term used for constructing and housing airships, are described in detail.

The styles varied widely within and between countries as engineers explored different functional ways to contain the mammoth dirigibles. The photos, many full and two-page, all in black and white, show the scale of these enormous vehicles.

Very cool.

Friday, October 5, 2007

How We Talk

Author: Allan Metcalf
Published: 2000

Covering accents and curious local terms, Metcalf conducts a tour of the U.S., region by region. Also has a section on ethnic accents and slang, and also how well, or poorly, accents are portrayed in the movies.

Among the interesting facts, I learned why nearby Woods Hole is called a hole (term for a bay or channel), what Southerners mean by butter bean, and how the milk shake got the name 'kabinet' in Rhode Island (just be sure to ask for a frappe in Massachusetts if you want ice cream in it).