Friday, April 27, 2007

Reading Like A Writer

Author: Francine Prose
Published: 2006

The subtitle of the book is "A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want To Write Them". Less a 'how-to' than a 'how-to-be-mindful', Prose stresses that rules and guidelines are often broken. Her examples lean heavily on the literary, and can be humbling (I've read that example sentence by Samuel Johnson five times and I still don't get it).

I expect, having read this, there will be some 'aha!' moments as I read the work of others. As in, 'Ah! Yes, the flow of the paragraphs, speeding up, slowing down, and that one line like a caught-up breath'. In a way, I've tried to avoid that, thinking it would reduce what I'm reading to more mechanical deconstuction. On the other hand, maybe I could learn something.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Author: Bruce Sterling
Published: 2000

I've had mixed results in reading Sterling. He co-wrote "The Difference Engine" which was okay, but not the earthshaking novel one might expect in collaboration with William Gibson.

Sterling's book "Distraction" suffered, in my opinion, from a right turn in the narrative that left me wondering, and wanting, a U-turn back to the main plot. Never happened.

"Zeitgeist" does a similar turn, but gets back on track, at least enough to have a satisfactory ending. It also has a few laugh out loud moments, all the more surprising and enjoyable as I just didn't expect them based on Sterling's prior work. A good book, and a tip of the hat for his very creepy-prescient mention of the Taliban andOsama bin Laden. Maybe he missed with the rest of the buckshot but boy, did he nail that one.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Lifehacker: the book

Author: Gina Trapani
Published: 2007

The subtitle is "88 Tech Tricks to Turbocharge Your Day". This is the kind of library book I can't resist when it appears in the new releases section. It's a double whammy because it covers tech stuff designed to better manage one's time. Nevermind that most of it I'll never use, and half of it won't work on my aging computer. But I find it fun to read.

The book's website has a lot of links to the Lifehacker site (I guess you could just go there as well) where many of the tips can be found.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Author: Jon Armstrong
Published: 2007

The debut novel by Jon Armstrong, Grey is something else. It's Neuromancer in an Armani suit. It's Romeo and Juliet wrapped in a Clockwork Orange. It's about the ultra-wealthy, the ultra-violent, and the ultra-chic.

I can't wait for Armstrong's next book.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Take Joy

Author: Jane Yolen
Published: 2003

A book about writing by a prolific writer. Best read in small doses; not a primer or a how-to as much as a collection of best-practice and this-works-for-me (Jane, not me).

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Old Man's War

Author: John Scalzi
Published: 2005

After reading the book it is clear why it is popular. Old time space opera with a modern feel and sense of humor. Solid writing joins very good pacing and a knack for twisting what might be mundane (e.g. the names the characters give their BrainPals). Did I mention humor? One particularly nasty culinary alien species with a taste for humans is given a name that brings to mind a currently popular, perky, female who has many cookbooks and cooking shows.

More interesting was how I read the book. The text is in first person, for the most part past-tense. This is what I'm using in my current novel project. However, the text does go into present tense on occasion, notably in the very beginning and end, but also here and there where a description is needed to imply ongoing action or semi-permanence (not the best description, I realize). It would be interesting to go through the book and find all the instances of each tense. All it takes is time...

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Busting Vegas

Author: Ben Mezrich
Published: 2005

Enjoyable detour into non-fiction. A quick read (quick for me anyways, which means a few days), interesting view into gambling, casinos, and a group of MIT students who found a way to win a lot of money at blackjack.

Sunday, April 1, 2007


Author: Terry Pratchett
Published: 1997

A nice tonic (with djinn) after more serious fare. The residents of Discworld are off to war, some with more enthusiasm than others. This is the fourth book I've read by Pratchett, all of them consistently entertaining.