What I've been reading.....
| Reading List 2001
| Reading List 2002
| Reading List 2003
| Reading List 2004
| Reading List 2005
| Reading List 2006
| Reading List 2007
| Reading List 2008
| Reading List 2009
| Reading List 2010
| Reading List 2011
| Reading List 2012
| Reading List 2013
| Reading List 2014
| Reading List 2015
| Reading List 2016
| Reading List 2017
| Reading List 2018
| Reading List 2019
| Reading List 2020
|Reading List 2021|
Reflections in a Looking Glass: Centennial Celebration of Lewis Carroll, Photographer ~ Morton Cohen (1998) photos (144pgs)
Fine collection of photos of Carroll, some truly beautiful images, and good analysis of it all in the text
M.C. Escher ~ Sandra Forty (2003) art (96 pgs)
An over sized collection of beautiful reproductions of artwork, with examples over his entire creative career, along with fine short biographical notes.
Fish Tank Sonata ~ Arthur Tress (200) art, photography, poetry (140 pgs)
Has a nifty slip-case presentation package, and I liked the idea of the old fish tank filled with odd flea-market gee-gaws being photographed at different locales, and yet.... it just doesn't click. Seemed too self-consciously "important" in the text, and many of the tableau's are just "there". A couple of nice shots, but overall, give this one a pass.
The Beast That God Forgot to Invent ~ Jim Harrison (2000) fiction, novellas (274 pgs)
Three stories of interesting style and with moments of enjoyment. But overall too much ado about nothing. It's a big question of Life, etc, but who cares- though the middle story with the Indian had more good moments than the rest.
Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons ~ Anderson, Carrel & Ward (2003) art, fantasy (32 pgs)
Wonderful book on the history and physiology of dragons, designed with lots of tip-ins, envelopes, glass eyes, and a cool graphic format from a group of highly imaginative artists.
Robota ~ Doug Chiang & Orson Scott Card (2003) sf, art (176 pgs)
A disappointment. Large number of illustrations wrapped around what is barely a short story, and written more on the level of a simple kids adventure book, a basic sf story, yawn. Some of the graphics are striking, especially the imaginative architecture, from an artist who was a concept designer on the Star Wars films. So, some nice pics, but not much else.
Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon ~ Donna Andrews (2003) novel, mystery (297 pgs)
A lot of goofy characters in this murder at a gaming company story. A fun read, but hard to take the core murder seriously with the funny aspect of everything else in here. But then, the fun part is the real point of the book.
The Yokota Officers Club ~ Sarah Bird (2001) novel, fiction (366 pgs)
A great novel, it has Bird's wonderful touch with character and humor, but also deeper layers, especially in the explortion of the relationships of Americans and Japanese after World War II, that make this a truly excellent book.
The Tibetan Book of the Dead ~ W.Y. Evans-Wentz (3rd edition-1960) religion (333 pgs)
This one reads like a sci-fi fantasy world-building handbook. Author seems to be telling me that these long lists of people, places and things are just symbols, not to be taken as literally existing. However, in the end no conversion here, still an atheist.
The Rise and Fall of American Humor ~ Jesse Bier (1968) history (526 pgs)
It gets just a little dense in the scholarly analysis at times (writing about humor is like dancing about architecture?), but over all it is a fascinating look at humor writing and performing in the history of the U.S.
Dating Big Bird ~ Laura Zigman (2001) novel (246 pgs)
Disappointing second novel from the author of the funny "Animal Husbandry". Has only a moment or two of wit, mostly a semi-weeper about wanting to have a baby. sigh
Borges: A Reader ~ Jorge Luis Borges (editors: Monegal & Reid) (1981) stories and essays (369 pgs)
Selection of over 100 short pieces from his over 80 years of creativity (up to the publication of this book) Fascinating as always, along with helpful historical and biographical notes from the editors to place the works in a broader context.
Possessing Genius ~ Carolyn Abraham (2001) history, science (388 pgs)
Subtitled: "The Bizarre Odyssey of Einstein's Brain", this is a page-turner read, proving again that truth will always be stranger than fiction. What a story, with an ending that seems more than appropriate to the entire weird tale.
The Wooden Sea ~ Jonathan Carroll (2001) novel, fantasy (302 pgs)
I've felt previous Carroll books I've read were close to brilliant, so I was a little disappointed with this one, where a bunch of odd events happen with no real rhyme or reason, seemingly weird for it's own sake, and a weak ending. Not one of his best!
Herbert Binns & The Flying Tricycle~Caroline Castle(w) Peter Weeven(a) (1997) children's pic book(30)
Lovely paintings grace a surprisingly simple story, even for a children's book!
The Paper Bag Prince ~ Colin Thompson (w/a) (?) children's picture book (32 pgs)
Hugely detailed ink and wash drawings that you can spend hours going over, it's the story story of an old man living in a dump, and has a wonderful twist to the plot to end it all.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame ~ Victor Hugo (1831) novel (498 pgs)
Another classic caught up on. Rough going at some points, with long passages that might have had satirical impact in their day, but without the historical context, I got lost. Also heavily melodramatic in the characters. But the core of the story was very effective, and the no-one-is-happy ending was a surprise after all the Hollywood rewrites I've seen.
Cinderella's Gold Slipper ~ Samuel Denis Fohr (1991) literature and spiriftualism (223 pgs)
sigh. A book of pure academia wanking off. Author slags off interpretations of the Grimm's Tales by other writers so that he can present his own spiritual ones as if they (a) make better sense, or (b) actually have any relationship at all beyond his artificially sticking his own ideas on it all. Have nightmares of this being a college class students got stuck in!
The Thread: A Mathematical Yarn ~ Philip J. Davis (1983) science, history (124 pgs)
Great to have picked this one at random after the previous book. This is the fascinating story of one scientists obsession with learning for it's own sake, the tracking down of facts, and attaining of true knowledge, not a second-hand "interpretation" to fit some pre-set ideas. . Clean, direct, fun read. good stuff.
Bored to Death ~ Michael Delving (1975) novel, mystery (179 pgs)
Picked this up based purely on the title, didn't have any clue what it was actually about. Turns out to be a nice little murder mystery, not a classic, but an enjoyable read for a few hours of entertainment.
Miss Hindy's Cats ~ Helena Clare Pittman (w/a) (1990) children's picture book (32 pgs)
While the interior art doesn't live up to the cover piece, this is a lovely story of a lady accumulating a house full of cats, one letter of the alphabet at a time, and a cute little twist ending.
The Maid and the Mouse and the Odd-Shaped House ~Paul Zelinsky (1981) children's pic book (32pgs)
A wonderfully original idea, adapted by Zelinski from a rhyming story written in a schoolteacher's notebook from 1897. The eccentric art style is perfect for this great, unique book.
Up A Tree ~ Ed Young (w/a) (1983) children's picture book (26 pgs)
The Other Bone ~ Ed Young (w/a) (1984) children's picture book (30 pgs)
Both these are wordless tales, one of a cat, the other a dog, by an artist with a great eye for how cats and dogs really and truly move and react. I liked the cat book in particular for the overall style and execution.
You've Got Murder ~ Donna Andrews (2002) novel, mystery (298 pgs)
Great idea for a mystery, using an A.I. computer to solve the crime. Full of good ideas and execution throughout. A great read.
Rosie and the Rustlers ~ Ray Gerrard (w/a) (1989) children's picture book (32 pgs)
Another beautiful ink and wash book from Gerrard, this time applying his unique and beautiful humor work to a tale of the wild west. Would love to have a complete collection of all Gerrard's books.
Neither Here Nor There ~ Bill Bryson (1992) travel (225 pgs) -RE-READ-
Originally read this a number of years ago, then got this copy as a gift, and decided you can never go wrong re-reading Bryson. Has a seeming love/hate relationship with traveling, told with great style, wit and humor.
Heroics for Beginners ~ John Moore (2004) novel, fantasy, humor (246 pgs)
Hilarious take on the classic cliches of fantasy heroes and villains. The image of the bad guy using an evil gesture that is referred to as "Milking the giant cow" will be with me forever!
Death is a Lonely Business ~ Ray Bradbury (1985) novel, mystery (271 pgs)
A later novel from one of my personal A.B.C. of science fiction, still strong in the almost poetic language and visuals, it's a great mix of eccentric characters, and an interesting mystery tale to boot.
Bad Cat ~ Jim Edgar (2004) humor, photos (246 pgs)
From the folks at mycathatesyou.com, I was almost in pain from laughing at these bizarre cat photos and hilarious captions.
The Clothes They Stood Up In / The Lady in the Van ~ Alan Bennett (1994,1996) novels, humor (224 ps)
Two short tales, full of dry wit about folks in difficult situations. The first is a totally fictional piece and interesting to read, but the second is based on a true person, and much more fascinating. Truth is stranger than fiction?
The Art of Discworld ~ Paul Kidby (a) Terry Pratchett (w) (2004) fantasy art, (128 pgs)
Great combination of the art of Kidby, along with Pratchett's commentary on the creative origins of the various characters.And, unlike many illustrators, Kidby's portraits here really are individual, character-full images.
If At First You Do Not See ~ Ruth Brown (w/a) (1982) children's picture book (26 pgs)
Wonderful picture book, where a caterpillar out exploring the world comes on strange creatures that change even further when you turn the book upside down. Great design.
More Bunny Trouble ~ Hans Wilhelm (w/a) (1987) children's picture book (28 pgs)
Cute little story of a lost bunny. It's not going to win any awards, but a nice little book.
The Seed ~ Isabel Pin (w/a) (2001) children's picture book (26 pgs)
A simple idea, but the unique art style makes this stand out a bit more from the crowd of kid's books.
Lily and the Bears ~ Christine Ross (w/a) (1989) children's picture book (24 pgs)
Nice pen and wash illos, if a little light, and an odd little tale of a girl who likes to dress up as a bear. I expected more from this one, though it does have a couple of fun moments.
Fantastic Alice ~ Margaret Weis (ed) (1993) anthology, fantasy (291 pgs)
17 authors do new takes on characters and themes from "Alice in Wonderland" Standouts are by Connie Hirsch, who takes the craziness to a David Lynch road trip level; Esther Friesner, who wraps it up in a Bradbury type of way; and the strongest is Peter Crowther's tale that works in a bit of aspects of the tales, of Carroll's personal and mathematical life, all in a great framing story.
Jumper ~ Steven Gould (1992) novel, science fiction (345 pgs)
A great "What If" book, where a guy discovers he has the power to teleport himself, and the story progresses as he explores what he can do with this power. A real page turner, could have been the start of a fascinating series.
Looking-Glass Letters ~ Lewis Carroll [Thomsas Hinde (ed)] (1992) history, literature (160 pgs)
Selected letters by Carroll, along with commentary to set them in the context of his life. Gives a whole different look at this extraordinarily creative writer.
Escher on Escher: Exploring the Infinite ~ M.C. Escher (1986) art, theory (158 pgs)
The complete text of various articles Escher wrote on his work, plus the full text with images of a slide-show presentation he had prepared but never delivered. Excellent, finally hearing from the artist himself on his incredible, unique work.
A Cartoon History of Architecture ~ Osbert Lancaster (1978) history, architecture, humor, cartoons (205 pgs)
Incredibly in-depth and dryly humorous look at architecture. Concentrates on England, with some work from America and Europe thrown in. Would love to see this artist tackle world architecture with the same style and wit.
Patron of the Arts ~ William Rotsler (1974) novel, sf (210 pgs)
I went into this wanting to like it for Bill's sake, the solidarity of the fan artists, etc. But, while certainly not a bad read, I think the perfection of the narrator got to me after a while. In the end, not something I'd ever re-red.
The End of the Empire ~ Alexis A. Gilliland (1987) novel, sf (170 pgs)
Another fan artist turned novelist, this shows his deep interest in political systems, but since he was building his own complex system here, I found I didn't understand it all, and didn't care, finally, about how it all ended up
City of Truth ~ James Morrow (1990) novel (well, novella) science fiction (104 pgs)
Wonderful "What If" tale of a civilization which really and truly cannot tell a lie, and the underground movement that fights it, centering on a father's wish to tell his dying son a "loving lie". More excellent work from Morrow.
Project Pope ~ Clifford D. Simak (1981) novel, science fiction (311 pgs)
Interesting story of a planet of robots attempting to gather all knowledge, to construct the ultimate pope. I felt it could have delved more deeply into basic questions of faith, and there is an odd undercurrent of sf-bigotry in how all the non-human characters are treated.
Nobody's Perfect ~ Donald E. Westlake (1977) novel, fiction, humor (285 pgs)
Another great Westlake caper novel, the same characters from "Hot Rock", etc. I love these fun books he does.
American Gods ~ Neil Gaiman (2001) novel, fantasy (592 pgs)
Has a great hook, the old European gods brought to the U.S. in the minds of immigrants are now being slowly forgotten, and are set to fight the new gods of television, etc. A page turner for sure, but I wish he'd gotten more into the ideas of faith, bringing those old gods up against present-day religion, rather than "new" weird gods.
The Power of One ~ Bryce Courtenay (1989) novel (518 pgs)
A striking, powerful novel, with points to make on individual achievement and the evils and stupidity of racism. One passage actually had me weeping, and few books have touched me like that. Fantastic.
Sole Survivor: Destroyer #72~"created by" Warren Murphy & Richard Sapir (1988) novel (222 pgs)
sigh. I recall this series as being a great fun read when it started up in the '70s. Found this one and thought I'd try it again. Woo, how the mighty have fallen. I don't know who the hack is they hired to write this (and idiot editor as well) but full of amazing technical errors, heavy-handed so-called 'satire", and the lead character has somehow become a one-dimensional moron (Of course, all the characters here seem to be one-dimensional morons) so sad.....
The Haunted Bookshop ~ Christopher Morley (1919) novel, mystery (289 pgs)
The mystery here is just an excuse to talk about books, and some asides on the evil of war, delivered just before the first big one broke out on the world. Most interesting now was to read about the everyday life of almost a century ago, such as the 25 minute wait to get a long-distance phone connection from Philadelphia to New York City.
Smell: The Secret Seducer ~ Piet Vroon (1994) nonfiction, science & biology (195 pgs)
A look at the least understood sense. It can often get deep into theory at time, but lots of interesting tidbits throughout
Santiago: A Myth of the Far Future ~ Mike Resnick (1986) novel, science fiction (376 pgs)
Good characters in the classic western-in-outer-space style of story, with a touch of the Dread Pirate Roberts tossed in for good measure. A fun page-turner adventure novel.
Life of Pi ~ Yann Martel (2001) novel (326 pgs)
Fascinating story of survival at sea, with a grand "twist" ending that really made me sit up straight. A great read.
The Sweet Potato Queens' Book of Love ~ Jill Conner Brown (1999) humor (213 pgs)
Funny true tale with much embellishment of a group of women who, basically, dress like female impersonators and have a lot of fun. Not to be taken seriously, just grinned at.
The Trouble With Testosterone ~ Robert Sapolsky (1997) essays, science (288 pgs)
Great book of science writing for the masses, all of it was interesting, but the final piece on O.C.D., schizophrenia and religion is truly great and something I'd love to be able to quote from, save for my horrid memory.
The Night the Bear Ate Goombow ~ Patrick F. McManus (1989) essays, humor (184 pgs)
Humor built around outdoor life, fishing & hunting. Not something I've had much experience in, but funny none the same.
The Traveler: A Magical Journey~ Daniel Schallau(a) James Keller(w) (1997) children's pic book (32 pgs)
Intensely detailed pen & ink with wash illos of the journey of a young man in a fantastic world. Such detail, in fact, that I' m not sure how much reduced from the original this is, as at times it's almost difficult to see all the detail on some pages!
Summerland ~ Michael Chabon (2002) novel, fantasy (500 pgs)
Incredible tale of the adventures of three kids and their strange friends to save the universe from total destruction. This is kind of an American "Lord of the Rings", combining all sorts of modern myths and fairy stories into a core baseball-as-life metaphor and theme. A great, unique read.
Another Round At the Spaceport Bar ~ George Scithers, Darrell Schweitzer (eds) (1989) short stories, sf (248 pgs)
18 shorts of tales told in bars, with a skiffy twist. Some pedestrian stories, a couple of clever ones, all-in-all a nice read.
Moo ~ Jane Smiley (1995) novel (414 pgs)
Huge cast of characters at a Midwest university, lots of good moments, though I was sometimes lost in all the names.
Rod Serling's Triple W: Witches, Warlocks and Werewolves ~ Rod Serling (ed) (1963) short stories sf, fantasy (181 pgs)
Eleven shorts, old and new, in three parts as per the cover title. Usual mix of tales that are "just there" and some pretty good ones. Bruce Elliott's "Wolves don't Cry" was a nice reversal on the usual werewolf theme.
Night of the Jabberwock ~ Fredric Brown (1951) novel, mystery (139 pgs)
Had to pick this up with that title! A fine little mystery story with lots of clever twists & turns, from an obvious Carroll fan.
Captains Outrageous ~ Joe R. Lansdale (2001) novel, fiction (319 pgs)
New Hap & Leonard novel, and another page-turner from Joe. A fun read, though not one of his best. But even a weak Lansdale novel is still better than the best of many other writers!
Skinny Annie Blues ~ Neal Barrett Jr (1996) novel, mystery (250 pgs)
Fast paced novel with lots of nicely odd characters, but the lead is so stupid, the only thing that makes the plot advance is his making idiotic, senseless moves again and again. An irritating guy, to be sure.
Portrait of the Walrus by a Young Artist ~ Laurie Foos (1997) novel (171 pgs)
Felt this should have been better than it was, but too serious about it's weirdness to be funny. I've a haunting suspicion this is not a satire on bad art. The author is fixated on underwear, and has a totally wrong idea of "artistic genius."
Dugan Under Ground ~ Tom de Haven (2001) noel, fiction (286 pgs)
Wrap-up of his trilogy of cartoon novels, getting into the underground of the sixties and on in to today. Interesting to read, knowing the historical background he is writing in. Relentlessly, depressive, downer characters, but I guess that is what makes it serious enough to write about something as "slight" as "mere" cartooning. (Am I bitter?)
Backlash-Undeclared War Against American Women ~ Susan Faludi (1991) feminism, society (552 pgs)
An amazing look at the woman's movement, and the reactions against it., concentrating on the eighties. Thought going in it might be over-reacting, but makes a lot of strong points, using really deep research to back it all up.
Carpool ~ Mary Cahill (1991) novel, mystery (258 pgs)
Not as good as I expected it to be, too many small plot threads to keep track of around the main mystery core. Okay, but forgettable when it is all over.
Dancing Aztecs ~ Donald E. Westlake (1976) novel, mystery (318 pgs)
More hilarious writing from Westlake, and for once a novel with a huge cast of characters didn't lose me in the crowd. A wonderful style, hard to put down at any point. A bit dated on the dialogue for the black characters, but otherwise, wow.
Dead on the Island ~ Bill Crider (1991) novel, mystery (192 pgs)
So soon after reading "Skinny Annie Blues" last month, picked up this one and find Bill has also set all the action in Galveston. Not an earthshaking novel, just a good basic mystery tale.
Once Upon A Time.... ~ Reading is Fundamental (1986) children's literature (64 pgs)
Dozen's of children's book authors and artists contributed to this collection, with stories and art built around their memories of when, as kids, they first felt the love of books really take hold.
Pictures At An Exhibition ~ Ian Watson (ed) (1981) short stories, sf ( 168 pgs)
Writers do stories based around the body of artwork produced by a particular artist, like Magritte, Dürer, Dali, Munch...and Frazetta! Success of the pieces depends heavily on familiarity of the reader with the works of the artist. A mixed bag.
High Adventure ~ Cynthia Manson, Charles Ardai (ed) (1992) fiction, short stories (593 pgs)
Action-adventure tales from a wide range of authors, including Conan Doyle, Poe, Fleming, Burroughs and Kipling, plus contemporary writers. Quite a mix, lots of fun with so many ideas and approaches.
The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases ~ Jeff Vandermeer & Mark Roberts (ed) (2003) humor, parody (298 pgs)
Picked this up as a gift for Natalie, turns out to be a great read from a large group of contributors, parodying medical guides and even a couple of literary styles. A very unique project, to be sure.
Laughin' Boy ~ Bradley Denton (2005) novel, fiction (286 pgs)
Great novel, considering the reactions of "the crowd" to horrible events. Both shocking and funny, with a great literary take on the present multi-media approach to information gathering. Great.
The Two-Bear Mambo ~ Joe R. Lansdale (1995) novel (273 pgs)
Hap & Leonard are up against a town of racists, resulting in much kicking of ass, and the getting of ass kicked, as the guys try to do the right thing again.
Rumble Tumble ~ Joe. R. Lansdale (1998) novel (242 pgs)
Another great Hap & Leonard adventure, this time all over the South to rescue the daughter of Hap's lady from a life of prostitution, with a "team" of some very strange hanger-ons. More great writing from Joe.
Inkheart ~ Cornelia Funke (2003) novel, fantasy ( 534 pgs)
Young adult fantasy novel, much more based in the real world than the usual fantasy adventure. I liked the focus on books, and had some nice moments. A good read, but in the end, not one I would probably go back to.
The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil ~ George Saunders (2005) novel, political satire ( 130 pgs)
A wonderfully odd fable of government and politics, with Bush-like leaders gone amok. Different than anything else I've ever read, with matching bizarre illustrations. Way cool, this is a keeper.
Jonny Magic and the Card Shark Kids ~ David Kushner (2005) nonfiction, history, society (217 pgs)
Follows the story of one guy through the dawn of gaming cards, and the rise of poker as a spectator sport. A constantly fascinating read of a guy going from geek to star, in the almost underground worlds of so many things.
How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered the World: A Short History of Modern Delusions ~ Francis Wheen (2004) history (327 pgs)
I love this book. Wheens nails every crazy bit of off-kilter thinking in politics, religion, money, medicine, relationships, etc. This is great, great reading, good logical and skeptical thinking about so many things that screw up this world.
Skipping Towards Gomorrah ~ Dan Savage (2002) sociology, morality, humor ( 302 pgs)
A great book to read as a follow-up to the previous title. Savage tries his hand at all of the "seven deadly sins" in America, and ends up with a level-headed approach to having "morals" shoved down our throats. Funny as hell, too.
The Rescue Artist ~ Edward Dolnick (2005) nonfiction, history, art (252 pgs)
Story of the recovery of the stolen Munch painting "The Scream", plus a look at the whole world of art theft. Fascinating.
Everybody Smokes in Hell ~ John Ridley (1999) novel, fiction (231 ps)
Great, bloody-as-hell novel, kind of a Wodehouse-noir, with all the misunderstandings and mix ups, though unlike Wode,. This leads to much pain and death. A real page turner, would make one hell of a gripping film
If I Had a Robot ~ Dan Yaccarino (w/a) children's picture book (32 pgs)
Cute, very much a little kid's book. Simple art, but had to get this for my robot collection.
Weird Parents ~Audrey Wood (w/a) (1990) children's picture book (32 pgs)
Funny story, as kid learns to accept his weird and loving parents for what they are.
The Dark at the Top of the Stairs ~ Sam McBratney(w) Ivan Bates(a) (1996) children's pic book (32 pgs)
A family of mice in the basement decide they want to explore the spooky dark area at the top of the stairs. Fun.
The Snow Child ~ Freya Littledale (w) Barbara Lavallee (a) (1989) children's picture book (28 pgs)
A very tiny booklet, re-telling of an old Russian folktale, lovely artwork.
Bumper Crop ~ Joe R. Lansdale (2004) fiction, short stories (200 pgs)
Wonderful collection of a number of Joe's shorter pieces, and all with interesting personal notes to introduce them. Evidently popcorn and sleep are major sources of inspiration to his ownself.
The Pythons: Autobiography by the Pythons ~ Cleese, Gilliam, Palin, Idle, Jones, Chapman (2003) film, history (360 pgs)
Huge, definitive story of Monty Python, from the individual lifes up to getting together, through the run of the TV show, and on into the movies, all from the guys who should know it the best.
The Adventures of God in His Search for the Black Girl~ Brigid Brophy(1973) fiction,short stories (224p)
Fascinating reading, especially the title piece, almost a novel in itself, where she managed to nail the existence (or not) of God with both wit and humor, among so many other subjects This is good stuff, and a keeper for sure.
Let's Put the Future Behind Us ~ Jack Womack (1996) novel, fiction (310 pgs)
After the fall of Communism, the new Russia is an old-fashioned blend of wild-west meets Chicago mobs, and this novel jumps you into the middle of it all. Funny, sad, shocking, glad I found this one on the shelf.
Foreign Babes in Beijing ~ Rachel DeWoskin (2005) Non-fiction, culture, society (332 pgs)
Adventures of an American in china in the '90s, ending up on a popular Chinese soap opera, and all the individual points of conflict and confusion when two very different cultures come together. Fascinating.
The Magic Wagon ~ Joe R. Lansdale (1986) novel, fiction (155 pgs)
Wild doings in Texas, as the so-called son of Wild Bill Hickok and a group of strange travelling companions in a low-class medicine show comes to a bad end. Joe always does it the best.
X Out of Wonderland ~ David Allen Cates (2001) novel, fiction, satire (141 pgs)
I really wanted to like this one more when I finished it. A satire of all things market-driven, full of fine ideas and comic moments, wildly inventive at times, but somehow awkwardly done as a whole.
Medieval Epics: Beowulf, The Song of Roland, The Nibelungenlied, The Cid
~ Alfred, Merwin, Mustard (trans)(1963) novels (600 pgs)
Okay, so now I've read the epics at last. A bit (no, a lot) over the top in the heroes-of-all-heroes style, and the story of Siegfried and his family of royal snobs was the perfect example of the old "thousands must die because my honor was besmirched" nonsense. Things have changed since these came out, and I believe they now serve as good examples how not to act!
Snow Falling on Cedars ~ David Guterson (1995) novel, fiction (460 pgs)
A courtroom story intercut with the personal life's of the characters, around the framework of a murder trial. A very good read, as I kept wondering how the author would wrap it all up to the very end.
Dead in the West ~ Joe R. Lansdale (1986) novel, horror (148 pgs)
Early "classic" Lansdale, a twisted western tale where you just stir in some undead to the mix.
Sunset and Sawdust ~ Joe R. Lansdale (2004) novel, mystery (321 pgs)
Eighteen years since the previous book, and Joe's work is deeper and more real, with this character-driven mystery, violent and gritty and a great read.
Bleak House ~ Charles Dickens (1853) novel (595 pgs)
Classic Dickens tale of loss and redemption, shame and honor, with a surprising amount of humor, both dark and light.Some dense writing to slog through at times, but lots of nuggets to be mined from it all.
Bring Home the Bacon & Cutting the Mustard ~ no author listed (2000) words, history, food (191 pgs)
The origins and meanings of food-related phrases, a fun book to browse through.
Dreamtigers ~ Jorge Luis Borges (1964) essays, poetry (95 pgs)
Many ultra-shorts from Borges. Not as strong as some of his other collections, though a few standout thoughts & images.
Mutts: The Comic Art of Patrick McDonnell (2003) art, comics (216 pgs)
More than just a collection of strips, this gets into the whys and hows of his art, influences and history. A great collection for a great comic strip.
The Pill, Pygmy Chimps, and Degas' Horse ~ Carl Djerassi (1992) autobiography, science (307 pgs)
Autobiography of the scientist who helped to develop the birth control pill, and the quite fascinating and far-ranging life he has led. Another of those people who do more than fifty other "normal" people combined.
Figures of Speech ~ Mervyn Peake (1954) art, humor ( 64 pgs)
A fun little book by the great Peake, where he came up with drawings to illustrated figures of speech. ie, the cover has a smiling man carrying a bear on his back, to illustrate the phrase "Grin and bear it".
The Mysterious Stranger ~ Mark Twain (1916) fiction, belief (121 pgs)
Dark tale by Twain of Satan showing up in a village. Pretty much blows away any idea of supernatural goodness, or even of existence.Not the Twain of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, freaking great dark stuff.
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