Thursday, January 2, 2014

Rants, Dismissals, and the occasional ray of sunshine from my 66 books of 2013

2013 is over and I made two thirds of my goal of 100 books.  A few random thoughts followed by some lists:

There were two books in particular that were mind numbingly awful:
1) Lando Calrissean and the Mind whattt?  I figured this would be pretty much dreck, but thought some good campy fun about one of the least explored characters of the original trilogy would have some merit.  WRONG.  Terrible in so many ways.  Bland writing, interchangeable characters and most galling, a contrite, almost apologetic Lando with no balls of any kind.  Horrible, horrible, horrible.
2) The Warlord of Air by Michael Moorcock. Great name for a gay porn star, but what a dreadful sci fi.  Started promising, ended in polemic.  Some dickhead said that it was the best sci fi/fantasy since Tolkien. If you like your socialism served in heaping doses of preachy prose without the benefit of any real thought, then this is the book for you.  RAAALPHH.
Award for "Not ALL Books by Revered Author are Classics" Award:
The Simulacra by Philip K. Dick. Interesting title, but wow, boring, boring boring. I guess when you write as much as Dick, there's bound to be a clunker, but I would have thought his clunkers would be better than other's best, which, isn't really true. Just lame.

Award for "I Never Knew Hitchcock was Such a Pussy":
Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith. Seriously, read this book, then get the Hitchcock movie. I always thought the movie was a high point of film noir with an incredibly well played psycho at the heart of it. But the book is on a different level entirely. Some moments drag a bit as one of the central characters spends too much time wrestling with their conscience, but, wow, talk about a psychological thriller. After The Talented Mr. Ripley and this book, I believe that Highsmith is the most under appreciated author from the 20th century. She may not have delved into the American experience like Steinbeck or Fitzgerald, but her creations represented the beginning of the sociopath as antihero that still dominates our entertainment culture. Plus, her writing digs deep into guilt and loss and friendship and so many other themes in such a uniquely twisted way. I'm not sure why she doesn't get enough run as a great author, but I enjoy her works tremendously.

The "Holy Shit, Did I Just Read That Award":
My readings have been fairly off the beaten path so there are a few candidates for one of my favorite awards. Honorable mention goes to Parliament of Crows which was so well done about three mystifying women and Prince/King of Thorns which put the "Dark" in dark fantasy, but the hands down winner was A Plague of Wolves and Women. It's almost an indescribably brutal nightmare told from the most nonplussed narrator. I mean, what happens is horrifying in every sense and no one is safe. But somehow, it's not awful to read, though it should be. I even gave it to my mom, thinking there was no way she'd finish it, but she actually liked it. Weird.

More coming soon....

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