Monday, June 27, 2005

I polished off three Torey Hayden books this weekend: Murphy's Boy, One Child, and its sequel Tiger's Child. Man, people do some really fucked up things to kids. That's pretty much my summary and reaction to all three. I've got two more of her books to go, but I think I need a break. These are just too emotionally draining and I don't want to be totally depressed in Toronto.


Friday, June 24, 2005

Aww, crap. I just wrote a whole post on Cut and Run by Ridley Pearson and it got eaten. I had a brief thought that maybe I should copy it right as I hit refresh and yep, sure enough, it disappeared. Oh well.

Let's see... Cut and Run is one of Pearson's stand alone books, although it's fun to see LaMoia from his long-running Lou Boldt series make a cameo toward the end. The plot is nothing new: missing computer files, kidnapped kid, solo agent, beautiful woman. But Pearson makes it feel fresh and compelling with some great tension filled action sequences. He's one of the best mystery/thriller writers out there and this book is a good example of why that is. That was about the gist of it. Enough for a Friday afternoon anyway.


Monday, June 20, 2005

The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace was my chosen airplane book for this trip. While not the easiest of books to follow while half asleep and trying to equalize the pressure in my ears, it was funny and interesting enough to keep me from plugging into the in-flight entertainment (actually not that hard when the choices are a special on cigar-making or an episode of King of Queens). It's a bit difficult to summarize - Lenore Beadsman is searching for her great-grandmother (who, along with some of her fellow residents and a few staff members, disappeared from a nursing home), while attempting to navigate her personal relationship with her boss and trying to define herself outside of her family. That doesn't convey the silliness and inventiveness of DFW's prose though, which is definitely on display here, but not yet at full blown DFW-ishness. I'm not sure that makes sense. Basically - long, involved sentences and lots of big words, no footnotes. Better? I liked it a lot but think I prefer Infinite Jest, which I'm planning on re-reading one of these days.

I've been in New Orleans visiting Daisy and had a fabulous time hanging out with her and Jeff, who is the perfect New Orleans tour guide. Daisy has already done the heavy lifting with regards to our activities, so you can go read about all the cool stuff we did over there. Anyway. While I was there Daisy was kind enough to provide me with Somebody Else's Kids by Torey Hayden from her library. While slightly less compelling than Ghost Girl (really, what can compete with Satanic abuse?) it was still a moving account of four very different students and Torey's struggle to help them. I'm pretty hooked on her books now and I'll be headed up to the 7th floor at lunch to grab a couple more.


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

So I made a deal with Daisy that she would read Galveston if I would read Ghost Girl by Torey Hayden. Well, I've kept my end of the deal. I started it yesterday during lunch and barely put it down until I'd finished it. Torey Hayden is a special education teacher who writes books about the students she's had. This one is about a girl who was being abused and had stopped speaking until Torey got there. I was going to try not to give anything away but then realized the LC subject headings already did that what with the primary subject listing being "Satanism - Psychological aspects - Case studies." Total spoiler there. Hah. Hayden isn't the best writer; her style is very straightforward (but not too dry) and not particularly artful, but the story is compelling enough that it doesn't need to be. I will definitely be checking out her other books.


Monday, June 13, 2005

Saturday I read Mysterious Skin by Scott Heim for my book group. I've been a little obsessed with the movie and was determined to read the book as soon as I could. I noticed a few changes, like Eric and Wendy knowing each other in the movie but never actually meeting in the book and some other minor things (taking a bus instead of a plane, Ellen's hair color, etc), but nothing that really stood out as one betraying the other or anything. What a relief. I was slightly disappointed that one of my favorite lines wasn't in the book ("What I would later come to call "my type") and neither was the line that got the single biggest laugh when I saw it in a theater full of gay men (which I won't repeat here because I don't particularly need that kind of Google traffic). Anyway. My whole experience of the book is cinematic because I came at it from that direction and I'm interested to find out how the other readers felt about it, not having seen the movie first.

I finished up my Sean Stewart run with Resurrection Man. It was both easier to understand and more complicated than I remembered. It takes place in the same "world" as both Galveston and The Night Watch, but the events in the book occur before the flood of magic in 2004. It's about Dante, who has been avoiding his own power but is forced to face it by his brother Jet when Jet discovers Dante's body under a sheet in Dante's room. It's an unusual opening, Dante performing an autopsy on his own body, and definitely more creepy than I remembered, what with the spiders and all. I think I followed the story better this time because I worked my way backwards in the chronology of the world. It doesn't seem like it would be the case, but the other books told enough history of what happened pre-Flood that it's easier to place the action knowing that.

There were a bunch of things I wanted to write about this book but I left it at home with all my notes inside. Let's see... I know I wanted to mention the use of religious and mythological terminology to describe the magic and its effects. There are angels, minotaurs, demons, the virgil, Dante himself, gods, etc. There is also a reference to the golems that appeared in Germany during WWII which I know was mentioned in one of the other books too. Religion and mythology are as close to mysticism and magic as society gets, so it makes sense that they would use those terms to describe something out of their realm of experience. It's simply the closest thing they know that fits. I think I also had jotted down some recurring ideas and symbols that run through the three books - the little girls, two of which are created, wings (butterfly, angel, bird), the idea of accepting responsibility. I think there were more but that's all I've got right now.


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

My next Sean Stewart book was Galveston, which won the World Fantasy Award in 2001. It's set in the same reality as The Night Watch, where magic started seeping back into the world in the 1940s before a flood of it in 2004 caused havoc everywhere. Galveston takes place about 40-50 years before the events in The Night Watch, covering the years just past the flood up to about 2030 or so. Because it's not as far removed, bits and pieces of technology are still in use and many people are still trying to hold onto their previous way of life. The story follows Sloane Gardner, the well-to-do daughter of the sort-of mayor of the city and Josh Cane, her childhood friend brought low by bad luck. Stewart uses these two characters to explore issues of class and fundamental aspects of society. "Civilization isn't what happens in the absence of barbarity, Mr. Cane. It's what we struggle to build in the midst of it." While Sloane tries to find a way to escape from her station and the responsibilities it brings, Josh sees his fall from grace as unfair and can't seem to come to terms with his present situation. Neither are very sympathetic characters, but Stewart makes them understandable and we care about them despite their actions. The magic, Mardi Gras, and especially poker run through the whole novel. Sloane comes into her own by learning to play the game and Josh, too, finally accepts his cards as they have been dealt instead of protesting his hand. "Josh likes chess because it's fair. Each player controls exactly what happens on the board, and the one who plays best wins. That's what makes it a boy's game." Sam took a pack of cards out of his jacket pocket and decanted them with thoughtless grace. "A man's game should be like life."

Oh, and there are cannibals.


Thursday, June 02, 2005

Holy crap, I got memed! How exciting - a departure from my strict what-I've-been-reading format.

Total Size of Music Files on My Computer

Dude, I just barely got myself a cheap-ass laptop two weeks ago and haven't had a chance to do much more than set up some files and users and play Spider Solitaire. So, zero there. And I so don't use the bandwidth here at work to do any downloading of music, legal or otherwise because that's against city policy.

The Last CD I Bought Was

I haven't been CD shopping in a while. Of course, by "a while" I mean "about 2 weeks." That would put me at... oh! Right. Spoon's Gimme Fiction. The first song skips in my car stereo but not on any other music playing devices I have. I've already thrown away the receipt so I can't return it and get a new one. Oh well.

Song Playing Right Now On My iFruit

Rrrrright. Because I've had an extra couple of hundred dollars just lying around to spend on one of those thingies. Although I am eyeing the used iRivers on ebay for a possible purchase next paycheck. Nobody outbid me! (And I suppose I could've done without a pair of shoes or 10 and bought one ages ago.) Anyway. So, let's see. If you started my car you'd hear "Prize Fighter" by The Velvet Teen (assuming my stereo didn't decide to crap out on me again). And my discman would begin playing a live version of "Wind in the Wires" by Patrick Wolf. At home you'd be treated to whatever the first song is on a mix my friend Anne sent me. Which I can't remember right now but I seem to recall being a live cover done by Wilco maybe.

Five Songs That Mean A Lot To Me (1 per artist)

I'm choosing to interpret "mean a lot" as "most gorgeous."

1. Ravel "Pavane Pour une Enfant Defunte" - My favorite song I ever learned to play on the piano.

2. David Bowie "Life on Mars" - One of the highlights of my entire life is getting to hear him perform this live.

3. Ride "Vapour Trail" - I just close my eyes and float away on this one.

4. Old 97's "In the Satellite Rides a Star" - This one has moved me to tears more than once.

5. Radiohead "Let Down" - Anything but.

Who's Next

I'll pass it on to:


Now we'll see if they actually read my blog...


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