A while back I won a copy of Ways to Live Forever in a drawing over at Vulpes Libris. If you know me, a free book is a good book, but I still let it languish on by bookshelf for quite some time. I finally got around to it and finished just a few nights ago. On nights when Anna has a bit of trouble getting to sleep, I’ll read a bit to her until she drifts off. I read this one incrementally over about two weeks or so, and I’m not sure it was a choice on my part. A book about an eleven-year-old dying of leukemia is probably not something you want to fall asleep to. Regardless, it was a great book. Oddly, it is also a kid’s book.
This may seem a bit strange to some, it did a bit to me as well, that in our day and age where we do everything we can to shelter kids from anything unpleasant, let alone anything morbid, someone would address such a book to kids. This is, after all, an era where Rapunzel didn’t let down her hair so charming prince could rescue her from a tower prison, put there by an evil witch. No, no, she merely was a girl told by her grumpy aunt that she couldn’t go out and play. So her friend climbed up inside, with the help of Rapunzel’s extraordinary hair and they had a play date together. This is pathetic, yes, but I seemed to have gotten side-tracked.
It’s not often I get hit as hard by a book as I did by The Raw Shark Texts. I just finished it this morning on my way into work, and, wow. I am completely bowled over. And this is just author Steven Hall’s first novel.
It is the story of a man named Eric Sanderson who wakes up with complete amnesia. He has no idea who or where he is, only that he has just woken up in extreme panic. (I might skip the rest of this paragraph if I were you. At least not if I didn’t like spoilers.) Finding a note giving him instructions, he calls up a psychiatrist, Dr. Randle, who has been handling his case. This was the eleventh recurrence of his memory loss. Sanderson begins to receive letters and packages from his past self, set on delay to arrive periodically. By following the instructions and crawling further and further into a strange world, Sanderson tries to escape from his recurring and ever increasingly real dreams of being hunted by a giant shark. Not only is he haunted by the shark, but also by his past which always sits just out of reach. The text continues to follow Sanderson deeper and deeper into either insanity or enlightenment; it’s never clear which. The shark, it turns out, is a conceptual fish, hunting Sanderson, wanting to consume his self. Eric must find a way to kill the shark, there is no other escape. Continue reading
Well, if you entered in the Great Random Book Giveaway of August 1, thank you very much for joining in. Last night I printed off a list of all entries, folded them once, and drew the winner out of a hat. Well it wasn’t so much of a hat as it was a vase, actually kind of an urn. No ashes or anything, don’t worry.
At any rate a winner was drawn. So congratulations go to James Nichols on winning a copy of That Old Ace in the Hole by Annie Proulx. I very much enjoyed the book when I read it, and I hope James will as well.
Thanks to everyone that entered, especially to those who posted on their blogs about he contest. Be sure to check back often as I’ll probably be doing this on a somewhat regular basis.
******** This Contest Is Now Closed ***************
I’m going to try something new, and we’ll have to see how well everyone likes it. If you all do, we might make this a regular thing.
If you’ve read more than a couple posts here at The Eighth Art, you’re well aware of the fact that I love books. I buy new ones whenever I get the chance. I have reached a point, rather I passed the point some time ago, where I have too many books. Let me qualify: I don’t really think you could ever really have too many books, and I love to be surrounded by them. However, I live in a one bedroom apartment, and space is at a premium.
And so, here’s the idea: A book giveaway here on The Eighth Art. Not exactly an original idea in and of itself, so here’s the spin. I will be picking the book at random from my library after I have all the entries. I’ll post the title of the book and the winner of the drawing at the same time next Friday (August 8).
So it seems there is a birthday coming. August 9, will mark the 70th year since the start of George Orwell’s Diaries. If you don’t know who George Orwell is, smack yourself.
He was a famous English writer who wrote about the abuse of power. He wrote six novels, three non-fiction books, and many essays. He is best known for 1984 (the source of people repeating the phrase ‘Dystopian Future’ ad nauseam) and Animal Farm. If you haven’t read them, you really should. If, living in America in the year 2008, you ever think your life is hard, pick up a copy of Down and Out in Paris and London. It was based on Orwell’s own experiences and will shame you into ever complaining about your job ever again.
Anyway, back to the diaries. Continue reading
A while back I picked up a copy of Ian Fleming’s Moonraker. I just finished it this morning on my way in to work. It’s the first James Bond novel I’ve ever read, much less owned, and I really liked it.
I hadn’t been really interested in the book series, but, on a trip out to a bookstore in Ojai, I found a copy of this book. Here’s why I bought it: I liked the cover art. The colors and the typeface are perfect for this throw back design. The girl looking up over her shoulder at the rocket, the eyes in the clouds, everything just comes together perfectly. The whole ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ thing clearly does not always apply. Most books that later become movies have their covers pillaged and replaced with a screen shot from the movie. (This is wrong and should not be allowed. Ever.) So, yes, I bought the book because I liked the cover. It’s not shallow; I’m appreciating the graphic design, or something like that.
A friend over at Things I Love and Hate wrote a great post on overlooked works and in it mentioned how people read Tom Sawyer and think they know Mark Twain. Most people are at least familiar with his “major” works (e.g. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court), but there is so much that he wrote that goes unnoticed. Twain is one of my favorite authors, and I can’t believe people don’t read more of his works
And so, here is a list for the philistines among us: Mark Twain You Need to Read.
- The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson
This is the story of a young lawyer named Wilson that comes into a small town. On his arrival, he is waiting at the train station and he is annoyed by a dog that will not stop barking. He comments jokingly to a man nearby “I wish I owned half of that dog.” When asked why he responded, “Because I would kill my half.” The man took him as being serious, and decided that Wilson was a pudd’nhead. The name stuck.
Twain uses the novel to explore the issue of slavery, a well as stereotypes and small town politics.
I’m not going to write up a full review on this book. I don’t think there would be much point as so much has already been said about it by people far more talented than myself. I may be fairly late to the parade here, but I just want to say, The Kite Runner was incredible. I finished it yesterday, and I am still blown away by it. I think the term “Redemption Story” is completely overused, but here it is more than just words.
You need to read this book. That is all.
I just finished Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil on the train last night. I really liked this book and will definitely be looking up some other books by John Berendt. I know I’m a bit late checking in on this book, as it was published fourteen years ago and spent a record four years on the New York Times Bestseller List, but at any rate, here are my thoughts.
Berendt’s approach to characters reminded me a lot of Tom Wolfe’s Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby: small and separate vignettes that add up to a great portrait of an area, though lacking the New Journalism feel.
I am glad that Berendt chose to divide Midnight into two books, as the sections each have their own distinct feel, and it would have been distracting had they not been acknowledged as being different. I actually enjoyed the first half, the scenes of life in Savannah, Georgia, more than I did the second, dealing with a murder and a dramatic trial. Continue reading