Wednesday, January 30, 2008


7. Slam (309 pp.) by Nick Hornby. You have no idea how much it pains me to pan a Nick Hornby book. I've been a fan since High Fidelity. I even read Fever Pitch all the way to the end and that's a lot of soccer even for me.

The book is about a teen pregnancy from the boy's point of view. It suffers a bit because I saw Juno less than a month ago and filled my quota of teen pregnancy stories for the time being.

But beyond that, I don't think it's a very good book. Sure, the dialogue and characterization are wonderful classic Hornby, but it felt like a book written on a deadline. He uses a couple of gimmicks that grew tiresome and I don't think the story holds together and by the end it felt long. Sorry, can't recommend.

Did you know the Atlantic Monthly is no longer behind a pay wall? You can read an interview with Hornby on this book here.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sign of the Unicorn

6. Sign of the Unicorn (192 pp.) by Roger Zelazny (Jan. 25). Check it out, already 6 books this year. At this rate I could challenge my record of 82 books in one year. Note: I did not have TV that year. The books I've read so far haven't been long and they've all been good. I've got a bunch of fatties on the shelf so my completion rate will probably slow down and also, it's not a contest.

This is the third book in the Amber series. They were written in the 70's and super easy to find used so I need to track down the rest. It's about this huge family who rule Amber and everybody is up to something and nobody can trust anybody. Really uncomfortable Christmas dinners in this household, if they celebrated Christmas in Amber. Somebody got killed, two people got stabbed, a unicorn appeared, then everyone started pointing fingers and guilty people ran off to rebuild their forces. Excellent.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Memory of Running

5. The Memory of Running (358 pp.) by Ron McLarty (Jan. 24). Several years ago I subscribed to Entertainment Weekly. I was never so happy to see a subscription lapse. I could write three screens on this but let's just boil it down to: it took way too much time. However, I remember the Stephen King column that talked about this book and I put it on my list. I read it now because someone at my office told me it was good and brought me his copy. It is a wonderful book but also sad. It's about a guy hitting 43 and stumbling through a series of family tragedies which launch him on this journey where he meets a lot of people who also have sad stories. But everyone is plodding along through life with a great deal of dignity. Recommend.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Guns of Avalon

4. The Guns of Avalon (223 pp.) by Roger Zelazny. Book 2 of the Amber Chronicles. Fabulous. Loved it. Corwin keeps fixing one problem and causing another one 10 times worse. Book 3 is ready for the bus trip on Monday.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (230 pp.) by Sherman Alexie (Jan 13). I've had a hard time figuring out what to say about this book. Definitely highly recommended. I really liked it but I had some problems with it that are difficult to articulate. I'm very cautious, some might say cowardly, about the controversial so I will decline to discuss further here.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


2. Postcards (309 pp.) by Annie Proulx (Jan 10). As always, fabulous writing, grim story. Its about the decline of a farm family. If you like Proulx, highly recommended.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

His Majesty's Dragon

1. His Majesty's Dragon Temeraire: Book 1 (356 pp.) by Naomi Novik (Jan 6). This is dragon nerd porn. I LOVED this book. But as I thought about it, it *is* kinda silly. It's the Napoleonic Wars with dragons. And turns out dragons are like big dogs that need a lot of attention and love, AND are warlike killing machines. I know. And there are at least three more written.