The OF Blog: March 30-April 4 Reads

Sunday, April 05, 2009

March 30-April 4 Reads

Well, as I expected, got a few more books reading during my week off than usual. Here are the 11 books that I read or re-read from Tuesday through Saturday. Quick thoughts on each follow.

95 Daniel Goldhagen, A Moral Reckoning - This 2002 book on the Catholic Church's failures to confront its role in the Holocaust certainly was an attention-grabber. However, I see that Goldhagen still fails to use his (secondary) sources appropriately and that invective serves in stead of analysis and even taking his stated purpose of examining the moral responsibilities of institutions such as the Catholic Church into account and discounting the (in my professional opinion, a very necessary) importance of demonstrating a general competence with the historiography, this was a fairly shoddily-written work. But for full disclosure's sake, I'm a Functionalist and Goldhagen's extreme form of Intentionalism when it comes to examining the Holocaust is going to lead to quite a few clashes over how to interpret the data available. Damn, I think I've wasted over 100 words on this.

96 Nick Gevers and Jay Lake (eds.), Other Worlds - This original anthology of alt-history stories was very well-done, with strong stories from Stephen Baxter, Jeff VanderMeer, Lucius Shepard, and Theodora Goss. At the worst, the stories were solid, but most were well-done and considering this anthology is available for only $8, there is a lot of value for the money contained in these 300 pages.

97 Neil Gaiman, The Sandman: The Kindly Ones - Outstanding story. Considering doing a review over the entire series sometime this summer.

98 M. John Harrison, Climbers - Mimetic fiction of a rock/wall climber, Mike, who's escaping a failed marriage and is in search of "the perfect climb." For those who want to complain about MJH saying this or that, read this novel. It's a powerful read that is set firmly in Great Britain of the 1980s and its characterizations are superb.

99 Antony Johnston and Wilson Tortosa, Wolverine: Prodigal Son - First in a series of mangas telling Wolverine's backstory. Never really read the X-Men comics, but can say that this story was told well and the artwork was pretty good.

100 Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire - Meta-fiction/poetry at its finest. Will need to re-read this one a few times before I can presume to think that I grasped most of what he was doing here in 230 pages.

101 M. John Harrison, The Centauri Device - This 1971 SF novel by MJH contains elements of his masterful prose that made his latter novels and stories great reads for me, but the story was much weaker here. Very much an author developing his/her voice sort of tale.

102 Steph Swainston, The Year of Our War - This was a very disjointed read for me. There were scenes and characterizations that I enjoyed, but these were alternated by scenes that seemed rather bland. Perhaps it's just a first novel effect. Will read on in her series, but I might want to re-read this one first before making any firm decisions.

103 Dinaw Mengestu, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears - Excellent debut novel about an Eithopian immigrant living in Washington, D.C. and his relationship with an upper-middle class white female newcomer and her biracial daughter. This is set against a backdrop of community resentment and later rioting against forced evictions and the gentrification of the Logan's Circle neighborhood.

104 Hope Mirrlees, Lud-in-the-Mist (re-read from 2006) - Nice, quaint English fabulistic fantasy from the 1920s. Re-read was a bit duller, however, perhaps due to my familiarity with the twists buried within the nice prose.

105 Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (re-read from 2007) - Will have much more to say in a review, but this is a work that I believe most here would benefit from reading. So much contained in just 165 pages.

In Progress:

Brandon Sanderson, Warbreaker

Bill Ectric, Tamper

Future Plans:

A.S. Byatt, Possession

Alastair Gray, Lanark

Michael Moorcock, The Cornelius Quartet

1 comment:

E. L. Fay said...

I had to read Invisible Cities for college. I liked it, but I do need to re-read it. Can't wait for your review.

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