Sunday, March 29, 2009

Crapfest in Amberville

Amberville -- (Tim Davys) -- Kindle Edition (2009) -- 5

The Saga of Eric Bear and his animal friends was readable, I'll give it that. There were also several turns of phrase that made me chuckle (pat and somewhat puny, but I go for that).

Reviews in the chronicle pushed me to purchase Amberville, and while I can't say i'm sorry to have read it, I'd say they steered me wrong. While readable, Amberville is trite. It feels like the outline of a novel, but the plot points don't make sense.

For example, Teddy Bear is obviously nuts and is obviously institutionalized -- this seemed clear from his very first (first person) chapter. So all of his ranting and raving about being married to Emma Bear and working for Wolle and Wolle are questionable from the first. So why in the world would his doctors encourage Emma Bear accept his marriage proposal and go through a fake ceremony? What's the point in that being real (especially when it makes NO sense) when the rest of his crazy is just that? Can't this be just one more delusion?

The messages here about faith and science ring false, and confused. It's an original world with interesting parallels to our own, and I'm tempted to draw conclusions about what the author is saying, but the only moral that seems to make sense is "if it weren't for religion, no one would have to die," which of course makes no sense at all.

The final insult to my intelligence is the epilogue. Eric has to make a choice between the gangster Nicholas Dove and his brother, Teddy. Nick has threatened to harm his beloved, Emma Rabbit. But we find out from Teddy that Nick is Emma's father. So we, the reader, know both that Emma is in no real danger, and also that there is only one morally right decision for Eric to come to. The entire book is really about Eric's decision. It seems to me that we know juts barely enough about Eric to realize he would make the right decision. It's not a surprise that he makes the right decision. What's completely unnecessary is finding out that Eric has been told by Teddy about Emma's paternity. He really didn't need this information to make a decision. It cheapened the entire book.

Amberville is publicised Pseudonymously by "Tim Davys." I'm starting this blog on the day I finished Amberville. My real thought here is that if you're famous enough (as "Tim Davys," is rumored to be) I guess you can get anything published. I guess that's why I chose that name, Pseudonymous, for my blog. Because I don't, either, intend to produce something of quality.

Rant, Over.

8 Books a Month

My stupid new years resolution at the end of 2008 was to read 100 books in 2009. Why 100? It's a nice round number, but besides that, I didn't think it through too much. It sounded low to me, actually. Then I did the math (not ever my strong suit) and it turns out that comes to about 2 books a week, or 8 per month. Do-able, but with little room for falling behind.

Of course, by February, my resolution had lost meaning, just as every other resolution I and most other humans have made. It was a fun thought, but without meaningful accounting (and once my tv shows started up after their winter break) it had little to do with real day to day life.

Then, Kindle came, and reinvigorated my reading life.

So, in short, I decided to start writing this "blog" as a personal accounting. I have no intention of being thorough, precise or eloquent. My only intention is to make a record of what I'm reading that I hope will fix it in a place and time for me that gives it more meaning. Whether I'll meet my 100 books in 2009 goal or not, I don't know. I'm not sure I care either.

Here are my ground rules for myself:
For each book, I'll post at least one time. I plan to use a scale of 1-10 to rate each book, because I think that's fun. I won't summarize plots unless it seems necessary to meaningful criticism. I'll try to read 1 nonfiction book for ever 2 novels. I'll also note the version of the book that I read.

Here are the books I've read so far this year, that won't get a fair review in this "blog":

Something Rotten (Jasper Fforde) -- Hardcover (2004) -- 8
This is Thursday Next #4. Quite excellent, of course, but #3 will always be my favorite (unless we get a #6? ahhem. . .)

First Among Sequels (Jasper Fforde) -- Paperback (2008) -- 8
The last Thursday Next so far (#5). I want more.

The Doctor's Plague (Sherwin Nuland) -- Hardcover (2003) -- 5
Narrative History of Childbed Fever. Interesting, but nothing terribly special about the writing

Odd Hours (Dean Koontz) -- Paperback (2008) -- 6
Koontz just doesn't write like he used to. I'm so not impressed by these 300-400 page chase scenes. You can't not love Odd, but still. . .plot, anyone?

By The Sword (F. Paul Wilson) -- Kindle Edition (2008) -- 7
The impressive Repairman Jack series continues to heat up as we get towards Year Zero. F. Paul Wilson continues to be the most interesting writer of "supermarket thrillers" for my money. And that's by a long shot.

Jack: Secret Histories (F. Paul Wilson) -- Kindle Edition (2008) -- 8
F. Paul Wilson gives us Repairman Jack as a teenager in this unanticipated young adult series. There's certainly a sense of backtracking as Wilson finds ways to create Jack's past in ways that make it meet his evolving ideas of the present -- but this is so much fun. It's fun watching Jack begin to develop his "fix it" skills as a teen.

The Professor and the Madman -- (Simon Winchester) -- Kindle Edition (2005) -- 8
An interesting, if forgettable, narrative history of the partnership between the creators of the OED and a madman.

Beautiful Boy -- (David Sheff) -- Kindle Edition (2008) -- 10
An incredible memoir of a father's experience of his son's drug addiction. It's so much more than a story about drugs and disability. It read, to me, as a story about humanity, and life, and change and development, and so much more that I can't communicate. It stays with me.

Drood -- (Dan Simmons) -- Kindle Edition (2009) -- 9
A brilliant, complex narrative that is part historical fiction, part horror. Simmons has that rare ability. It's not about how horrible an event or apparition is, but how the horror of the moment is communicated. Drood constantly puts you into that horrific moment. The whole thing's a monster!