Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What I’ve been reading lately…

Talk To The Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World, or Six Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door, by Lynne Truss. I love observations on society and culture, and I love a good rant, especially when it’s a) about rude behavior and b) written by someone who styles herself “the Queen of Zero Tolerance”. So while this little book’s not what I would call weighty, it’s great fun to read, if only because you’ll find yourself nodding and saying, “yes, yes, I hate it when people do that!”

Fox Evil, by Minette Walters
From Booklist: The title of Walters' latest fright fest comes from a peculiarly virulent kind of skin disorder, in which hair falls out in mangy clumps. It also serves as the delightful nickname of one of Walters' main characters in this compulsive page-turner, which puts a deranged spin on the conventional village cozy. Walters, who has won both the American Edgar and the British Gold Dagger Award, is expert at ratcheting up suspense while she portrays credibly confused and terrified characters meeting their fates. Great psychological acuity in a hair-raising suspense story.

It’s pretty easy for me to find non-fiction I like, but I’m tough to please when it comes to fiction. I wanted to like this mystery novel – it seems like exactly the kind of thing I’d enjoy. And the author has a huge backlist I could buy up.
But while there was nothing really wrong with it, it was definitely not hair-raising. If anything, I was a teensy bit bored. Walters writes well, but the characters didn’t engage me.

Carter Beats The Devil by Glen David Gold
From Booklist: Gold's debut novel opens with real-life magician Charles Carter executing a particularly grisly trick, using President Warren G. Harding as a volunteer. Shortly afterwards, Harding dies mysteriously in his San Francisco hotel room, and Carter is forced to flee the country. Or does he? It's only the first of many misdirections in a magical performance by Gold.

Another one I should have loved, since it’s about the life of a stage magician, and I have a little fetish for non-fiction about the history of magic. (Oddly, I have no desire to actually go see live magic shows, though. It’s the behind-the-scenes elements of the books that I like.) This novel certainly got a lot of critical acclaim. My verdict? Well…not bad. It doesn’t exactly zip along, that’s for sure – the slow pace reminded me of both The Prestige and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. I did like seeing how the author wove real-life incidents from stage-magic history into the thread. However, like the Walter’s book, I found it rather put-downable. Still, it was a very sweet gift from a man I like playing with, and that alone endeared it to me.

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