Books I’ve Read Since September 2004

This started as a list of books that I have read since I came to France in September 2004. Eventually I started rating them and writing mini reviews, which in turn became long reviews. I know the format of this page stinks, in time I’ll work something better out. Until then scroll down for the reviews.

*update Nov 2015*  When I moved away from this blog to a non-free web hoster I maintained a list of books I’ve read.  When I came back to this free WordPress site I lost that list. Or rather I kept the actual list but lost the webpage.  I’m tacking on that old list to this really old one so the formatting will change abruptly somewhere down at the end.

October 2016

The Flash Rebirth by Geoff Johns – **
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore – ****
Ex Machina Vol. 10: Term Limits by Brian K. Vaughan – ****
Ex Machina vol. 9: Ring Out the Old by Brian K. Vaughan – ***
Ex Machina Vol. 8: Dirty Tricks by Brian K. Vaughan – ***
Very Good, Jeeves by PG Wodehouse – ***1/2
Ex Machina Vol. 7: Ex Cathedra by Brian K. Vaughan – ***
Ex Machina Vol. 6: Power Down by Brian K. Vaughan – ***1/2
Ex Machina Vol. 5: Smoke Smoke by Brian K. Vaughan – ***1/2

September 2016

Sex Criminals, Vol. 1: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction – ***1/2
Ex Machina Vol. 4: March to War by Brian K. Vaughan – ***1/2
Ex Machina Vol. 3: Fact V. Fiction by Brian K. Vaughan – ***1/2
Ex Machina Vol. 2: Tag by Brian K. Vaughan – ***1/2
The Magician’s Nephew by CS Lewis – ***
Ex Machina Vol. 1: The First Hundred Days by Brian K. Vaughan – ***1/2
Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross – ***
The Whites by Richard Price – ****
1963 by Alan Moore – ***

August 2016

Saga, Volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughan – ***1/2
Saga, Volume 5 by Brian K. Vaughan – ***1/2
Saga, Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan – ***1/2
Saga, Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughan – ***1/2
Astro City: Beautie – Her Dark Plastic Roots – ***
Marvel’s Civil War by Mark Miller – ***
Gotham Central, Book Three: On the Freak Beatby Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker – ****
Daredevil: Born Again by Frank Miller – ***1/2
Daredevil: Love and War by Frank Miller – ***
Daredevil: Yellow by Jeff Loeb- ***1/2

July 2016
Conversations with Woody Allen by Eric Lax – ****

April 2016

Carsick by John Waters – **1/2
Superman: Red Son by Mark Millar – ****
Teen Titans #1 by Scott Lobdell – ***

March 2016

The Road to Civil War (Marvel Comics) – 8881/2
Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson – ***
The Martian by Andy Weir (Audiobook) – ***1/2
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy – ****
Saga, Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan – ***1/2

February 2016

The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb – ****
The Big Knockover by Dashiell Hammett – ****

January 2016

Ex Machina, Vol. 1: The First Hundred Days by Brian K Vaughan – ****
Playback (Graphic Novel) by Raymond Chandler – *
The Sandman, Vol 4: Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman – ****

Books read in 2016: 42

December 2015

Scorsese on Scorsese edited by Ian Christie – *****
The Walking Dead Volume 16: A Larger World by Robert Kirkman – ***
The Walking Dead Volume 15:We Find Ourselves by Robert Kirkman- ***
The Walking Dead Volume 14: No Way Out by Robert Kirkman – ***
The Walking Dead Volume 13: Too Far Gone by Robert Kirkman – ***
The Walking Dead Volume 12: Life Among Them by Robert Kirkman – ***
The Walking Dead Volume 11:Fear the Hunters by Robert Kirkman – ***
The Walking Dead Volume 10: What We Become by Robert Kirkman – ***
The Walking Dead Volume 9: Here We Remain by Robert Kirkman – ***
Daredevil: The Man Without Fear by Frank Miller – ****
Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore – ****1/2
Raylan by Elmore Leonard – ***

November 2015

Gotham Central: Book One – In the Line of Duty by Ed Brbaker & Greg Rucka – ***1/2
Astonishing X-Men: Gifted  by Joss Whedon – ***1/2
Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous by Joss Whedon – ***
Astonishing X-Men: Torn by Joss Whedon – ***
Bloom County: The Complete Library, Volume Four: 1986-1987 by Berkeley Breathed – ****

October 2015

Hitchcock/Truffaut by Francois Truffaut – *****

August 2015

Old Boy, Vol 6 by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi – ****
Old Boy, Vol 5 by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi – ****
Old Boy, Vol 4 by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi – ****
Old Boy, Vol 3 by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi – ****
Old Boy, Vol 2 by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi – ****
Old Boy, Vol 1 by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi – ****

June 2015

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (audiobook) – ***1/2

May 2015

Shopgirl by Steve Martin – ****
Oldboy, Vol 4 by Garon Tsuchiya & Nobuaki Minegishi – ***1/2
Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe – **

April 2015

As You Wish by Cary Elwes – ****

May 2015

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling – ***

January 2015

Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley – ****1/2

Number of books read in 2015: 31

December 2014

One Summer – America, 1927 by Bill Bryson – ****
The Walking Dead: Volume 9: Here We Remain by Robert Kirkman – ***

October 2014

On Writing by Stephen King – ****
Owsley and Me by Rhoney Gissen Stanley – ***
Farewell My Lovely by Raymond Chandler (audiobook) – ****

September 2014

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (audiobook) – ****1/2
Night of the Living Deadpool by Cullen Bunn & Ramon Rosanas – ***1/2
Preacher: Alamo by Garth Innis and Steve Dillon – ***
Preacher: All Hells A-Coming by Garth Innis and Steve Dillon – ****
Preacher: Salvation by Garth Innis and Steve Dillon – ****
Preacher: War in the Sun by Garth Innis and Steve Dillon – ****

August 2014

All I Did Was Ask by Terry Gross – ****
Jeeves and the Tie that Binds by P.G. Wodehouse – ***1/2

May 2014

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – ***
Iron Man: Extremis by Warren Ellis – ****

April 2014

Elephant Juice by Jeremy McGill
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick – ***
Scorsese by Ebert by Roger Ebert – ****1/2

February 2014

‘Salems Lot by Stephen King – ***1/2

January 2014

The Walking Dead, Vol. 8: Made to Suffer by Robert Kirkman – ****
The Walking Dead, Vol. 7: The Calm Before by Robert Kirkman – ****
The Walking Dead, Vol. 6: This Sorrowful Life by Robert Kirkman – ****
The Walking Dead, Vol. 5: The Best Defense by Robert Kirkman – ****
The Walking Dead, Vol. 4: The Heart’s Desire by Robert Kirkman – ****
The Walking Dead, Vol 3 – Safety Behind Bars by Robert Kirkman – ***
The Walking Dead, Vol 2 – Miles Behind Us by Robert Kirkman – ***
X-Men: Supernovas by Mike Carey – **
Preacher – Dixie Fried by Garth Innis – ***1/2

Total Books Read in 2014: 28

November 2013

Mysteries of Pittsburg by Michael Chabon – ***1/2
Lush Life by Richard Price – ****
X-Men – Inferno by Chris Claremont – **1/2
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – ***1/2
Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses by Bess Lovejoy – ***

August 2013

Bossypants by Tina Fey – ***
Enormously Foxtrot by Bill Amend – **1/2

July 2013

Scot Pilgrim’s Finest Hour – by Bryan Lee O’Malley – ****
Scott Pilgrim Vs the Universe – by Bryan Lee O’Malley – ****
Scott Pilgrim Gets it Together by Bryan Lee O’Malley – ****
Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness by Bryan Lee O’Malley – ****
Scott Pilgrim Vs the World by Bryan Lee O’Malley – ****
Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O’Malley – ****
A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin – ***1/2
Lady Snowblood, Vol. 1: The Deep-Seated Grudge Part 1 by Kazuo Koike & Kazuo Kamimura – ***1/2
Jerry Gallwell v Larry Flynt by Rodney A Smolla – ***1/2

June 2013

Wolverine by Chris Clemont and Frank Miller – ****
X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga by Chris Claremont – ****
Journey to Cubeville by Scott Adams – **1/2
Oldboy Vol 5 by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobauaki Minegishi – ****

May 2013

Ambrose Bierce and the Queen of Spades by Oakley Hall – ***
Bloom County: The Complete Library Volume Two: 1982-1984 by Berke Breathed – ****
Sandman Vol. 3: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman – ***1/2
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway – *****

April 2013

Catch Me if You Can by Frank W. Abagnale – ***
Sandman Vol. 2: The Doll’s House by Neil Gaiman – ****
Zits: Growth Spurt by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman – ***
Big Honkin’ Zits by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman – ***1/2

March 2013

DMZ Vol. I, Body on the Ground by Brian Wood, Riccardo Burchielli – ***1/2

February 2013

Preacher: Proud Americans – ****
Preacher: Until the End of the World by Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon – ****
Preacher: Gone to Texas by Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon – ****

January 2013

The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson – ***

Total books read in 2013: 32

December 2012

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes – ****
The Sandman #1: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman – ****

November 2012

The Grifters by Jim Thompson – ****1/2
Big Trouble by Dave Berry – ***

October 2012

Maus II by Art Spiegelman – *****
The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid – ***
Ichi the Killer, Tome X by Hidéo Yamamoto – ***
Ichi the Killer, Tome IX by Hidéo Yamamoto – ***
Ichi the Killer, Tome VIII by Hidéo Yamamoto – ***
Ichi the Killer, Tome VII by Hidéo Yamamoto – ***
Ichi the Killer, Tome VI by Hidéo Yamamoto – ***
Ichi the Killer, Tome V by Hidéo Yamamoto – ***
Ichi the Killer, Tome IV by Hidéo Yamamoto – ***
Eat the Rich: A Treatise on Economics by PJ O’Rourke – ***
A Feast For Crows by George RR Martin – ***

August 2012

Maus I by Art Spiegelman – *****
Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence – ***
Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris – **

July 2012

Old Boy Vol 4 by Garon Tsuchiya, Nobuaki Minegishi – ****

June 2012

7 Billion Needles by Nobuaki Tadano – **
Chew vol 4 by John Layman, Rob Guillory – ***

May 2012

The Glass Key by Dashielle Hammett – ****
Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt – ***1/2
Packing for Mars by Mary Roach – ***1/2
The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book by Bill Watterson – *****

April 2012

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre – ***
Pronto by Elmore Leonard – ***
A Model World and Other Stories by Michael Chabon – ***
A Storm of Swords by George RR Martin – ****

March 2012

A Clash of Kings by George RR Martin – ****
Jeeves in the Offing by PG Wodehouse – ****
Chew, Volume 3: Just Desserts by John Layman and Rob Guillory – ****
The Fall by Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan – ***

February 2012

Ichi the Killer, Tome III by Hidéo Yamamoto – ***
Chew, Volume 2: International Flavor by John Layman and Rob Guillory – ***1/2

January 2012

Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer – ***
31 Songs by Nick Hornby – ****
Ichi the Killer, Tome II by Hidéo Yamamoto – ***
American Hitch-hiker by Jeremy McGill
Orlando Bloom Has Ruined Everything: A FoxTrot Collection by Bill Amend – ***
Chew, Vol. 1: Taster’s Choice by John Layman and Rob Guillory – ****

Total Books Read in 2012: 41

December 2011

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick – *****
Shakespeare: The World a Stage by Bill Bryson – ****
Old Boy, Vol 3 by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi – ****
Ichi the Killer, Tome I by Hidéo Yamamoto – ***
The Killing Man by Mickey Spillane – **
Casino by Nicholas Pileggi – ***1/2
Nightwatch by Sergei Lukyanenko, Andrew Bromfield (Translator) – ***

November 2011

Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi – ****
Blood’s a Rover by James Ellroy – **
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut – ****
The Inimitable Jeeves by PG Wodehouse – ****

October 2011
The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, Vol. 2 by Eiji Otsurka & Kousui Yamazaki – ***
Bloom County Babylon by Berke Breathed – ****
It’s a Magical World by Bill Watterson – *****
Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby – ***
Game of Thrones by George RR Martin – ****
September 2011
Old Boy, Vol 2 by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi – ****
Tales Too Ticklish to Tell by Berke Breathed – ****
Zits by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman – ***

August 2011

Spook by Mary Roach – ***
Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut – ***
Billy and the Boingers Bootleg by Berke Breathed – ****
Y: The Last Man, Book 10 – Whys and Wherefores by Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra – ****

June 2011

The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan – ***
Enormously Foxtrot by Bill Amend – **

May 2011

Batman: The Widening Gyre by Kevin Smith – **
Oldboy, Vol. 1 by Garon Tsuchiya & Nobuaki Mingegishi – ****
Penguin Dreams and Stranger Things by Berke Breathed – ****
The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (Volume 1) by Eiji Otsuka, Housui Yamazaki – ****

April 2011

100 Bullets: First Shot, Last Call by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso – ***
The Walking Dead Vol. 1: Days Gone By by Robert Kirkman – ***
Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72 by Hunter S. Thompson – ****
Ladies Man by Richard Price – **1/2

March 2011

A Death in Belmont by Sebastian Junger – ***1/2
Wired: The Short Life and Fast Times of John Belushi by Bob Woodward – ***
The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown – *
Y: The Last Man, Book 9 – Motherland by Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra – ***1/2

February 2011

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson – **

January 2011

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris – ****
Y: The Last Man, Book 9 – Kimono Dragons by Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra – ***1/2
Ignorance, They Name is Bucky by Darby Conley – ****

Books read in 2011: 41

December 2010

Stiff by Mary Roach – ****
Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut – ***1/2
The Spiderwick Chronicles: Vol 5, The Wrath of Mulgarath by Tony DiTerlizzi & Holly Black – ***
Tin Tin and the Blue Lotus by Herge – ***
Down Under By Bill Bryson – ****

November 2010

Deliverance by James Dickey – ****

October 2010

Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley – **

September 2010

Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk – **
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi – ***1/2
Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist – ***

August 2010

Night by Elie Weisel
Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh – ****
Mystic River by Dennis Lehane – ****
Fer-De-Lance by Rex Stout – ***
Reading 10,000 Books by Peggy Pate-Smith

July 2010

Y: The Last Man – Paper Dolls – ***
Y: The Last Man – Girl on Girl by Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra – ***

June 2010

Y: The Last Man – Ring of Truth by Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra – ***1/2
The Losers, Book One by Andy Diggle & Jock – ***
The Crow by JO Barr – **1/2
Y: The Last Man, Vol. 2 (Deluxe Edition) Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra – ****

May 2010

Contact by Carl Sagan – ****
Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett – *****

April 2010

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris – **

March 2010

Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson – **1/2
God Bless You, Dr. Kavorkian by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. – ***
Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth by Grant Morrison & Dave McKean – ***1/2
The Road by Cormac McCarthy – ****1/2
The Continental Op by Dashiell Hammett – ****
Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card – ***
Y: The Last Man – Cycle by Brian K Vaughan & Pia Guerra – ****

February 2010

Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield – ***
Clockers by Richard Price – *****
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – ***1/2

January 2010

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson – ****

Books read in 2010: 35

December 2009

Y: The Last Man, Book 1: Unmanned by Brian K Vaughan & Pia Guerra – ****1/2
Batman: The Killing Joke By Alan Moore, Brian Bollard & John Higgins – *****
Pagan Babies by Elmore Leonard – ****

September 2009

Tishimingo Blues by Elmore Leonard – ***1/2
Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs by Irvine Welsh – **
Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell – ****1/2

August 2009

World War II by C.L. Sulzberger – ***1/2
Night by Elie Wiesel – *****


I Am Legend by Richard Matheson – ****
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson – ****
Deadeye Dick by Kurt Vonnegut – ***


The Cheese Monkeys by Chip Kidd – **1/2
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John le Carré – ****
Gold Coast by Elmore Leonard – **


A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah – ****
30 Days of Night, Book 3: Return to Barrow by Steve Niles & Ben Templesmith – ***1/2
Fletch and the Widow Bradley by Gregory McDonald – **1/2
The Corner by David Simon and Ed Burns – ****1/2
The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon – ****1/2
30 Days of Night, Book 2: Dark Days by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith – ****


The Spiderwick Chronicles, Vol. 4: The Ironwood Tree by Tony Diterlizzi and Holly Black – ***
Family Values (Sin City, Book 5) by Frank Miller – **
Welcome to Hoxford by Ben Templesmith – ***
30 Days of Night by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith – ***1/2
Robot Visions by Isaac Asimov – ****
The Spiderwick Chronicles, Vol. 3: Lucinda’s Secret by Tony Diterlizzi and Holly Black – ***1/2


The Spiderwick Chronicles, Vol. 2 – The Seeing Stone by Tony Diterlizzi and Holly Black – ****
The Spiderwick Chronicles, Vol. 1 – The Field Guide by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black – ****
Stardust by Neil Gaiman – ***

February 2009

Slam by Nick Hornby – **1/2
Batman: Year One by Frank Miller – ****

January 2009

Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard – ****
Out of Sight by Elmore Leonard – ***1/2
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller – ****

Total Books Read in 2009: 33

December 2008

Baby Shark by Robert Fate – ***
Books by Larry McMurtry – *1/2
Fletch by Gregory MacDonald – ***1/2
Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (Audiobook) – ***1/2

November 2008

October 2008

White Jazz by James Ellroy – **1/2
Killshot by Elmore Leonard – ****
Baby Shark’s High Plains Redemption by Robert Fate – ***1/2

September 2008

Watchmen – ****1/2
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer – ***1/2
Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro – ****

August 2008

Homicide by David Simon – *****

July 2008

Freaky Deaky by Elmore Leonard – ***1/2
Surviving the Killing Fields by Haing Ngor – ****

June 2008

A Scanner Darkly by Phillip K. Dick – ***
Devil in the White City by Erik Larson – **1/2

May 2008

Summer Lightning by P.G. Wodehouse – ***1/2
The Stand by Stephen King – ***1/2
No Country for Old Men Cormac McCarthy – ****

April 2008

The Witches by Roald Dahl – ***1/2
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer – ****
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer – ***

March 2008

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas – ***1/2

February 2008

George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl – ****
The Complete Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby – ****
The Hot Kid by Elmore Leonard – ****1/2
The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto “Che” Guevera – **1/2
The Bridge to Terabithia by Catherine Patterson – ***
Mirrormask by Neil Gaiman – Audiobook – ***

January 2008
Chew on This by Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson – **

Total Books Read in 2008: 29

31 Songs by Nick Hornby
Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Feilding
The Shipping News by E Annie Proulx
The Corrections by John Franzen
Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler
The High Window by Raymond Chandler
Fox Fire by Joyce Carol Oates
All Around this Town by Mary Higgins Clark
Glass Key by Dashielle Hammett
Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum
The Idiot Girl’s Action Adventure Club by Laurie Notaro
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Me and Mr. Albert by Michael Paterniti
Girl with the Pearl Earing by Tracy Chevalier
Trance State by John Case

Read in 2005

Playback by Raymond Chandler
Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle ***

Peter Mayles account of his first year in the South of France. It is filled with humerous accounts of the locals, rebuilding his house and delicious meals. He describes the French cuisine like art. Nearly every page leaves your belly rumbling and mouth watering.

Forrest Gump by Winston Groom **

A few months back I watched the movie again and was well underwhelmed by my memory of how magical it was. The book didn’t do much to bolster my opinion. The plot is similar even if it differs in many places. Forrest is very much the idiot sevant, but his adventures are mostly different. The book is funny in many places, and several times I laughed out loud. However, it fell short in trying to make me care about the characters or in its attempt at satire.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris ****

This was my second time reading this book. If anything it has proven even funnier the second time. Sedaris has an eye for detail and a way of finding humor and insight in the sordid details of his life. It is so hard to distinguish where his reality ends and fantasy begins. And surely there is some fantasy for some the stories he tells are so bizarre they have to be made up. Having now spent 4 months in France and dealt with trying to understand the culture and the language, I found the essays on France to be the most interesting. There are pages of texts where I laughed out loud, read again with tears rolling down my cheeks, then sought out my wife so I could read them to her and laugh all over again.

Animal Farm by George Orwell ****

This was kind of a reverse ‘negative utopia,’ for animals. That is to say, here the characters begin their story by creating a real utopia, but in true Orwell fashion, that utopia is slowly destroyed and a darker, crueler world arises. Not nearly as good as 1984, this is never-the-less classic stuff. I can’t help but root for the characters in Orwells writing knowing full well that it won’t turn out good for them. This, still manages to crush my spirits by books end.

Rabbit Redux by John Updike ***

3/4ths of this is very good. It sinks somewhere in the middle with a lot of dialogue about race issues. I understand that the characters need to undergo change. But do you have to give me 40 odd pages of dialogue for me to understand that change? The rest of the novel is pure Updike. Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom is back 10 years after the events of Rabbit, Run. He is still the American everyman. And still very much without a clue about his life. Choosing to allow life to happen to him, rather than make a choice. There is a social commentary weaved into the commentary, this time pinned into the fabric at the tumultous end of the 60s. It’s weaved a little too thick here, in some places, so that it feels more like a treatice than the background for a good story.

The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon ****

I started reading this book in February or March of 2003. For one reason or another I was only a couple of hundred pages into it when it was due back to the library. As is usual with me, I decided to give up reading it and turn it in, rather than recheck it. This is not a comment on the quality of the read, but rather a quirk in my own existense. I was fairly busy at the time and I figured that if I only made it through 200 pages in the first three weeks, another three weeks wouldn’t get me to the end of this 636 paged tome. Finding it in the library here, I decided to pick it back up. I’m glad I did, and grateful I managed to finnish it this time.

Chabon has created a magical book. Slightly based on the history of the comic book, and partly a fictional account of a small group of Jews during the atrocities of Hitler. Though, as Chabon admits, he chooses to ignore facts and history as it suits his story. It is the story of the friendship between Joe Kavalier and Sam Clay. The story begins with Joe having fled Nazi run Prague for the comforts of his cousin, Sam’s comfortable apartment in Brooklyn. They quickly become great friends and enter into the burgeoning comic book world.

Chabon writes beautifully crafted sentence that course forwards and bacwards through time to tell a multi-faceted story. His pen pauses in moments of time during the present and pulls the reader into a back story of Prague, the Kavaliers and comic books. Joe Kavalier’s story is beautifully told, encompassing a stint as a magician and escape artists before travling from Prague to New York by way of Asia and California. The story of how Joe traveled to New York by way of a golem filled box is hilarious, frightening and poignant. For the first 2/3s of the book, Chabon’s pen doesn’t let the reader down from it’s magnificent begining.

Yet it is about 2/3s of the way in, that the story begins to faulter. In an effort to tell a grand, epic story, Chabon treads beyond the beautifully told past, and magnificent present, into a less than glorious future. Seeing his characters rise from humble, troubled beginings to a stellar, triumphant present, only to have them fall again was a mistake. It’s not so much the fall that hurts the story but the rushed way it is told. The novel moves at a slow pace, giving many sumpuous details and never minding to slip into the past for a revealing story. Yet, when it moves to the future it seems to force things along. You can feel the writer telling his story to point towards his final concluding point, rather than just allow the story to unfold. To really flesh out the future section he would have needed another few hundred pages. I would have preferred him to wrap up the story leaving out the future scenes. He does manage to salvage the conclusion and bring his characters into fully realized beings.

Double Indemnity by James M Cain ****

Of the great trinity of American crime fiction (Dashiel Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Cain) James M Cain is the only one who told his story from the perspective of the criminal rather than the detective. Just as you know in a detective novel that the detective is going to catch the crook, here you know Cain’s criminals are going to be caught. But that doesn’t make you root for them any less. They are sad, pathetic, often cruel and yet strangely sympathetic. Double Indemnity’s lonely insurance man is a schmuck, but there is an everyman charm in his guillibility. Cain writes it as if anybody; your neighbor, brother, or even yourself is just a sly woman away from committing murder and fraud. Tough, gritty and beautiful.

Diary by Chuck Palahniuk * 1/2
Serenade by James M Cain **
How to Be Good by Nick Hornby * 1/2
Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux *** 1/2
The Hound of The Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ***
Nightmare Town by Dashiell Hammett **1/2
Jane Eyre by Chalotte Bronte ****1/2
The Little Sisterby Raymond Chandler ****
I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe ***1/2
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr *****
Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer ***1/2
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway *****
American Tabloid by James Elroy ***1/2
The African Queen by CS Forester **
The Simpsons One Step Beyond Forever: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family…Continued Again

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s