Books chewed and digested

Location: Bay Area, California, United States


Thursday, April 22, 2004

I'll say it. I'm not afraid. The new Stephenson sucks ass
Review by Jake

I guess its not the *new* Stephenson since the second book of the ass-trilogy just came out. I am talking about Quicksilver. A pretentious, plodding pile of crap if there ever was one.

You know how everyone you know (or at least, who I know) has a copy of Ulysses on his shelf, next to that overblown Dan Brown novel and that copy of that Maya Angelou book from college? Its not that its been read, its just a cultural icon that says, I went to college and I like smart things. Nevermind that its unreadable gobbledy gook and that even *if* you slogged through it, you certainly didn't enjoy it. If you did read it, you did so for the same reason that you eat all your greens and tried Yoga--because the less fun it is, the better it is for you. Now I would argue that books like that are the ones that send smart people to be business majors.

Now I should preface this review (even more) by saying that I adore Neal Stephenson. Love him. He definitely makes the list of older dudes that make me giggly. Read Snow Crash and fell in love. Read all the early (and not so good) novels about eco-terrorists and midwest colleges. Liked them too. Gave him to my mom to read. Quote his lines to my geek pals. You get the picture.

Cryptomonicon came along and I was still smitten. A little lengthy perhaps--but we still had that spark together.

Quicksilver was the prom date that yaks up wine coolers in the car on the way to the dance. I bullied myself into reading the first 200 pages telling myself that there was going to be this magic turn around point--this hook that would get me through all the educational crap that he made me learn about science and math geeks. And NOT A GODDAMN thing appeared.

Neal is a smart dude and I am sure that had I read the whole thing and the following two books, I would be a better person. A person who does Yoga. But I'm not. I want a book that keeps me up past 9pm on school nights. So read the series if you want to be able to throw names like Leibniz into your party banter, I am sure you will be the better man for it.

I'll be in the corner rereading Neuromancer.

Bibliovore says it tastes like
organic, wheat-free, sprouted bread or wheat grass juice. It's good for you and you get the moral high ground but it still tastes like shit.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Tim Powers, Declare

The biggest surprises of this book, for me, came after the end of the novel. The first was that many of the characters in the book are based on real people. Not being a spy novel kind of gal, I didn’t know who Kim Philby was nor why I should care. Not knowing didn’t hurt my enjoyment of the novel at all but I was amazed to find out that Powers used every scrap of truth about the real characters that he could dig up. He then built the supernatural pieces to fit into the “real” events.

[The second surprise was that Tim Powers looks nothing like I expected him.]

If you haven’t read any Tim Powers yet then run out and buy Last Call. So far, Last Call is the best and I’ve been slightly disappointed by the others but that hasn’t stopped me from working through the canon. 4 down 7 to go. (I’ve read Last Call, The Drawing of the Dark, Anubis Gates, Declare) For all you RPGers out there – Tim Powers is to literature as Unknown Armies is to RPGs. If you liked Neil Gaiman’s American Gods or Neverwhere then you’ll like Powers. Same kind of unassuming regular Joe heroes getting caught up in un-, sub- or supernatural forces, saving the day and getting the girl in the end. I like that I can depend on Powers not to get too Lovecraftian.

Declare is lots of fun. Just as well researched as The Davinci Code without being as pedantic. Better plot twists. Reminded me a little of The Eight (Katherine Neville) only far far better written. OK don’t read The Eight it’s not nearly as good as it should be even though it’s all about chess which is cool.

Bibliovore says it tastes like:
The kind of candy you tell your mother is really nutritious. Like peanut brittle – peanuts have lots of protein and that good kind of fat you’re supposed to eat. Or a Tiger’s Milk Bar – remember those? Sugar, peanut butter and vitamins, mmmm. I could always talk my mother into one of those.

Greetings. I hereby succumb to the blog pressure.

I promise to keep the navel gazing and politics to a minimum.

What I learned in college was how to compare and contrast 2 novels in 7 pages. I was pretty damn good at it too. I learned pretty quickly, however, that corporations do not need novels compared or contrasted - not even in bullet point format. Corporations, on the other hand, pay pretty well.

This blog is my opportunity to once again write about the books I read. This time I get to pick the books. Hopefully, I will be able to twist my friends' arms for some reviews as well.

I promise to keep the pretentiousness factor down. I promise to write about a wide variety of books.