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books i read 2004- 1st quarter [Apr. 13th, 2004|03:02 am]
Just me.
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[mood |read all ways with read]

Okay, I'm going to try this a little differently this year. Instead of posting in January 2005 everything I read in 2004, I'll post it quarterly with a few comments. I can't manage to do the monthly reports of what I read like some of you book hounds.

Everything marked "audio" is an unabridged Book on tape, because abridgments suck monkey ass.

What I read Jan-March 2004:

non fiction:

The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time by Douglas Adams (audio)
collected essays, magazine articles and fragments from his harddrive. good but he repeats a lot of the same jokes/anecdotes in many pieces, which gets tedious.

Positively Fifth Street: Murderers, Cheetahs, and Binion's World Series of Poker James McManus (audio)
Gonzo journalism in which a writer assigned to cover the world series of Poker (and a murder trial of a casino big-wig) decides to enter the high-stakes tournament and does a lot better than you think he would. Passes lara's ultimate Non-fiction test: "does the book make a topic I previously cared nothing about seem interesting and compelling?" riveting.

Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal -- by Eric Schlosser
Scary. Prescient. Published before mad cow appeared in this country but saw it coming. also interesting from a labor/econ point of view.

What Should I Do with My Life? : The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question -- by Po Bronson
recommended by holyoutlaw. inspiring. favorite segment: the aimless teen trying to figure out his college major gets a letter from the Dalai Lama saying, "hey, you're a reincarnation of a holy figure, get your butt over to the monastary, Rinpoche". And you thought your career path was convoluted!

In the Little World : A True Story of Dwarfs, Love, and Trouble by John H. Richardson.
recommended by theda. A look at the world of the Little People of America (you know, midgets, although dwarf is the prefered term now), their annual convention, and how much they hate inspirational magazine features of the "famous local Dwarf has big heart but little body" type. Book is sympathetic to dwarf issues but unafraid to show dwarves as just as petty or screwed up as you or me.

fiction:

Cropper's Cabin- Jim Thompson
I'll read anything of his. up to par.

Dead white Female - Lauren Henderson
"Tart noir" UK mystery. guilty pleasure for me.

The Secret History- Donna Tartt (audio)
Authors should rarely narrate their own books. If you are a woman author born in Mississippi and your first novel is in the POV of a Californian guy at a wealthy Vermont college, you look like a jackass/prima donna for not letting a professional reader narrate your book. While I'm being catty, okay first novel, but would have benefited from editing out 100 or so pages. Glad the era of the "Bennington novel" (Easton Ellis, Janowitz, McIrnerney, Tartt, etc) seems to be over.

The Far Cry- Frederic Brown
See Jim Thompson entry.

Torso: A true Crime graphic novel- Brian Bendis
okay art but sloppy research for a true story that relies heavily on newspaper clippings from the time: Bendis has the killer sending postcards to Elliot Ness and clearly shows us the postcard' s address- including a fucking ZIP CODE! (which would not be invented for 20-30 years after the story takes place). Sloppy, sloppy. Maybe the average 16 year old comix fan can ignore such things but I can't stand blatant anachronism in my true crime.

The Sparrow - Maria Doria Russell
Jesuits in Space. kinda religious in theme but not in an offputting way. Great character development.

American Gods- Neil Gaiman (audio)
Fun book, good reading. Basic premise: immigrants come to the US over the centuries and bring their gods and beliefs over, but what happens to the gods when people assimilate and or/stop believing? Answer: they lose power, and they aren't very happy about it.

Fear and Trembling- Amelie Nothomb
recommended by futch. Autobiographical novel of french girl who speaks Japanese who goes to work for big company in Japan in the late 80's; culture clashes ensue. Comic but also kinda creepy. Made me think corporate America wasn't so bad, comparatively.

Children of god- Maria Doria Russell
Sequel to The Sparrow. Eh. so-so. starts off good but at the end I was wishing she'd left the first one alone.

The Book of Illusions- Paul Auster (audio)
birthday gift from futch. I'd never read Auster; this one was pretty good. Nice blend of tragedy and insight into the creative impulse. Read by the author, who's actually not too bad at narration. Reading futch's LJ and noticing his recent obsession with silent films; it was fun to be reading this at the same time, as the plot revolves around a man uncovering the life story of a mostly forgotten silent comedian.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: repoman
2004-04-13 07:23 am (UTC)
I first heard of Jim McManus thanks to This American Life. Then I read the article in Harpers Magazine. I have to say I'm damn interested in reading the book...

I been reading Paul Auster for years and think he's a pretty solid writer. He used to have a radio show where he would read, on the air, people's writing submissions and offer advice. I have no idea whatever happened with it...As for Jim Thompson, he is, without a doubt, one of my favorite all-time writers. I can't count the number of times I've read Roughneck or Pop. 1280.

I will have to check out Fear and Trembling along with What Should I Do With My Life. Both sound damn interesting...

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[User Picture]From: holyoutlaw
2004-04-14 01:35 am (UTC)
I like Jim Thompson a lot, but you knew that already.

I read Fast Food Nation a couple years ago. The passages talking about meat processing really got to me, but not enough to make me a vegetarian (although I do look for organic meats whenever possible).

Glad you liked WSIDWML.
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From: ex_futch238
2004-04-14 01:24 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed the Auster. As I mentioned not his best, but the only one I could locate on tape that was not abridged. Still a nice blend of tragedy, comedy, insight, etc... Abridged books do suck monkey ass.

The Nothomb is not her best either, but it is a funny little quick read. Nothomb is French and did go to Japan and work at a corporation where she suffered the treatment. Apparently in Japanese corporations it's considered wrong to fire someone so they get the treatment instead. Supposedly there is little exaggeration for comic effect in this book.

I'm not much familiar with the other stuff you have listed. I've read Thompson, but not that particular novel.

I started a Gaiman once, but could not get into it at all. It was probably the wrong one for me. I should look into "American Gods".

I'll jot some of these other titles down to check into next time I go to the library.

A librarian and a reader! Impressive.
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