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For when your thoughts are drifting to things not so movie, or if you're feeling trivially inclined.
591

Books! Books! Books! Has anyone read these? What did you think of them?
Topic by: hamano
Posted: May 17, 2006 - 6:04 AM PDT
Last Reply: June 2, 2007 - 12:46 PM PDT

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author topic: Books! Books! Books! Has anyone read these? What did you think of them?
hamano
post #1  on May 17, 2006 - 6:04 AM PDT  
I'm thinking of getting a book for Father's Day... Has anyone read these books? What did you think?

The Assassins' Gate by George Packer.

Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet by James Mann

31 Days : The Crisis That Gave Us the Government We Have Today by Barry Werth
hamano
post #2  on May 17, 2006 - 7:48 AM PDT  
Oh, how about this one?

The New American Empire by Rodrigue Trembley

I've never heard of this Trembley guy... is he Canadian?
underdog
post #3  on May 17, 2006 - 11:24 AM PDT  
Yay, books!

I'm finding the real world too depressing these days to read much non-fiction, but the latest collection of stories by one of my favorite fiction writers, George Saunders, "In Persuasion Nation," is a pretty acerbic satire on this here messed up country of ours. It's also often screamingly funny. When it isn't disturbing. Highly recommended. (I saw him read last week and spoke to him for a few minutes afterwards. Great guy. Really inspiring in my own writing.)

hamano
post #4  on May 17, 2006 - 11:51 AM PDT  
Oh, that sounds perfect for a friend whose birthday is coming up next week... I'll have to look it up.
^_^
woozy
post #5  on May 17, 2006 - 11:55 AM PDT  
> On May 17, 2006 - 11:24 AM PDT underdog wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Yay, books!
>
Well, if we're allowed to broaden the topic to "Read any good books lately" (Sorry, hamano, I have neither read nor heard anything about your specific titles) I'll comment that I haven't been reading very much lately but the last thing I did read was Christopher Moore's latest, A Dirty Job. The guy still has it. (I was beginning to wonder after "Fluke") Very funny, very creative. Not as much sex as he usually has but it's kind of nice to read Moore's description of a guy who isn't getting any for a change. And it features the return of Minty Fresh, one of my favorite Moore minor characters (based on the name alone).

Anyhoo, Moore fans won't need convincing and new comers to Moore ... well, I recommend this book but suggest you might try some of his earlier books first. Moore's earlier books read a bit like a street-smart Douglas Adams but he's more ... there. His humor is more character-based and situational, rather then clever jokes and witticism. His later books are broader and almost (but don't quite) enter the category of "real literature".

This book is about... well, read the blurb, Death and a poor sap beta-male sucked into the job of collecting souls while running a second hand store (there's a running theme of second hand stores, used book stores, and used record stores, being a repository of lost souls) and being a single father and seriously needing to get laid.

(It's not his best work but it's certainly "really good". If I were to recommend a Moore book to a first time reader I'd probably recommend either "The island of the sequined love nun" which I think is his most original {about airplanes, pacific cargo cults, and cut throat beaticians} or "The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove" which I think is his funniest {about a prehistoric sea monster who feeds off the brain patterns of the depressed who have recently been taken off their medication} but they are all good.)
Ursus
post #6  on May 17, 2006 - 12:07 PM PDT  
Sorry Ham n'Eggs,
My brain is the consistency of dish soap at the moment. This semester was one lOOOOOng kick in the "testicular fortitude." As such I am sticking with non-fiction till I start teaching inorganic chem. to the undergrads in a week.

My sister-in-law (whom it HATE almost as much as I do spiders and conservatives) recommended a wonderful series of books (yes, aimed at kids) by Michael Hoeye about the adventures of a mouse named Hermux Tantamoq, a watch maker by trade who becomes a slueth. It reminds me of Agatha Christie's "Poirot" (which I really like... I dig Christie), only the lead is a mouse. He has three books to date, but they are a great read. Most enjoyable. Your kids would probably dig them as well, seeing as they are books for young adults.
hamano
post #7  on May 17, 2006 - 12:16 PM PDT  
> On May 17, 2006 - 11:24 AM PDT underdog wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> one of my favorite fiction writers, George Saunders, "In Persuasion Nation," is a pretty acerbic satire on this here messed up country of ours.

So underdog, if you had to qualify Saunders's writing as one or the other, would you say they are "sweet" or "sardonic, cynical" in the end?

Ursus, thanks for the recommendations. Have you read the Golden Compass trilogy by Philip Pullman? There's a helpful bear in those stories... of course he's a viscious armored polar bear with 10 inch claws that can cut through metal, but he's fluffy and cute.
hamano
post #8  on May 17, 2006 - 12:35 PM PDT  
Alas, my local library system only has one book by George Saunders, something about the Reign of Phil. There are three of those mouse detective books, though. Pastoralis and Gappers of Frip have been translated into Japanese, apparently.
Battie
post #9  on May 17, 2006 - 12:49 PM PDT  
Been wanting to read Assassin's Gate. Never heard of the others.

What about American Theocracy?
underdog
post #10  on May 17, 2006 - 1:05 PM PDT  
> On May 17, 2006 - 12:16 PM PDT hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> > On May 17, 2006 - 11:24 AM PDT underdog wrote:
> > ---------------------------------
> > one of my favorite fiction writers, George Saunders, "In Persuasion Nation," is a pretty acerbic satire on this here messed up country of ours.
>
> So underdog, if you had to qualify Saunders's writing as one or the other, would you say they are "sweet" or "sardonic, cynical" in the end?
>

The great thing about Saunders is his work is often poignant even as it's really dark. I wouldn't call it sweet (though some of the characters ultimately behave sweetly). Some of the stories end pretty darkly; you should read CivilWarLand in Bad Decline - the title story of which, like several other stories of his, is set in a fictional theme park that's gone horribly awry. Some of his pieces end cynically and some end on a bit of a up note, but pretty much all of them end perfectly.

Sorry your library has him in short supply. Try a used book store; you may luck out.

Woozy, funny you mention Christopher Moore because I was just re-reading his older book, Coyote Blue, which I always enjoyed. I love Practical Demonkeeping, too (Battie, you may like that one) and that Island of the... Nun. Just a really fun writer.
woozy
post #11  on May 17, 2006 - 1:17 PM PDT  
> My sister-in-law (whom it HATE almost as much as I do spiders and conservatives) recommended a wonderful series of books (yes, aimed at kids) by Michael Hoeye about the adventures of a mouse named Hermux Tantamoq, a watch maker by trade who becomes a slueth.

Ah, I read those. Very cute and quite good. The type of books kids love but most adults are aren't intelligent enough but think they are too intelligent to write.

hamano
post #12  on May 17, 2006 - 1:26 PM PDT  
> On May 17, 2006 - 12:07 PM PDT Ursus wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> My sister-in-law (whom it HATE almost as much as I do spiders and conservatives)

Whoa, why do you HATE your sister-in-law? Did she trick your innocent brother into marrying her to steal the family fortune or something? Wicked witch of the west? Did she eat all your honey?
woozy
post #13  on May 17, 2006 - 1:38 PM PDT  
> Woozy, funny you mention Christopher Moore because I was just re-reading his older book, Coyote Blue, which I always enjoyed.

I reread Coyote Blue a little while ago. That's another of his really good ones and one's I'd recommend to start with (they are *all* good).

Coyote Blue, for those who want to get a sample of what this whacko writes about, is about a Santa Barbara lawyer who as a child had run away from the Crow Indian reservation but has now completely assimilated and is running away from his past, one day discovers the trickster Coyote insistantly hanging around him. Coyote Blue introduces the minor character, MF, an incrediable intimidating looking seven foot Casino bouncer. He plays a larger role in "A Dirty Job" and I loved seeing him again.

Might as well mention a favorite of Sonja Blue's and mine: "Blood Sucking Fiends" which in a word, is about vampires. It's set in San Francisco and features the Emperor of San Francisco, Emperor Norton set to modern day (and sentiment). The Emperor reappears in "A Dirty Job" and even the vampire Jody makes an unnamed cameo.

And I guess I might as well round it off. "Lamb" is his biography of Christ told by his childhood chum, Biff. Biff and Josh were your basic coming of age pals. Biff had street smarts and wanted to pick up girls and Josh was the son of God and liked to bring lizards back to live by sucking on them. Lamb is maybe my favorite but it's his longest, most ambitious, and most unusual book so I didn't want to recommend it to start.

"Fluke" is Chris Moores absolute worst book. That means it's really good and a fun and entertaining read. It's about whales. Features a funny rasta wannabe white boy surfer bum lab assistant and the cutest most innocent situation of professor to young grad student lechery, I've ever read. Good thing she turns out... no, I won't give it away.

"The stupidest angel" and "The stupidest angel 2.0" (which is probably the sleaziest attempt of revamping holiday marketting) is a really funny christmas store of Moore's best characters dealing with zombies and an undead Santa on Christmas Eve. ("2.0" is just 1.0 with a short story about a serial killer tacked on to the end.) Very funny but its really a Christmas special for Moore fans so I didn't recommend it to new comers either.
hamano
post #14  on May 17, 2006 - 1:52 PM PDT  
A Houston Astros pitcher got a standing ovation for hitting Barry Bonds in the shoulder with a dead ball?
underdog
post #15  on May 17, 2006 - 2:01 PM PDT  
> On May 17, 2006 - 1:52 PM PDT hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> A Houston Astros pitcher got a standing ovation for hitting Barry Bonds in the shoulder with a dead ball?
> ---------------------------------


Well... that was a non-sequitur. Or are you reading the book about Bonds and steroids? I did see that live yesterday, btw, seemed pretty tasteless on the Houston crowd's part. I guess because he'd almost hit Bonds once earlier that was enough to get tossed. Bonds tends to crowd the plate but hitting him seemed pretty dumb.
hamano
post #16  on May 17, 2006 - 2:05 PM PDT  
> On May 17, 2006 - 2:01 PM PDT underdog wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Well... that was a non-sequitur.

I thought it was appropriate to the absurd/surreal nature of some of the books we're discussing (including the ones about Bush's cabinet)... also it just popped up on All Things Considered, NPR...
^_^
Ursus
post #17  on May 17, 2006 - 3:00 PM PDT  
She is evil. And not in the cute and cuddly, nor comedic sense. She would give the witch of the waste a run for her money. She is quite intelligent, manipulative, borderline, and... EVIL!!! I would try driving a stake through her heart but I am affraid that would only serve to "aggrivate" her.





> On May 17, 2006 - 1:26 PM PDT hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> > On May 17, 2006 - 12:07 PM PDT Ursus wrote:
> > ---------------------------------
> > My sister-in-law (whom it HATE almost as much as I do spiders and conservatives)
>
> Whoa, why do you HATE your sister-in-law? Did she trick your innocent brother into marrying her to steal the family fortune or something? Wicked witch of the west? Did she eat all your honey?
> ---------------------------------

hamano
post #18  on May 17, 2006 - 3:23 PM PDT  
> On May 17, 2006 - 3:00 PM PDT Ursus wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> She is quite intelligent, manipulative, borderline, and... EVIL!!!

And yet she's good with book recommendations... She can't be PURELY evil if she likes cute mouse detectives. I wonder what you'd get if you type her name into the Gematriculator...

Oh, dear, it seems to be offline. Or your sister-in-law found out about it!!
Battie
post #19  on May 17, 2006 - 5:00 PM PDT  
> On May 17, 2006 - 2:01 PM PDT underdog wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Well... that was a non-sequitur. Or are you reading the book about Bonds and steroids? I did see that live yesterday, btw, seemed pretty tasteless on the Houston crowd's part. I guess because he'd almost hit Bonds once earlier that was enough to get tossed. Bonds tends to crowd the plate but hitting him seemed pretty dumb.
> ---------------------------------

Wait...did you actually suggest a crowd from Texas, and SOUTHERN Texas at that, should have taste? Ha, right.
hamano
post #20  on May 17, 2006 - 5:51 PM PDT  
Ah, Houston has some GREAT restaurants...
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