ntang (ntang) wrote,

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Reading List

Here's what I've been reading recently:

Liquor by Poppy Z. Brite - 4/5

As I mentioned earlier, an interesting departure from her usual vampire/ghost/gay sex/drug/orgy/drunken stupor novels. There's basically almost none of any of that in this, except some drinking. The book is about two New Orleans chefs/ friends/ lovers, and the only real porn it includes is food porn - but it's got a lot of that. The book is a little pulpy at times in terms of plot and intrigue, but is a fun, gripping read and worth the time.

Prime by Poppy Z. Brite - 4/5

The continuing story of the same two chefs. The plot continues to be occasionally a bit over the top, but the book makes for some great reading, and of course, the food porn is again a major highlight. I'm eagerly awaiting the next in the series (currently still being written, so it'll be a while).

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore - 4/5

When I first started reading it, I have to admit, it didn't grab me. It was amusing, and interesting, but seemed not quite funny enough to be a humor novel and not quite serious enough to be considered anything more thoughtful. But then it grew on me, and somehow, he began not only making me laugh but actually care about the characters. I can't say the book was fantastic, but by the end I was thoroughly enjoying it. I won't spoil the plot, but in it, Biff and Joshua (aka Jesus Christ) go on a series of journeys and through a series of experiences that teach Joshua how to be the Messiah without messing it up royally. It's not quite as funny as you might expect, but it has some real pathos in it - like I said, by the end I genuinely was caring about the characters, which was something I hadn't been expecting.

the curious incident of the dog in the night-time by Mark Haddon - 4.5/5

This is a short book, and done in an interesting style - it's basically written from the point of view of an autistic child. The author apparently worked with autistic children for a while, and it shows. The book does a remarkable job of expressing the thoughts and feelings of the hero, Christopher, without feeling like it's either glorifying him or showing any disdain towards him. I don't know enough about autism to know how accurate it actually is, but it certainly reads in a believable way. It's full of quirky little details, showing the maps the boy makes, numbering the chapters with prime numbers instead of the standard ordinals 1, 2, 3... it's fascinating and fun, regardless, and my only complaint is that it doesn't last any longer.

Terry Jones's War on the War on Terror: Observations and Denunciations by a Founding Member of Monty Python by Terry Jones - 2.5/5

This book is actually a collection of essays by Terry Jones, written for various magazines and newspapers, mostly from 2003, some from 2004. I wanted to like this more than I did - and it started off very, very strong. But the entire middle 1/2 of the book was just repeating the same series of points (some of which don't carry a lot of weight nowadays, regardless of what they might have meant a couple of years ago, which is when most of them were written). It picked up a little towards the end, but honestly, it felt pretty tired and pointless by that point already. Borrow this one, read the first couple of essays, laugh hysterically, and then return it. You'll get more out of it that way.

The Jerusalem Syndrome by Marc Maron - 4/5

Surprisingly well done, actually. I wasn't sure what to expect - he's a comedian, after all, not a writer, and being able to express yourself on stage doesn't necessarily translate onto the written page. He manages to pull it off, though, and nicely. The book is the story of his life, essentially, how he got where he is now (or was at the time of the writing). The Jerusalem Syndrome refers to an apparently common reaction to traveling to Israel - feeling like you are the "direct vessel(s) for the voice of God". Of course, in his case, the Jerusalem Syndrome starts as a child and doesn't end until he gets to Israel (after climaxing in Israel, he realizes by the end of the trip that he's not actually the Messiah). He's got a wonderful way of describing things, though - listen to this quote, pulled essentially at random from the book, about Sam Kinison:

"Sam fancied himself a combination of Jesus, Elvis, and Satan. They were his heroes. He was a lapsed Baptist preacher with a bone to pick with God. He thought of himself as the Beast. You really had to see him live to get the full effect. He had the charisma and momentum of a human meteor. He was the comedic equivalent of pure rock 'n' roll. He elevated the frustrated suffering of the brokenhearted mortal man to anarchic hilarity. He could push an audience over the edge of their own moral parameters, throw them a line, pull them back, then push them farther off the second time. This was the technique that most interested me. It was the reason I became an aspiring adept in the Sam school. I wanted to hone the antisocial part of my personality into a craft that could earn me a living."

It's not the best one by far, but I literally just opened to a random page and chose the paragraph from that page. You get the idea.

And currently, I'm reading:
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

I'm not far enough in to judge this one yet.

Also, on the side, I started (but put aside temporarily):
Out by Natsuo Kirino

Out is interesting so far, but it's a Japanese murder mystery/ suspense/ etc. book, and as such looks like it's got the potential to get quite twisted. It's already starting down that road, and right now, I don't really feel like dealing with twisted and deranged, so I'm putting it aside until I'm more in the mood for it.

Of course, this in addition to my usual diet of New York Magazine, Time Out New York, US News & World Report, National Geographic Adventure, Saveur, and the occasional New York Review of Books. Yes, I've been reading up a storm - this in addition to everything else on my plate recently. I suppose it's a good thing in some ways, but honestly, I'd trade the "productivity" I get from insomnia for the feeling of actually getting a full night of sleep once in a while. I'm tired of being tired. But anyways...

(Muchas gracias to irnbruise for several of the books on that list!)
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