OTHER THINGS IN THE WORLD THAN MUSIC > Art and Literature, Movies and TV

Now Reading, pt 2

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Thanks for the info about The Circle -- that's one I'm interested in checking out.

I've read so much great stuff lately. I need to write up a few brief reviews and recommendations.

Margaret Atwood - Oryx and Crake
Fiction. Oryx and Crake is a story about Snowman--one of the last surviving humans in a post-apocalyptic age. The story opens with him going on an adventure in which we learn about, through Snowman's recollections, the series of events that led to the sudden demise of humanity. I was hoping to enjoy this more, having liked The Handmaid's Tale a lot when I read it in college. The book has some truly great moments, but the motivations behind the characters are not well developed.

David Baldacci - Absolute Power
A solid, fast-paced thriller. My wife told me there was a movie for this one; I'll have to check it out now. The basic gist is that, while robbing a house, a thief becomes an unintentional witnesses a murder. Like a lot of Baldacci's work, what makes this clever is that there is no "mystery" or "who done it" per se. The story begins with an extraordinary situation and the "thrill" is how that situation unfolds.

Philip K. Dick - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Yup, I'm over 40 years old and hadn't read this until recently. I don't know if this would be considered heresy around here with the on-going Vangelis ‎discussion, but I liked the book better than the Blade Runner movie.

Jonathan Safran Foer - Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
A story about a young boy, Oskar Schell, who is coping with the loss of his father. He discovers a key in his father's belongings, along with the simple word "Black", and undertakes a quest to visit every Black in the NYC phone book to see if they know anything about the key or what it might unlock. This book has super interesting characters, some great one-liners, and is charming in all the right ways.

I recently finished The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, and I'm most of the way through the second book in the series, A Wise Man's Fear. These are part of the Kingkiller Chronicles, a fantasy trilogy you've probably heard of if you're interested in the genre. Rothfuss has been referred to as a young George R.R. Martin. I'm not sure that comparison is apt, in that Rothfuss's writing has a very different tone than Martin's, but it makes sense in that Rothfuss's stories, like Martin's, stand apart from the cookie-cutter similarity of so much epic fantasy.

These follow the story of the multi-talented Kvothe, who would seem capable of succeeding at anything he attempted, except that his own ego and stubbornness often cause him trouble, from childhood to the university and into the world. At the beginning of the story, Kvothe has been discovered living in hiding under a different name by a scribe who wishes to write down his true story. Kvothe tells the tale in his own voice, and this comprises most of the novels, with brief interludes back in the tavern where Kvothe is posing as proprietor. It's interesting to keep revisiting the present, getting perspective on what Kvothe has been through and how it ended up for him in the present.

I'd recommend these books for anyone interested in sensitive and well-written fantasy with more emphasis on academia, books and storytelling than combat and war. Five years passed between the first book and the second, so we're not likely to see the third book until 2015 or 2016.


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