Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Canary Trainer, by Nicholas Meyer

I believe this is the final Nicholas Meyer Holmes book, I've read all three now.  The first (7% Solution) I really liked, the second (Westend Horror) I hated, and this third was good but not great. 

The Passage, by Justin Cronin

I was curious about this book since reading a few reviews in the WSJ and Washington Post, both favorable.  For the first third of the book I could see why it had received such good reviews.  The character development, sense of foreboding, overall storytelling, all were fantastic.  Then the book takes a strange jump 100 years in the future, and character development comes to a close.  I plowed through the rest of the book, but didn't enjoy it very much. 
I had no idea it was set up as a multi-volume (trilogy?) but I doubt if I'll continue with the series.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Hole, by Guy Burt

I went to the public library to pick up Justin Cronin's book The Passage which I had on hold.  When I got there the book wasn't ready yet, so I looked at my list of books to read and noticed Guy Burt's After The Hole.  The public library didn't have that book, but it did have The Hole.  I thought, well, I guess The Hole is the first book, and After The Hole a follow up, so I might as well read this one first. 

Quick internet searches told me, however, that The Hole/After The Hole are the same book (US/UK versions I think), and this short novel took me just a few hours to read.  It wasn't as scary or disturbing as the reviews had led me to believe, but it was a good read and the epilogue ending (which reminded me of The Handmaid's Tail) changed the meaning of all that had come before it.  I thought it strange that 5 teens could be alone in a hole for so many days without sexual activity (well the main story does tell of one such event), especially with all the drinking.  But many of the clues were there and when you read the epilogue more of the horror of the events can be read between the lines.

Not the best book, certainly not the scariest or most disturbing.  But a fun read a certainly a hell of a first book written by a then 18 year old.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Earth Abides, by George R Stewart

For a while now I've read praise about this book as I waited for it to come available at my local library.  At last my hold at the library came through (they bought two new copies) and I was able to see what everyone was talking about.  Well I didn't love it.  I suspect had I read it in 1949 when it came out, or even 1959, or possiby even 1969, it would have been of more interest to me.  But this book just didn't grab me. 
Now it might be one of the more accurate descriptions of what would really happen if 99% of the human race were wiped out over a few weeks by a plague.  But that doesn't make it particularly interesting.  Many of the favorable reviews note how haunting the book was or how they still think about passages years (or decades) later.  I don't know, there were some interesting parts, particularly in the beginning, describing how huge numbers of aminals that were penned up or otherwise depended on man died off pretty miserably.  But for the most part I felt like very little happened in this book, and I was more relived than anything when I finally finished.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The New Annotated Dracula, Edited by Leslie Klinger

I received a BN gift card from my mother-in-law which was enough to cover this volume which I've had my eye on for a while. I loved Klinger's New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, so I was curious to see what this Dracula volume would be like.

I've of course read Dracula before, but it's not a personal favorite. I liked it, but I've never been a huge vampire fan otherwise. Even Buffy, the show that all librarians are supposed to have followed religiously (ha!) was nothing I watched when it originally aired on TV. I admit that I did rectify that later, two of the other librarians I work with were crazy about the show and eventually got me to watch it in reruns, and dammit if I didn't get hooked (although I never followed up with the Angel spin off).

Well that's a really long way of saying that I wasn't sure what these annotations would look like or if they would even interest me. Well Klinger didn't disappoint, this volume was fantastic. The annotations were great, just like with the Holmes volumes, but this volume shines for me in two specific areas: One, the introduction and then numerous exhibits by Klinger that delve into how the story came to be (again like the Holmes volumes, this book is written as if Dracula is a work of, or at least based off, nonfiction events) and the impact of the book in various other works. Two, the theories about Dracula's survival and the motives of the various other characters, especially the (suspect) Doctors Van Helsing and Seward.

Just as with the Holmes volumes you're either going to love this kind of thing or hate it, I doubt if there is any in between. I just find this stuff fascinating. I took a train up to NYC recently and despite the large size of the volume I brought it with me. I sat on the train (both up and back) with this book like I was studying for a final (or perhaps "researching my own book"). Pouring over the annotations, back and forth through the cross-referencing, etc. You either really enjoy this kind of thing or you don't.

Paying such close attention to a book could have its problems for the editor, I suppose. I did find one mistake (a typo, I believe) but you only have to look at a few of my blog entries to see I'm not a member of the grammar police.

I still have two of the Holmes novels left in the Klinger annotated version, I've been trying to save those for a time when I can really enjoy them just as I've done with this new annotated Dracula.