Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Not really a review...
... more like an amalgam of excuses. Off we go.
Weeks ago, I printed photos to make fbs. The photos are still printed and waiting for me to find time, and time and quiet cannot be found even if I used bait, a torch and a GPS. So I have been reading books. These are not exactly reviews, but as close to it as they can be, given the heat and circumstances.
I have over 100 books in one huge pile labeled "unread". Some belong to a friend who wanted to thin out her collection. Some belong to me and I haven't read them. Yet. That is what I say to myself. "Yet." I haven't read them yet, but I will. Most likely when the planet Venus grows a mustache.
When my head feels like mush and I can't really write or do something productive like correcting, I read. I am a fast reader, too. In Greek I manage about 100 pages in one hour. In English it goes down to about 50, maybe a little more lately. Usually I finish a normal book in a day, two at most. But I am so ludicrously busy that reading is reserved for those days I am too bummed out to do anything else.
We begin with...
1. Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell
I just flicked through the first pages to see what it was about, and continued reading, and then read some more, and before I knew it I was halfway through. Imagine Quentin Tarantino meeting ER, or rather, colliding with ER and getting out of the broken and burning jumble none the wiser. The protagonist is an ex-mafia member who presently works as doctor. He looks like “an Easter Island sculpture of a longshoreman”. The book is written in first person and the language reflects the protagonist as the disillusioned, no-decorum, self-sarcastic tough guy he is. He's profane, grumpy, funny and brilliant in his simplicity.
The book begins with him getting mugged on the way to work. He beats his attacker black and blue, then drops him unconscious at ER. He regularly pops Dexedrine tablets as a way to deal with the insane workload of the hospital, while we discover details on his previous life through flashbacks. One of the nurses tells him “You are cute” and Dr. Brown thinks, “If by cute she means brutal and stupid-looking (which from experience, that’s what most women mean), she is right”. When a patient with cancer who's also a mobster recognises him, our doctor realises the witness protection program can't really help him anymore and he must take care of things himself.
Don't expect credibility, although the book has a lot of very interesting footnotes on medical subjects. Expect outrageous, fast and hilarious, with gruesome details on people's insides and the incompetence of the US medical system. If the mere thought of germs makes you scratch yourself furiously, keep away from it.
2. Daemon Eyes by Camille Bacon-Smith
I read five pages. I found missing full stops, missing paragraph breaks, dialogue confusion. Forgive me for being perhaps harsh, but I expect to see that level in a fanzine. Not in a published book. I did not bother further with it; sent it to a friend in Portugal.
3. Review for the Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Read this BEAUTIFUL review on Neil Gaiman's latest book, which I have not bought yet, as I avoid hardcovers for lack of space:
Mr. Gaiman says it's his favourite review so far and I can understand why. I wish one day my skill in English will produce such gorgeous, sensitive, elegant language. Until that day I'll struggle with prepositions, tenses and comas. :P
4. Cravings by Laurell K. Hamilton et al.
Let me begin this review by saying that I don't understand why some authors contribute parts of already existent books instead of writing short stories. This is what Hamilton's contribution is in this book, a part from one of her Anita Blake novels. It's funny at first, even sensual. It very soon becomes the well known tiresome charade "I am a good girl, and good girls don't fuck" which is so characteristic of the Anita series. If Anita spent less time trying not to touch someone she feels attracted to and more time fucking the living daylights out of them, it would be much more productive. She's going to fuck them anyway, so what's up with the virgin shtick and the morality working overtime 24/7?
Mary Janice Davidson:
I felt like I was reading a romance story written by a fourteen year old girl desperately trying to sound cool and hype. It was so irritating and the one character so stupid that I managed to read three pages before moving on to the next one. I imagine some readers like that style, each to their own I guess.
Begins and then forgets to end. Some interesting ideas, but failed to keep my interest for long. It was dragging on and on.
Perhaps the most well written, suffering from the "I make the characters come together, than break up, then come together once more, then have another dramatic break up, then unwilling male protagonist jumps in and saves the helpless female protagonist and they go steady" plot. Complete with a hero with a tortured past and a dark secret.
Gave it away to the same friend from Portugal. Eeeesh. If these are "sensuous stories from today's most provocative authors", I dread to think of the milestone this book represents in modern literature.