Books Thread

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beantownbubba
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Re: Books Thread

Post by beantownbubba »

Back w/ a bang, shakes! Welcome!!
What used to be is gone and what ought to be ought not to be so hard

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Shakespeare
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Re: Books Thread

Post by Shakespeare »

thank you sir. i just might test that by catching this thread up on everything since january

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Shakespeare
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Re: Books Thread

Post by Shakespeare »

i think this should catch me up. some of these id kinda forgotten about, even if i liked them.

needless to say there is a trend here

(i had all these reviews saved elsewhere so if nobody reads this thats fine!)

some spoilers, fair warning

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didnt make it very far. i was excited for a sprawling crime epic a la count of monte cristo but the writing felt like a children's book and it was just a weird vibe I couldn't get any reading momentum going with. will try again

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also short and sweet, except instead of sweet lets go with unfathomably bleak. loved it, the sympathetic lowlife, the double crossings, the absurd yet believable twists.

then finished this anthology:
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moon didnt really do much for me. started with a decent premise, about a man trying to find out what/who caused his sisters rape/suicide, but its main character was hard to get a read on and nothing that developed from there really made an impact.

street was incredible though, maybe the best ive read in the genre so far. an ex-star singer is framed for the murder of a cop. the narrative works both backward and forward from there with one of those perfect plots where everything seemingly tied into everything else. slightly longer than the rest of the stories here but it earned every page. shocking this one took several decades to get the movie treatment.

id rank these street>burglar>passage>nightfall>moon. great collection overall. nightfall and moon may have suffered most just from being the two i wasnt able to read in one day

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enjoyed this. the gentle small town cop everyone loves....not so gentle!

ultimately seemed a little tame by now standards but i can imagine it was a real shocker back then. first person was a nice twist from the other noirs ive read lately

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bit of a true romance vibe here. Definitely a more methodical pace to the writing, takes about half it's length to really set things up, but still the kind of story that gives you plenty of hints where it's possibly going but settles nothing until the final page. Loved it!

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didnt finish. Had high hopes cuz I've never read any chandler and I want to see the movie eventually but I made it about a hundred pages in and it remained kinda boring

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I'd say it was a little better as a movie cuz there was an added layer of bleakness a book couldn't deliver, but as a standalone crime novel it's still one of the best I've read

Just about no redeeming characters, everyone out to fuck over anyone possible, magnificent stuff.

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despite being maybe her most famous character i had no idea there were 4 more books with this lad until about halfway through. wish i hadnt learned that cuz it definitely took a bunch of story possibilities off the table as i read this, but i still liked the book a lot. her focus on an extremely privileged class of people was a nice change of pace from the usual dirtbags in a crime novel

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this was a stunner. The last page!

Bit of a cheap twist and not entirely necessary or believable, but managed to flip the tone of the entire book (which had already flipped a lot of general noir staples) in 5 words with almost no time to recover before the end. no small feat!

Enjoyed the book a lot, both the romance half (my noir sweet spot) and the more psychodrama focused second half.

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Didn't quite love this one. Picked up a lot of steam towards it's very good finale so I wouldn't call it bad by any means, but it was a bit undercooked. There was a vaguely romantic central plot, with a spicy downfall in the male protagonists past, but neither aspect was really played up enough and add in the books main storyline and it all came off sorta random.

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didnt make it very far. goofy slapstick, just couldnt get into it at all

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Good story in there but way too much pointlessly meandering dialogue. Frustrating because when higgins decided to focus on the narrative it was great.

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wasnt expecting much out of this as a series, but this was good! definitely required suspending a lot more disbelief than the first one but still a largely captivating thriller. worked pretty well as a standalone book, which i wasnt expecting


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cant say i really cared much for that! its a murder mystery (a genre i cant really get into. feels too much like work or something) told in alternating perspectives and not entirely linear. broadly within your standard love triangle format but took care to flesh the female side out more than usual. thats the plus side, but there wsasnt really much of a story to latch onto so it all felt a bit limp

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just ok. Some great moments but wasnt anywhere near as consistently tense as the first two, and several character treatments throughout really didn't make much sense. Didn't dislike it enough to skip reading the next two ripley books but they're getting progressively less interesting

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meh. really nothing to say about this one. not sure what that pull quote is on about at all. liked the setting (college campus) and thats it

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Could have been a lot more tense, and probed a lot further into the killers psychological state, but I enjoyed it a lot. may not have totally stuck the landing but still a great work

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She's a phenomenal writer and I breezed through this in a day but I had some pretty big issues with it. Very predictable plot and seemed largely out of character with the ripley of books 1-3. I guess 3 kinda hinted at this more empathetic portrayal of tom but I'm not really on board with where it ended up here. Story also didn't really have much to say despite some intriguing elements

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Nowhere near as spicy as that tagline suggests but still really good! Loyal housewife gets caught up in a murder and tries to protect her family from the aftermath. Very psychological and got into morality a lot without being super preachy about it. Kinda a nice almost wholesome twist on a crime novel

Wouldn't quite call it suspenseful but it managed to keep it's ending pretty much up in the air till about the last 6 pages. May have wrapped things up a little too neatly but overall I really enjoyed it

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Also very good. Only read this and the killer inside me but Thompson had an incredible knack for getting inside his characters minds. This one is an escaped mental patient who gets tied up in a bungled kidnapping

Fell just a hair short of masterpiece for me for reasons I can't quite put my finger on but I liked it a lot

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Had very modest expectations for this but thought it was actually really great. Capped the ripley story nicely. Bit funny how books 3/4 hardly fit in with any others at all though. 3 at least had some passing references in this one but 4 seemed completely left out of the canon (which I can't really argue with, it was a strange book!)

A couple bits, like the drownings and the fake out with a cop on the last page, were a bit on the nose, and the reason the pritchards were so focused on tom could have been explored further, but it was probably the most psychological book in the series and I liked that. Very unsettling how well she puts the reader solidly on toms side

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Started with a really great premise. Guys shacking up with his boss's wife, then she's murdered and he's the prime but vague suspect. Boss taps him to lead the investigation. Made better than average use of the "story told through several perspectives" style. I usually kinda dislike that but the chapters in this one didn't overlap. One picked up where the last ended. Made the plot still fill linear. Even had a nice recurring motif in the clock. I didn't care for the ending at all though, and the more I think about it the worse it is. Shame cuz the rest of the book was really good and played up the unique tension well

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Story is about an absolutely but never officially stated to be autistic man running a boarding house in baltimore. Doesn't play that for cheap sympathy or anything lazy, but it is integral to everything else in the book.

Similar experience to the other books of hers I've read so far (can't remember titles offhand but I believe I've read her first 4 now. she mostly writes variations on a theme, mostly just on the right side of saccharine). She creates richly detailed characters and relationships, gives them solid storylines, but by the end I wonder what the point of it all is. Not that there necessarily has to be a point to every story but she's consistently so close to a masterpiece and always falls a tad short for me. Almost like her stuff is true to life to the point that she can't put a definitive end to it at all

I'm still a fan and curious to get to her more acclaimed mid period stuff eventually

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Finished that in a few hours so can't call it a dud but I don't think I cared for it much. Plot concerns an American writer in Tunisia for research. Shit eventually starts to go down and it was looking a bit Ripley like but then ended up feeling constantly on the verge of getting interesting without ever really making the jump, and it's morality themes were way too simplistic to carry the book like they needed to.

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Read this a few weeks ago and didn't want to immediately tear it apart here but looking back it was as bad as I thought. I'd wanted to shift gears with something more modern and coming of agey but wow this sucked. 600 pages with barely any plot, tons of characters but none of them likable or interesting. It ultimately amounted to girl dumped a guy for another guy that eventually dumped her so she wallowed over both for the rest of the book, but all the relationships seemed shitty so who cares. There was a point at the end where it got fairly ok, dealing with a funeral, but at that point I was just reading to be done with it. Bad!

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This was solid but didn't quite land for me. It's about a wannabe crime writer whose wife disappears and everyone suspects him cuz of his bizarre journals. Pacing was a little weird and ending pretty limp, but highsmiths writing was generally as good as ever.

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Loved this. Couple leaves their daughter with a last minute babysitter, and the night unravels from there. Got a bit slapstick at times but still quite suspenseful towards the end. Had no idea if it was going to go for the bleakest possible ending or not

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Really enjoyed this. Tells the story of a poor British lady navigating a shit marriage during the depression. Quite dark overall but bits of humor in there kept it from feeling like a barrage of misery. Built a character you really pulled for even when she made baffling decisions. Perhaps wrapped things up a bit too neatly (and played a bit too cute with the "this is my story" narration gimmick at times) but overall a real nice read and a writer I'll definitely investigate further

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aka patricia highsmith

enjoyed this. Its reputation is mostly tied to it's overt lesbianism (not a shock after all the gay undertones in Ripley) and abnormally heartwarming ending for highsmith. Follows a young set designer who falls in love with an older woman she meets at her day job. For a long time I kinda wondered what the point of it all was. The relationship seemed uneven with no real emotional hook to buy into it, and once it transitioned to a road novel it seemed on the verge of total aimlessness, but it pulled everything together well even though it seemed a little too cruel towards Theresas boyfriend. Never as tense as highsmiths best, just not that kind of book, but still unfolded a story that could have gone any number of directions at any time. I think comfortably favorite so far outside of the ripley books

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Enjoyed this whole reading it but on reflection it really wasn't good. Centers around a high school senior whose dad has a religious awakening. For one, Its central premise of fundamentalist hypocrisy was shockingly basic. Maybe at the time it hit harder but now it just kinda felt like those dumb tweets that point out a politician has contradicted themselves with no deeper substance at all. It used the impending Reagan era as a backdrop, but never more than a passing reference (that mostly served to remind you the book was not actually set in the 40s as it often felt), and it all just felt beneath her skill as a psychological writer. Seemed like it focused on the wrong characters completely. It had a protagonist and supporting circle that was well developed but kinda boring in their mostly endless cheer, and several antagonists with potential but that never really rose above cheap caricatures. It was a decent story but peak highsmith could have done a lot more with it

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Con man and his wife meet another con man and it all spirals from there.Bit highsmith by numbers (you got your rich geniuses galavanting about in luxurious settings, your wrong place wrong time violence and coverups, your shakey partnerships that can turn either way on a dime, your inept law enforcement, sexual tension, etc) and seemed to build to a climax that didn't actually happen, but still another enjoyable novel.

Dunno where it fits chronologically as far as when she wrote it but you could make this into a Ripley book almost seamlessly by only changing a few names.

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This was solid. starts with a simple premise (a threatening phone call to a lonely woman) and methodically builds its web from there. The ending wasn't terribly surprising once it began it's final turn towards a conclusion but the vibe in getting there was suitably suspenseful. Definitely a writer I need more by.

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This one ruled. Pair of juvenile delinquents and a lonely girl go for an easy robbery and an ex con gets involved to see that it's done right. Of course it doesn't!

Noir storylines with a heavy romantic subplot are the best imo, and this had the added charm of a brief road sequence, dingy diner stop and all. Definitely one of the best of these I've rrad. Didn't even matter that you could see where every character would end up pretty much right away.

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A woman dies suspiciously at a rest stop and her husband becomes a suspect due to a bizarre fascination to a similar recent crime. That cold case is reopened and both are investigated in relation to each other

Real good but just short of masterpiece for me.

The characters and general moral ambiguity were brilliant in a way few other writers can match, and its a very ambitious story, but I had one big issue with it. She made the lead detective working both cases into a genuine psychopath with such prominence to both suspects that it kinda undercut the natural cat and mouse game that developed between them. The tension of two men, one guilty and one innocent, in this weird chess game of trust between each other, trying to save themselves without ratting the other one out because neither actually knew if the other was lying, was a promising angle but the more the detective got involved the more it distracted. There was backstory to his involvement but it still felt oddly shoehorned in. Every other characters role seemed perfectly balanced.

Probably taking a break from highsmith for a bit but this was a real good one to pause on

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Goodness this was bleak. Not entirely shocking based on the other malamuds I've read but dang!

Centers around a Jewish grocer in Brooklyn as his store gets wiped out by competitors. Lots of what is a Jew discussion and heavy moralizing, which was also not a shock. Dude was clearly a great writer but stuff like this generally feels like a generic book club prompt to me more than something to actually enjoy. The creeping modernization that threatened morris' livelihood would have been a far more interesting focus than personal rights and wrongs and forgiveness.

terrible take coming but God's grace, where a nuclear holocaust survivor tries to repopulate the planet with talking monkeys (including by fucking one) is the malamud i enjoyed most so far

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Ioved it. Very long but very rewarding. Largely a coming of age study of Marjorie herself but those kinds of books are never anything without interesting support characters, which this had plenty of.

Without knowing wouks work at all I had no idea what to expect as this thing progressed but I was very glad it avoided several easy sentimental endings that were right there for the taking. Primarily, noel sucked! Him getting owned after finally making a move was satisfying! It seemed like a sure thing for the longest time that him and Marjorie would ultimately end up together, which would have been enough to sour me on the whole book I think. I was kinda pissed when he got another chance after the savage break up letter but the ultimate rejection made it worthwhile

Also very glad Marjorie never became a star. This was the main angle where my early sister Carrie comparison diverged. The plot wouk actually gave her was far more believable, and painting her happy ending as a personal letdown of sorts was very good. Kept it out of fairy tale land.

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Didn't care for it. Revolves around a quiet single woman who escapes her sympathetic but controlling family to live in the countryside then becomes a witch. Not really anything in here to grab onto. Strange characterization of the main character, a family I felt I was obligated to dislike but couldn't see why, and a plot that kinda did nothing.

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Liked this one even less! Dystopian sci Fi is a hard sell for me in general though. Dunno if the ending of this was meant to be any sort of twist but it wasn't the least bit surprising, not was it particularly poignant, and the way almost every single chapter ended with a clunky "that's how it was, until this happened" cliffhanger was so tedious. Bad book

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picking the worst place to start with stephen king. this was ok. it did try to be more than just violence but it was pretty clumsy about it and its not a surprise king let it fall out of print

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boy is it dry. Not gonna win over anyone that finds Jarrett's brand of jazz overly serious and clinical that's for sure. It's clear Keith himself had no involvement but his brother translated this edition so it still feels afraid of stepping on any toes. Only so many ways you can call the guy a genius, move on already!

Calling it a biography is a mistake as it's more of a dissertation than anything. More frustratingly, each chapter follows its own theme with no overall chronology. Some albums fit into several of the chapters so they get discussed multiple times. Koln is great but did it really need its own chapter after already being described in the general solo concerts chapter? Splitting these various facets (solo, quartets, standards, etc) of his career into separate chapters ignores the fact that they mostly happened concurrently. To me that's more interesting than splitting them up so cleanly like this book does

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Wow I really disliked this!

Classic setup, a straight-laced architect meets an alcoholic nut on a train and accidentally ends up in a murder pact, but never clicked like I hoped. Biggest issue was the guilt spiral the architect enters that leads to him ultimately doing the deed wasn't believable at all. Not like this stuff has to be 100% lifelike but dude could have just gone to the police right away (or even at several points before saying welp guess I gotta kill this guy) and avoided all this? Not to get all gee I hope somebody got fired for that one but it it was really hard for me to look past that plot hole. Shame because it really had potential as a thriller

Muddied ending where guy embraces a nihilistic viewpoint on crime only to get caught anyway didn't help either

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read this in way too many small chunks to fairly assess it but I can't say I enjoyed it at al

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This was just ok. Easy to see why it fell out of print. Felt like he had the set up (and it was a doozie. Affluent housewife in a small town kills herself and her kids and a cynical journalist is tasked with figuring out why) with all the potential in the world, but knocked the rest out in a hurry. No real ending, several promising characters dropped suddenly along the way. Great writing but disappointing novel

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Didn't like this at all. Knew I shouldn't have trusted this bafflingly cheesy cover.

This was her debut novel and boy is it a long ways from here to in a lonely place. Even as a bit of a mystery hater I was kinda on board early on but it fell apart hard around the halfway point. Just a mess of a treasure hunt with way too many characters.

beantownbubba
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Re: Books Thread

Post by beantownbubba »

Them's a lot of books and a lot of mysteries for a guy who doesn't like them lol. I'm crushed you didn't like the Chandler. Funny comment about Higgins since I think most people would say he's known for his dialogue as much as anything lol.

See my comments on the previous page (or maybe 2) about Never Let Me Go. The funny thing is I don't remember a thing about it, which is pretty weird.

You should read Winds of War. I can't say it's better than Marjorie Morningstar because a lot of people like Marjorie more, but I'm a really big fan of Winds. If you like it you'll probably like the sequel, War and Remembrance but it's not as good. Certainly don't read it if you don't like the first one.

I don't know that Elmore Leonard. Have you read others? This one doesn't seem typical (typical being good, fast paced and funny w/ memorable characters).

Jim Thompson always seemed overrated to me, which is why I've only read a couple and those were a long time ago. Possibly time to revisit, I don't know. So many books, so little time.

I knew there were 2 Ripley books, didn't realize there are more. I liked the first one and some of her other stuff; my wife's the big fan in this family.
What used to be is gone and what ought to be ought not to be so hard

John A Arkansawyer
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Re: Books Thread

Post by John A Arkansawyer »

beantownbubba wrote:
Tue Aug 03, 2021 1:18 pm
I'm crushed you didn't like the Chandler.
We are all the poorer for it, but now you know you don't like Chandler. You'll dig Hammett's Red Harvest a lot. You'd also maybe like the short Continental Op stories. I'm not sure what omnibus to recommend for that.
The sooner we put those assholes in the grave&piss on the dirt above it, the better off we'll be

beantownbubba
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Re: Books Thread

Post by beantownbubba »

Is it just me or is there a trend, particularly among genre writers, to shout out to other authors in the genre in their books? I've seen it a lot lately - characters mischievously named after a famous character in somebody else's series, or that famous character being referred to as a "real person" within the context of the book or a character reading a specific book by a named author. It happened multiple times in the book I just finished so I thought it was time to ask around. Anybody else notice this?
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beantownbubba
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Re: Books Thread

Post by beantownbubba »

beantownbubba wrote:
Wed Aug 04, 2021 5:08 pm
Is it just me or is there a trend, particularly among genre writers, to shout out to other authors in the genre in their books? I've seen it a lot lately - characters mischievously named after a famous character in somebody else's series, or that famous character being referred to as a "real person" within the context of the book or a character reading a specific book by a named author. It happened multiple times in the book I just finished so I thought it was time to ask around. Anybody else notice this?
In the Louise Penny book I'm reading, she describes a kids' book about a young Montreal Canadiens fan who gets a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey as a present and has to wear it. I get the impression that the book is well known and popular in Canada but I'm not familiar w/ it. Sounds awesome, though and I may just have to check that out.
What used to be is gone and what ought to be ought not to be so hard

beantownbubba
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Re: Books Thread

Post by beantownbubba »

Belinda Bauer has written 8 books but until a few weeks ago I had never heard of her. In those few weeks I've read 3 of the 8, including most recently Rubbernecker. I intend to read the rest. What a talent! It's easy to tell that she's probably 10x smarter than me w/ a wicked sense of humor and that's before we even get to her writing talent. Nominally mysteries, the books are puzzling and clever in untraditional ways but mostly they're black comedies about the human condition and quirky endearing characters. Except for the sad parts which are really sad, but no reason to shy away.
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Re: Books Thread

Post by Shakespeare »

catching up again
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this took a lot longer than i like any book to take, but i absolutely loved it. comparisons to marjorie morningstar were fairly superficial but it shared a lot of traits, most pleasantly his feel for supporting characters and ability to have them transcend his relatively cliche plotlines. im a little apprehensive of wouk's big war novels but i loved these two enoguh ill likely give them a shot eventually

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So far (Maltese falcon and this) hammett is a big nope from me. On paper his style should be my jam so I'll try again some other time

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Loved this. been a while since I'd read something this bleak from beginning to end. Even the glimmers of light for the two main characters were never presented as anything sustainable, but it was paced well enough that it didn't feel like piling on misery for misery's sake

It mainly follows the semi connected lives of two men in and out of crimes over a few decades. Race is integral and handled in that classic noir way that is on the right side broadly but still frequently clunky at best about it (tw: slurs) but the gay love angle was a genuine surprise and oddly heartwarming.

It fell a hair short of masterpiece for me due to some storylines not quite landing, as well as it dragging a bit in the prison scenes (a trend I've noticed in this stuff. There's just not a lot of different ways to write about the isolation of imprisonment), but definitely recommended. Kinda surprised it hasn't gotten a film treatment yet, especially considering carpenter was more known for his Hollywood work anyway

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this was bizarre! its about a spoiled boy (~14 i think?) on vacation with his mom. meets a local poor kid crew, gets teased for not knowing about sex, realizes hes obsessed with his mom, tries to sleep with a sex worker. it was really short, just over 100 pages, and somehow not weird enough with its premise so it ultimately felt a bit pointless but not a bad read

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Yes, I tend to grab anything I find on this imprint. Very few duds so far

This was really good and early on I thought it was setting itself up as fairly boilerplate apocalypse stuff. Guy tries to kill himself, doesn't go through with it, returns to find all of humanity disappeared with no explanation.

its saving grace for me was that it takes place entirely in the guys head. very philosophical and bleak. Would have liked just a bit more plot to it myself, but it found some interesting territory in a well covered concept. Read it in a little over an hour and it left plenty to marinate on

Turns out the author then killed himself

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Checked all the boxes and then some. Adultery, murder, backstabbing, more adultery, legal loopholes. All in under 100 pages

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Another banger. begins with a courtroom sentencing then tells it's story of murder at a dance marathon in flashback

Dark as hell but also one of the funniest books I've read. builds to an incredible punchline

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This had some potential, especially the second half that was more lovers on the run than crime story, but the plot was so thin and never ramped up the tension at all. Decent read but not much more

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yikes was this ever problematic. It's a farce about a Broadway publicist that impulse buys a Caribbean hotel as part of a midlife crisis. It's racism was generally somewhat passive and not shared by the protagonist himself, who was always presented as aware and appreciative of the black labor that pretty much ran the operation, but its sexism and more painfully it's homophobia were not so passive at all. The last twentyish pages in particular shifted from wouk treating gay characters as a cheap punchline to something well Into actual malice, and done in a way that indicted characters and author. the best thing i can say about its sexism is it was fairly run of the mill by the standards of its time (which is to say the men are encouraged to sleep around and the women shamed). I by no means need art of the past to stand up to modern standards but in this case it was a lot!

and yet i.....really liked the book. it was a nice change of pace from the other two wouk novels I've read, for it's comparatively brief length, the overt humor,and that it focused on the beginning of the end of a life rather than the beginning, but all his trademarks were here. Dude made some incredible characters and knew just how much spotlight to give each one! The various cruelties of this book were disappointing after the empathetic ways he tackled young adulthood in Marjorie morningstar and youngblood hawke (what happened in his life, I wondered???) And yet as pure plot it was well paced, kept me on my toes the whole way, frequently hilarious, and ultimately...satisfying? I sure don't feel great about it all things considered but funny literature generally doesn't do much for me but I blew through this in a couple hours, pretty much crossing my fingers the whole time I'd be able to finish it before going to sleep.

Jimmy Buffett made a musical out of it lol

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Re: Books Thread

Post by beantownbubba »

Another fine, meaty list, Shakespeare. Thanks. Still disappointed that Chandler and Hammett don't work for you, but are you familiar w/ Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther novels? A different take on noir, set in Nazi Germany before and during the war featuring a colorful, smart, wise cracking PI. Kerr's debts to the masters are obvious but he extends and plays w/ the form in ways that might appeal to you. And he is justly celebrated for his portrayal of Berlin during that tumultuous time.

Don't know Don Carpenter, but do know, and love, George Pelecanos, so that's 2 great references right there and I will definitely check this one out.

Seems like you nail the Moravia (w/ whom I'm not familiar) since, yes, bizarre seems to be the appropriate descriptor.

I don't think I've read the book of They Shoot Horses. The movie was all the rage back in the day and I remember it having a big impact on me. I'm curious to check out the book.

Glad The Postman Always Rings Twice lived up to its reputation for you.
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Re: Books Thread

Post by Shakespeare »

beantownbubba wrote:
Mon Sep 27, 2021 1:59 pm
Another fine, meaty list, Shakespeare. Thanks. Still disappointed that Chandler and Hammett don't work for you, but are you familiar w/ Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther novels? A different take on noir, set in Nazi Germany before and during the war featuring a colorful, smart, wise cracking PI. Kerr's debts to the masters are obvious but he extends and plays w/ the form in ways that might appeal to you. And he is justly celebrated for his portrayal of Berlin during that tumultuous time.
havent herd of him but noted, thanks!

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she pretty much writes the same book repeatedly, but it's a pretty good one and her writing almost always lands just on the right side of sappy. This one was a bit slight on developing it's supporting characters, which kneecapped the plot a bit. I know exactly what to expect when I sit down with an Anne Tyler book though, so it's hard to really complain.
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Started out really promising, with a great array of traveling carnival workers, but didn't really work for me. The bulk of the story takes place after the main characters leave the carnival, and it becomes a much less interesting sort of religious satire. Good plot, not an enjoyable read.

Did quite like the ending though. I've loved plenty of books with endings that don't work but I think a mediocre book nailing the ending is a first for me.

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blew through this one yesterday. id not really clicked with a detective novel before but this ruled. i think maybe because there was no mystery at all. the reader knows the whole time who did what, its just a matter of getting to the conclusion. petty criminal kills a hare krishna accidentally then teams up with a charmingly dumb hooker. characters were all perfect, tension/comedy balance perfect, just a great time all around

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Re: Books Thread

Post by beantownbubba »

Excellent rec on
Hard Rain Falling,
Shakes. I agree w/ your comments but would add that the number of excessively long paragraphs sometimes made reading difficult. And I didn't get the epilogue at all. Those are meant as very minor criticisms of a very good book and excellent discovery. I liked the racial stuff for precisely the reasons you describe: basically on the right side, but clunky and occasionally cringe inducing but worth it because imho it rang very true.

It didn't affect my enjoyment of the book at all but I wish I understood what I assume are the rather fine distinctions between the various games of billiards mentioned in the pool hall scenes. I'll probably get around to looking that up soon.
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Re: Books Thread

Post by beantownbubba »

The People's Tycoon: Henry Ford and the American Century by Steven Watts. Fascinating. I have quibbles (I particularly would have liked to read more about the financial numbers) and a couple of chapters went on too long but well written, well researched and very thoughtful. I had some assumptions challenged, learned a lot and highly recommend this one.
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Re: Books Thread

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I am a huge fan of the very talented Karin Slaughter who has to be one of the very best thriller writers currently writing. As I know I've mentioned at least a time or 3 her Grant County and Will Trent series are both top notch. All of her stand alones are worth reading, too, but until False Witness I would have said they were a shade off her very best. But this one is a top of the list keeper. The 2 sisters at the center of the book are fantastic characters as are the major members of the supporting cast. Even though the denouement seemed inevitable from a fairly early point, the book was still a page turner to the end, which is not easy to do. Great stuff. I am once again amazed at how short the publishing cycle now is. This hardcover book thoroughly integrates the pandemic "era" and references both the start of the vaccine roll out and the January 6th insurrection.
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Re: Books Thread

Post by Shakespeare »

catching up again, last few weeks:
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this was a blast. it started out like a dopey lifetime movie (this woman is poor, abandoned by her husband, pregnant, and after a train crash shes mistaken for a rich pregnant woman that died and embraced by the dead husbands family. she of course rolls with it, despite some guilt) but the kind of mistaken identity thing that remains just barely believable enough to play along. rides that uneasy but giddy mood for a while then takes a sharp turn and ends in a delightful psychological headgame. enjoyed it a lot

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this was pretty good but didnt really do a ton for me. nice, tight, one sitting kinda read. love a good "please kill my husband" yarn. also ended in a nice psychological headgame

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Kinda hated how this ended. Based on the little cain i knew already I figured it wouldn't be as sunny as it seemed for a while, but the final act felt so rushed and just needlessly cruel. Left a bad taste for me

That said he's a hell of a writer and I certainly enjoyed this overall

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Plot is basically what you'd expect a cain book called the cocktail waitress to be

Posthumous release, stitched together from several of Cain's drafts. I wouldn't have known without reading the afterword though. It flowed really well. Perhaps borrowed a bit too liberally from his past classics and definitely had some bits that could have been worked out better (ending and the lower tier characters felt a bit like placeholders and probably why this didn't come out in his lifetime) but it was hard to put down

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change of pace

cant be too down on this because I did read the last 250 pages pretty much in one sitting, but it wasn't very good. it had plenty of elements lined up for the kind of slow burning character study i can really dig (starts out with an Irishman coming to new york around the turn of the 20th century, then follows his marriage and eventually shifts to focus on his children) but some baffling decisions really derailed it for me. smith made the protagonist here so boring and such a doormat it was hard to care about her. felt like this was going for some proto-feminist vibes by making maggie some sort of strong and independent but just about every decision she made was maddening. its supporting characters were equally frustrating despite plenty of potential. Add a plot that never really delivered any big moments or emotional payoff despite its length in pages and years and it was a nice read but totally forgettable

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This was fun. Wouldn't call it a great novel by any means (could have been edited a ton more, classic QT style dialogue doesnt always play well on the page, and it just generally had way too many head starts in its storytelling to evaluate on that front) but as a companion piece to the movie I enjoyed it. It features most scenes from the movie in some level but its not a straight or remotely linear retelling (the movie's climax only exists here as an offhand reference around a quarter of the way in, for example) at all. the overall timeline is shared between book and movie but they each cover that period in their own order. i didn't really think the Rick Dalton stuff here added much the movie didnt cover well enough, but it fleshed out cliff booth a whole lot, and im half curious to rewatch the movie soon and see how that character plays on screen with all this added backstory in mind. got a feeling itll only make brad pitts performance even better

400 pages you can knock out in an afternoon. Pretty much nailed the cheap entertainment vibe it aimed for. Visually too, the thing is a very impressive knockoff of a mass market paperback of the era. i think if he wants to give it a serious go as a novelist it just might work out

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Re: Books Thread

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I am enjoying Cloud Cuckoo Land.
Now it's dark.

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Re: Books Thread

Post by beantownbubba »

It is not exactly a surprise that Ron Chernow writes really excellent biographies, especially of those in business/finance. Even so, Titan, about John D. Rockefeller, Sr. is pretty damn impressive. I assume it must be the definitive work on the subject but I don't know that for a fact. If Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg are the Rockefeller, Ford and Morgan of our time, which era comes out ahead? Beats me.
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Re: Books Thread

Post by beantownbubba »

Flea wrote:
Sun Nov 07, 2021 11:48 pm
I am enjoying Cloud Cuckoo Land.
This is his new one, right? I loved All the Light... and am eager to check this one out. What do ya think?
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Re: Books Thread

Post by Flea »

beantownbubba wrote:
Wed Nov 17, 2021 11:45 pm
Flea wrote:
Sun Nov 07, 2021 11:48 pm
I am enjoying Cloud Cuckoo Land.
This is his new one, right? I loved All the Light... and am eager to check this one out. What do ya think?

I very much enjoyed it. It takes place in 3 times/locations: Middle Ages Constantinople, modern Idaho, and on a spaceship in the future traveling to a distant star system. To say more would be an injustice. Thought it would be a sci-fi novel, but I was wrong; it's quite good.
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Re: Books Thread

Post by beantownbubba »

Harlem Shuffle - Colson Whitehead. Excellent. The dude can just plain write. Very different from

Code: Select all

Underground Railroad.
[/i] I enjoyed this one more probably as a matter of genre/style (I've seen this classified as a mystery, which it really isn't but it doesn't have the fantastical elements of Railroad. Whitehead's descriptions of Harlem and "Negro" attitudes in the late 50's/early 60's are terrific.
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Re: Books Thread

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this had some potential as a sorta feminist take on a drugs and sex thriller. problem was it just wasnt thrilling at all. by the end it was desperately grasping for any twist but none of them satisfied at all. enough here i may read more of her stuff but this didnt do it for me

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hadnt read hawkes other books but this was a mostly self indulgent waste. some good passages here and there and as an attempt to write what you know (its based around a film actor debuting on broadway while his marriage crumbles) it approached some decent insight but never quite got there

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i adored williams' stoner but barely made it 10 pages into augustus. this was a nice read but didnt quite hit like id hoped. It's about a Harvard drop out that decides to go west and try hunting buffalo. I appreciated it as a western that was a bit more grounded in a harsh reality than typical fare, but its two most interesting parts (the isolation of being stranded in the mountains all winter, and the bleak nihilism of coming back to a changed society) felt undercooked. Good enough read but could have been great

im amped to see nic cage gut buffalo in the upcoming movie though
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i liked this a lot and if i didnt have a huge stack of library books calling my name i just might dive right back in for round two to see how earlier chapters play while knowing the full story. it starts out as a fairly skeevy secret agent romance, then retells large chunks of it with a focus on a differing series of characters each time

wouldnt quite call it a thriller, in fact it was very methodically paced and light on anything youd call action, but it did a great job maintaining interest as it wound its characters together.

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Re: Books Thread

Post by John A Arkansawyer »

I read the first two of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy and let the third volume sit for a very, very long time--five years or so--and only picked it up because this interview with Robinson--Kim Stanley Robinson on Science Fiction and Reclaiming Science for the Left--caught my interest hard. I liked where Green Earth left the story and was afraid Robinson wouldn't stick the ending. So I did finally get around to Blue Mars over the weekend and enjoyed it a great deal.

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I'd've done some things differently--one character's arc bugged me a lot--but it's a big old novel of ideas and a love story, and I dug it all. It suffers from Dante Syndrome, where the book about heaven isn't as hot as the one about hell, but that's just a cultural bias on our part. This trilogy is worth reading!

Now I'm ready for my anamnestic treatments.
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Re: Books Thread

Post by Shakespeare »

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Actually haven't seen the movie so this was all new to me. Dude was not a great writer at all and this had some truly bizarre side plots (the oceanographer/police chiefs wife affair, lol), but it was a good time overall

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Read all 308 pages this afternoon so I can't be too harsh on it. Overwhelmingly sweet though. Tells the story of a young couples first year of marriage while the man goes through law school. Throws a series of troubles at them but never has you believe any of them will stick in any significant way, so it's more of a steady stream of just barely plausible lucky breaks. Whole thing was just kinda empty

I'll probably still read a tree grows in Brooklyn because that's her best known book and I do enjoy her writing, just wish she did more with her characters

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Re: Books Thread

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Colson Whitehead's The Nickel Boys makes 3 straight big wins for Whitehead (meaning the 3 I've read, not the order of publication). This book is short, to the point and powerful. This man can just flat out write. The based on fact story he tells is horrific and Whitehead does it justice, if that term can be used in this context.
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Re: Books Thread

Post by beantownbubba »

Shakespeare wrote:
Mon Dec 06, 2021 2:41 pm
Actually haven't seen the movie so this was all new to me. Dude was not a great writer at all and this had some truly bizarre side plots (the oceanographer/police chiefs wife affair, lol), but it was a good time overall
I remember the book as something of a page turner but no doubt this is one of those fairly rare instances where the movie is better than the book. Well, well worth seeing. One of those where I'm jealous of anybody getting to see it for the first time.
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Re: Books Thread

Post by Flea »

beantownbubba wrote:
Mon Dec 06, 2021 5:30 pm
Shakespeare wrote:
Mon Dec 06, 2021 2:41 pm
Actually haven't seen the movie so this was all new to me. Dude was not a great writer at all and this had some truly bizarre side plots (the oceanographer/police chiefs wife affair, lol), but it was a good time overall
I remember the book as something of a page turner but no doubt this is one of those fairly rare instances where the movie is better than the book. Well, well worth seeing. One of those where I'm jealous of anybody getting to see it for the first time.
The Indianapolis story is amazing

(Spoilers, obviously...)

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Re: Books Thread

Post by dime in the gutter »

Shakespeare wrote:
Mon Dec 06, 2021 2:41 pm
Image
Actually haven't seen the movie so this was all new to me. Dude was not a great writer at all and this had some truly bizarre side plots (the oceanographer/police chiefs wife affair, lol), but it was a good time overall
for me, the deep is a better benchley book. written b4 jaws.

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Re: Books Thread

Post by John A Arkansawyer »

beantownbubba wrote:
Mon Dec 06, 2021 5:30 pm
one of those fairly rare instances where the movie is better than the book.
I have come to suspect this canard. Why? People forget bad books and remember bad movies. Assuming they read in the first place.
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Re: Books Thread

Post by rlipps »

Just finished these two and loved both of them:

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Image

Currently reading this one:

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Re: Books Thread

Post by beantownbubba »

I consciously avoided Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby for some time because I feared the hype. I'm really glad I finally took the plunge. Excellent and worth all the praise.
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