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David Robinson "Home Dad" (Bradford, MA United States)
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Crying Of Lot 49
Crying Of Lot 49
by Thomas Pynchon
Edition: Paperback
53 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Left me feeling kind of stupid, Feb. 20 2004
This review is from: Crying Of Lot 49 (Paperback)
I haven't felt like this after reading a book in a long time. This is not to say that I dislike difficult books. I typically enjoy a challenging read. It was suggested that I would like this book because I have given books by DeLillo, Ellis, and Danielewski high ratings.
What makes this different? Most importantly, I think, is that I felt no great attachment to any of the characters, especially not Oedipa Maas. Therefore, the intrigue is not nearly as compelling as it could be. Who cares about the conspiracy, W.A.S.T.E., Tristero, or Thurn and Taxis? Especially given the final outcome.
I do, however, give it three stars because it has some moments of brilliance. The revenge play is fantastic, the word play is often amusing, and it does have a hallucinatory feel.
Obviously, some people will like this more than I did. I fully accept that. If you're up for a challenge, enjoy language, and don't put a high premium on characterization or plot, then this is worth the read.

Pink
Pink
by Gus Van Sant
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.16
40 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1.0 out of 5 stars Stick to his movies, Aug. 20 2001
This review is from: Pink (Paperback)
I'll admit it:
I bought this book because I liked the cover.
It has a matte finish, and I love books like that. It usually signals that there is something important inside. And with this being written by Director, Gus Van Sant, I thought that my suspicions might be confirmed. After all, the blurbs on the back described "Pink" as being like the works of Vonnegut. Enough said! Vonnegut is one of my heroes, and since I've read everything he's written, I figured an author *like* him would be suitable for the time being.
Oh, how misled I was!
"Pink" is a jumbled, nearly indecipherable mess of a novel. It is littered with characters about whom we give not a damn. There are scenes that take place in Orlando, FL, where I lived for a few years. It is apparent that Van Sant knows nothing about the area -- talking about highways, for example, that simply do not exist. How hard would it have been to take a look at a map? This is just one way that his lazy, thoughtless writing is evidenced. It makes "Pink" look suspiciously like a first draft -- written once, never to be checked for such details, or larger things, like, say, plot or character.
There are clever allusions to dead rock stars and dead actors, like that is supposed to somehow make the novel thought-provoking. "Hey, isn't that River Phoenix? And didn't Van Sant do a movie with him?" Yeah, and who cares? There are footnotes, which, I guess, are meant to be clever. They are not. This is not to say that they can't be. Dave Barry knows how to use footnotes. "House of Leaves" uses footnotes to excellent effect. These are just a waste of time.
Much like the entire book, as a matter of fact.
Perhaps the only good thing about it is the flipbook cartoon, which may indicate that Van Sant should really stick with moving pictures and abandon the literary ones.
Not recommended. At all. Ever.

Brave New World Revisited
Brave New World Revisited
by Aldous Huxley
Edition: Paperback
46 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They don't get much better than this!, Aug. 20 2001
You *MUST* read this book!
Huxley wrote a masterpiece of a book in "Brave New World". "Brave New World Revisited" is a fantastic critical analysis of "BNW", how it differs with Orwell's "1984", and the world as Huxley saw it some 30 after the book debuted. His commentary and social criticism cut deep, and this cautionary tale is perhaps more applicable today than it has ever been (as evidenced in George W. Bush's reference to "BNW" in his speech concerning government funding of stem cell research).
This surely is an important book.
The amazing thing is, though, that even as such, it is a thrill to read. The dialogue is snappy, the narration rich, and the scenarios hilarious and frightening -- often at the same time. This is SF at its best. This is SF as literature.
I cannot sing the praises of "BNW" highly enough. I will waste no more of your time talking about it -- use it to read this book instead!
Recommended for: Everyone (even those who don't normally read SF)

Foundation
Foundation
by Isaac Asimov
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.79
115 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Big on ideas, lacking in style, Aug. 20 2001
This review is from: Foundation (Mass Market Paperback)
"Foundation" is considered by many SF devotees to be one of the greatest creations of the genre. It won the Hugo award to prove it, spawned many sequels, and even a couple of prequels. I was excited to read this book, expecting it to live up to its many accolades.
Boy, was I disappointed!
The basic idea of this novel is fascinating: Hari Seldon foresees the demise of the galactic empire using the science of psychohistory. He puts a plan into motion to lessen the catastrophic effect of this collapse. Will it work?
This is a good concept to work from, and I liked the plot. It's classic SF.
What I did not like was the writing.
Asimov relies too heavily on dialogue. It reads like a play. The only narration present serves as "stage direction" to indicate that someone moves, or smokes, or exits, or whatever. I was not able to imagine most of what was going on, as Asimov never adequately sets the scene for us. People simply talk back and forth. Everyone talks excatly alike, and none of the dialogue sounds natural. With little attributions (he said, she said, etc.), it's often hard to tell just who is talking, anyway. It's an extremely frustrating experience as a reader.
The other problem with "Foundation" (perhaps, its central problem) is that it tries to cover too much in too short a period of time. This is unfortunate, because, again, the premise is so good. A story like this must cover a great period of time to achieve its goals, of course. We have to find out if Hari Seldon was on the right track. Asimov introduces a host of charcters, but none of them stick around. Consequently, there's no one in the entire book that you know or care about. This is a major failing. A great SF novel cannot be just a clever idea. The great books of the genre have great characters who help us to understand and appreciate the clever idea. Look at "Rendezvous with Rama", "Ender's Game", "Stranger in a Strange Land", "Dune", or "Brave New World". Each of these features great ideas and great characters.
If this book were fleshed out a bit more with better descriptions and deeper characters who were actually given time to develop, I would like it much more. As it stands, it feels too thin -- it's the kernel of something really great.
I recommend this only to die-hard SF fans who are getting back to the genre's roots, or those who value ideas over writing quality.
I believe you must have both to be a true classic.

Vittorio the Vampire
Vittorio the Vampire
by Anne Rice
Edition: Audio Cassette
8 used & new from CDN$ 3.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Vlad Tepid, March 23 2001
I listened to the audio book version of this and was fairly disappointed. I could appreciate all of the detail about Italy in the Age of Gold, and it *was* interesting. But I was not really moved in any way by the characters peopling this story. And to be honest, I don't know why. I was just sort of bored.
I've been a fan of Anne Rice for a long time now. I love the original vampire chronicles, and I enjoyed "Pandora", as well. Something about "Vittorio the Vampire" just felt like it was done by numbers. It's horrible to say, especially of one of my favorite authors.
This book is more about love and angels than anything else, really. Those looking to find anything like the original tales will be hard pressed to find it (which Vittorio warns us about in the beginning...so, it's my fault for looking, I guess). I just expect stories by Rice to be more compelling.
Now, part of the problem may be in the narration itself. It was solid for the most part, perhaps a bit monotone. But then, when Marosz tried to do a character's scream and it came out as a weak, hoarse whisper, I nearly laughed. It was *terrible*! It's like the way little kids pretend they are yelling -- or the way you call to a friend across the room in a very quiet library. As an audio engineer, it frustrates the hell out of me to hear a performer do this! My credo is: Go ahead and yell, and let the audio engineer do his or her job. Just give a good performance! And if the audio engineer is responsible for that silly whisper/yell... well, then the audio world is in a sad state of affairs.
So, I give this (audio) book 3 stars. It would probably be less with anyone other than Anne Rice, but she writes so beautifully, that her descriptions save her.

Intensity
Intensity
by Dean Koontz
Edition: Audio Cassette
7 used & new from CDN$ 3.92

5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic 12 hours! My favorite audio book!, March 19 2001
This review is from: Intensity (Audio Cassette)
For some reason, I think Dean Koontz books translate really well to the audio format. I loved "Fear Nothing", and based upon that experience, I decided to listen to "Intensity" on my commute. It was even better.
This book grabs you by throat 20 minutes into it and doesn't let up for about 11 and a half hours! I was intrigued by both of the primary characters and how they both aproached similar situations so differently. The suspense is unbelievable. Koontz turns what could be just a few short chapters into an entire book, chock full of nerve-jangling detail written at a nail-biting pace.
The reading of this book was splendid. It really required that she switch narrative styles so that the listener could follow what was going on, and Kate Burton does that with admirable skill. I was never confused, and she did a great job of becoming, somehow, the horror that is Edgler Forman Vess.
This has been my favorite book on tape yet! Highly recommended!

A Stir of Echoes
A Stir of Echoes
by Richard Matheson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
36 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A quick, yet satisfying read, March 19 2001
This is not Matheson's best work. That doesn't mean that it's bad, it just has a tough act to live up to in "I Am Legend". Even "Hell House" was a better book, especially in terms of pacing. So, what does this book have to offer? A story that's just as good today as the day it was written.
This is a fairly creepy read, but not really scary. It raises some good questions, and makes me glad I'm not telepathic. You really feel bad for the protagonist after a while. People can be so ugly on the inside...
I've never seen the movie, so I can't comment on that. But I do plan to see it, and expect to be disappointed as always!
A great light read, without the impact of a lot of his other works.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
by Stephen King
Edition: Hardcover
37 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Truly inspirational!, March 19 2001
If you are a struggling writer, this book is definitely for you. If you are a Stephen King fan, most of this book is for you.
It is amazing to have such a successful writer talk so openly about his craft. I grew up on his stories, so getting a peek at where they came from is like discovering your house has an extra room you never knew existed.
For me, as a writer, it was a real treat to get lessons from such a publishing giant. His take on where stories come from (they are unearthed like "fossils") really hit home. I, for one, never cared much for the idea of outlining and planning out my stories. As he says, that stuff is for the rewrites. And his take on rewriting is great, too. It should be 80% of the first draft. The book is filled with nuggets of wisdom - a lot of which you've probably heard before, but never like this.
King is encouraging and awe-inspiring. If I have any problem with it, it's what my sister in-law wrote to me after borrowing my copy: "He makes it all *so* easy!"
Very highly recommended, especially for writers.

The Dead Zone
The Dead Zone
by Stephen King
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.54
103 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A well crafted story, March 19 2001
I finished reading Stephen King's "On Writing" and decided to read "The Dead Zone" next, since he wrote about its genesis at some length. What interested me in particular is that he commented that "The Dead Zone" was one of the only novels for which he ever wrote an outline.
I could almost feel that structure as I read the book. The action is well-paced, and unlike many other King novels, it doesn't really stray too far from its purpose. From the beginning, you are almost certain of what will happen, but you are compelled to read anyway. And, of course, there's a twist. There has to be in a story like this.
This book is a great exploration of the age-old cocktail party question: "If you could have killed Hitler as an infant, knowing what he would do when he rose to power, would you do it?"
I think Stephen King may have an answer.
Recommended to SK fans and suspense fans.

God Bless You Dr. Kevorkian
God Bless You Dr. Kevorkian
by Kurt Vonnegut
Edition: Hardcover
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Short and sweet, Feb. 2 2001
I was trapped at the mall, waiting for the fine gentlemen at Sears auto center to put my snow tires on, and my original wait time of an hour and a half became three and a half hours. I killed *part* of that time browsing in a bookstore and reading this *entire* book!
I love Vonnegut, no doubt. I've read everything he's written (outside of the hard to get out of print stuff), and this was all I had left. Vonnegut doles out such poignant trinkets of wisdom, and I always come away feeling smarter after finishing one of his books. This book was no exception. Execpt it was a lot shorter. There is more truth in this little book than in most full-length novels. And we find that Vonnegut is still the same, funny, brilliant man. Just older and less apt to publish anything new. So we have to savor what we get, I guess.
God bless *you*, Mr. Vonnegut!

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