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sdelmonte@aol.com "Simon DelMonte" (Flushing, NY United States)

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Put a Lid on It
Put a Lid on It
by Donald E. Westlake
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.78
35 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Westlake Lite, Dec 26 2003
Despite the introduction of the likeable Francis Meehan, this book is not up to Westlake's standards. The plot, obstensibly meant to offer a degree of political satire, is not all that exciting (indeed, the secret behind the story is sort of unimpressive) and the read is far too quick, even compared to the Dortmunder books. Westlake fans won't be angry with this, but they might wonder where the meat is.
Thankfully, we do get a good addition to the Westlake "family" of intelligent, interesting crooks and scoundrels in the form of Meehan. He carries the book through some under-written bits, and helps cover for the two-dimensionality of the politicos Meehan encounters.
However, after the dark strength of The Hook and The Ax, this one is a disappointment. Guess everyone, even Westlake, has a n off-day.

Where They Ain't: The Fabled Life and Untimely Death of the Original Baltimore Orioles, the Team That Gave Birth to Modern Baseball
Where They Ain't: The Fabled Life and Untimely Death of the Original Baltimore Orioles, the Team That Gave Birth to Modern Baseball
by Burt Solomon
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 22.40
20 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Baseball Books I've Read, Sept. 17 2003
This look at the rise and fall of the original Orioles, and of the changes in baseball that shepharded in the "modern" era is both fascinating and very well-written. Solomon brings the long dead stars of the 1890s to vivid life, while reflecting on the dual nature of baseball as both game and business, and while looking at American life in the same era. This work shows that in some ways little has changed - contraction is a very old idea, as is franchise relocation - and that in some ways the game has benefitted from the end of the reserve clause and the occasional need to reinvent itself.
The reader gets the chance to meet some fascinating characters, such as the young John McGraw, before his days as a manager; Charlie Ebbets, the name behind Ebbets field; and Ned Hanlon, perhaps the father of strategic baseball. Moreover, this book captures the essence of the great pennants races of the past, when winning the regular season title was everything. And it's truly bizarre to learn how much was stolen from Baltimore to build all three of NYC's major league teams.
I highly recommend this to baseball fans of all stripes, as well history buffs.

Firebreak: A Parker Novel
Firebreak: A Parker Novel
by Richard Stark
Edition: Hardcover
21 used & new from CDN$ 2.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Readable But Not Up to Stark Standards, June 18 2002
This latest Parker novel is entertaining, but the two plots that make up the book are a bit scrawny and the focus of the book wanders just a bit too much from Parker to the less intriguing Larry Lloyd. There is a sense, as the Amazon review notes, that Lloyd wandered in from a Westlake book and stayed around. The result is a rather jarring mix of characters.
Parker is still very much himself, thankfully, but even the caper is a bit flat. At times, Parker seems to be a bystander. I wonder if perhaps after reviving Parker and the Stark name, Westlake has again begun to tire of the noir world.
Still, you can do a lot worse. This should make fine beach reading.

Critical Space
Critical Space
by Greg Rucka
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 27.96
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Making the Preposterous into the Believable, Feb. 11 2002
This review is from: Critical Space (Hardcover)
This book shouldn't work. The plot is a lot less realistic than those in previous Rucka works, but somehow Rucka pieces it together in a way that you can almost for how ridiculous some of the story in.
In this installment, Atticus Kodiak is now famous and his adventures involve a starlet, an activist heiress from England, and the shadowy world of assassins. Much of the work is about a series of life-altering experiences for Atticus that shouldn't rign true at all, as they border on the preposterous. But I turned the pages, my doubts were shoved aside and the action took off. Rucka brings a lot of what he's used as a novelist and as a writer of rather down-to-earth comic books into every page and every plot twist. When the book ends, the reader is left in shock at what's become of Atticus, and can't wait to see what Rucka does next with him.

The Emperor's New Groove
The Emperor's New Groove
VHS
Offered by Great Deals 4 U
Price: CDN$ 18.88
12 used & new from CDN$ 9.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Hysterical!, Jan. 29 2002
This short but funny Disney film slipped through the cracks in 2000, but anyone who's a fan of Tex Avery or Chuck Jones must see this work. For the first (and possibly last?) time, Disney leaves behind its gentle style of humor and its cloying musicals for a trip to a zany world where the hero is not all that nice, where the villain's henchman steals the show by being just plain goofy, and where slapstick rules the day. Great voice work all around, from the usually dim David Spade to the always funny Patrick Warburton, make this film that much better. And dig the theme, written by Sting and sung by Tom Jones.

Native Tongue
Native Tongue
by Carl Hiaasen
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
36 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Fun But Dopey, Jan. 29 2002
After years reading the works Donald Westlake, I branched out, first to Elmore Leonard and now to Carl Hiassen. This work is fun until the strangeness and the improbability of the story bog down the last 50 pages. Hiassen is a slightly better wordsmith than Leonard, and the Florida setting is more vivid than any setting that Westlake uses. But based on this first voyage to Hiassen's world, he's not quite as good as the others. The humor is not as sharp or ironic as a Westlake tale, and the bad guys are not as fun to watch be torn down as in either a Westlake/Stark or a Leonard.
Still, there are worse ways to spend a rainy day, and I suspect I will give a few other Hiassen works a try until the next Westlake book comes out.

Top Ten - Book 01
Top Ten - Book 01
by Alan Moore
Edition: Paperback
17 used & new from CDN$ 29.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Readable but Average Comic By Someone Who Is Usually Better, Jan. 7 2002
This review is from: Top Ten - Book 01 (Paperback)
If you didn't tell me that Alan Moore wrote this, I'd never guess. Compared with almost everything I've read by him - even with its cousin Promethea - it's shallow and simple. Many of the characters really didn't grab me, especially the obstensible main character, Toybox. Some of the characters are almost stick figures. The occasional parodistic reference to older characters, such as the Fantastic Four or the JLA, seemed just silly instead of funny. The mysteries that the cops of Neopolis solve, however, are generally engaging, and two or three of the cops did come across as intriguing. Still, as Moore works go, this is slight.
The saving grace of this comic is the art by Ha and Cannon. The heroes might not be much to read about, but they are something to see, as is the city of Neopolis.
If you want to read top-notch recent Alan Moore, though, try early issues of his Promethea series. And for a trip to a city that is similar to Neopolis in its one-foot-in-the-future look but with a lot more in the way of great characters and story, lok for Dean Motter's Terminal City TPB.

The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst
The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst
by David Nasaw
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.57
42 used & new from CDN$ 2.20

4.0 out of 5 stars Very Strong Biography with Few Flaws, Jan. 3 2002
Nasaw does a very good job in turning the life of William Randolph Hearst into the subject of this popular biography. A strong writing style and a balance between section detailing the business, political and personal parts of Hearst's life keep the reader engaged. It's hard to believe the power one man had and harder still to believe that flexed it so often and so unsuccessfully on many occasions. Students of modern politics will find an instructive history about a man who is in many ways the precursor to Michael Bloomberg, Steve Forbes and Ross Perot. Students of journalism will find a man unlike any in the modern, more-or-less objective world of multinational media monsters.
The book only falls short at its end, when Hearst's final years are covered in a rushed manner and his attitudes and opinions regarding World War II and the early Cold War are barely discussed. Also, at no point does Nasaw say when or why Hearst became known as "The Chief." And the chapter on "Citizen Kane," while necessary, is not too well written.
This book is not quite as good as Smith's biography of Colonel Robert R. McCormack, but it again shows that the great newspapermen of the past were far more important than many realize.

As Time Goes By
As Time Goes By
by Michael Walsh
Edition: Hardcover
54 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but Completely Unnecessary Book, Nov. 20 2001
This review is from: As Time Goes By (Hardcover)
If this were not a sequel to a beloved film, I would be able to recommend it to anyone who likes old-fashioned WWII potboilers where good and evil clash and heroes make sacrifices, win the girl, and sneer at the coldness of their seeming superiors. It's an old, winning formula and makes for a good read.
But as the sequel to "Casablanca," it can't hope to live up to the original. What made the film is just not here. The actors who brought rather limited characters to life are missed. The sharp and quotable script is replaced by less lively dialogue and weak narration. The love of the characters and the fun Walsh has with them keep this readable, but the original can't be imitated and perhaps should not have been continued. Fans of the film are not likely to be angry with this, but some may be better off skipping it altogether.
As for the backstory of Rick Blaine, it's cute but I don't buy it. Everyone knows Rick is really the great-grandson of Rhett Butler, descended from that illegitimate child he left in Charleston. :) Making Rick what Walsh did adds little to the character, even if the scenes in prewar NYC are fun to read.

Kilroy Was Here: The Best American Humor from World War II
Kilroy Was Here: The Best American Humor from World War II
by Charles Osgood
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 27.08
41 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Tepid humor edited by someone who should know better, Aug. 30 2001
This book of humor lacked any of the bite that I would expect from veterans of the military bureaucracy so sharply satirized in "Catch-22." It's as if Osgood chose to reinforce the overblown portrayals of World War II veterans as demigods rather than as regular, vulgar, lusty, angry, scared humans. I've heard enough of Charles Osgood's work on the radio to know that he doesn't usually fear sacred cows, but he treats the vets and the war as such anyway. Hopefully, a future editor will explore a fuller range of humor from the war.

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