On the nightstand

Book Blog

February 19, 2012

Flashman (Review)

It was back in sixty-nine. I was a youngling then, eleven years old, not even shaving. We were stationed in Cubi Point, the Philippines, beastly hot, nothing to do (especially if one hadn’t hit puberty yet). And in the base library, I found this book, d’ya see? Flashman. Odd, but it had a strapping big bloke with a sword on the cover – not swinging it, rot the luck, but just standing all satisfied before a seated Indian girl. I was at the age where not much made sense – I’d read Ensign Flandery the year before and while I […]
February 12, 2012

Watership Down (Review)

The sad thing is, this epic tale of a group of rabbits driven into epic flight towards the high, dry hill (“Watership Down”) could probably not make it in today’s market. It’s too naturalistic, too paced in its telling, for modern audiences (trust me, how many times have I seen people pick up Early ReTyrement, flick-thumb its 357 pages and frown (“I gotta read all this?)). So a journey that lasts a lot longer, filled with descriptions of lazy English nature, would have a far harder sell these days. Animal Farm was once rejected because “Americans don’t like animal stories”. […]
January 23, 2012

Winchester Law (Review)

I’m in the middle of Arabian Nights right now, a long slow slog (though there are gems of wisdom scattered throughout). While trying to get Early ReTyrement seated at a local bookstore, I ended up picking up a couple of used novels, including this old 1988 western by Doyle Trent. I’m not going to review Winchester Law as much as I’m going to review the lost passion of Western writing. I read through the yarn and found long periods where nothing happened. Bill Williams staked out his land. He bought wire. He strung it up. He worried about where the […]
January 15, 2012

Pandemonium (Review)

What would you do if the earth broke apart under your feet, the sky turned black and the mountains fell upon the multitudes around you? Well, if you were a writer, you’d write about it! I mentioned the exibit of John Martin’s paintings HERE, all the biblical end-of-the-world, fire-and-brimstone you could cram into your eyeballs. While there, I picked up Pandemonium / Stories of the Apocalypse, a little set of end-of-the-word short stories marketed to go along with Martin’s display. Now, I’ve read EOTW stories before. Last year while in a down mood, I got two anthologies, one on the […]
November 27, 2011

The World House (review)

I picked up Restoration because it looked like interesting scifi, and had a cool cover with an English steam engine on it. It was only when I got home that I realized I got played in the airport bookstore way, that this was the second part to The World House. I only figured this out once I started reading and had no idea who all these characters were, and what they were talking about. It’s sure not clear on the cover. Anyway, read something else and started The World House once it came. Read the set back to back. It’s […]
August 28, 2011

Snow Crash (review)

If you are going to nit-pick Snow Crash for anything, you can bag it for being 20 years old. Okay, so there are light pens, some of the computer stuff is dodgy, Hong Kong was still independent and there are a lot of people whose pops fought in WW2. So in that, yeah, it feels old. But even on the third reading, the story swept me up again. I can distinctly remember picking up a copy in a downtown bookstore and going to Pizza Unos for lunch (the brick-n-mortar store, the pizza chain, even the cutzy shopping district are as […]
July 18, 2011

The Potter legacy

The end of the world came and I didn’t notice it, what with the bike rides, the model train constructions, dinner with friends, work and wife. The last Harry Potter movie hit the screens. Facebook had rung like a gong when Casey Anthony got off. Now it was ringing against from all the Potter fans bellowing about what a wondrous thing this series was, how it taught their kids to read, about morals, ethics, the importance of good vs. evil, of fellowship, of commitment. Yadda yad. That the adult fans point to their children as the justification for their canonization […]
July 16, 2011

Rivers of grass (Review)

Imagine reading a dramatization of a cancer or degenerative disease that has been slowly spreading through your body, one you were not fully aware of. You read of the wonderful nature of each organ, their function and interplay, and cringe as you follow their demise. The whole is breaking down. And you realize it is probably too late to reverse the process. This is pretty much what reading this beautiful, painful book is all about. Rivers of Grass follows the history of the Florida Everglades, from its geological makeup, its biological processes, its discovery and settling by nomadic Indian tribes, […]
April 3, 2011

The Ragged Astronauts (review)

My Florida room looks out across green native foliage. Beneath its wide widows is the grande shelf, three decks straining with books, the “I might want to read this again” books. Many of them I’ve read in college or before. Many of them are yellowing. But they are (or were, to that younger self I was) great books. The Ragged Astronauts comes from a time before many Avatar / Potter fans were born, 1986. Back then, youth still cared about the environment (to the point they didn’t throw their plastic bottles all over it). We were still jazzed about the […]
March 26, 2011

The Egyptologist (Review)

The act of observing an event changes an event. And sometimes, the act of reviewing a book ruins it for the readers. This is true for Arthur Phillip’s novel, The Egyptologist – how can one review a book for curious readers yet put up spoiler alerts? Rest assured – I’ll do my best not to give away any of the succulent moments or the gripping ending. So here goes… The novel takes place directly in 1922, and indirectly in 1954. told entirely through correspondence. The primary writings are from the Egyptologist himself through his combination of his working journal and […]