Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Catching Up a Bit

The ARC gods at LibraryThing have been extraordinarily good to me recently, but before I get to those books, it turns out I have a few from earlier I need to acknowledge.

  • Dreamers of the Day, Mary Doria Russell. The first two-thirds of this book, describing Agnes's early life and travel to Cairo, are well-written and entertaining, and Russell's portraits of the real-life figures of Churchill, Lawrence, and others are fascinating. However, the whole tone of the book is a little too "fly on the wall of history" -- Agnes has no real effect on the unfolding of events, and they in turn don't really do anything to alter the arc of her life. The quasi-mystical/fantasy/religious final segment is completely tacked on and unnecessary.
  • Tokyo Year Zero, David Peace. I made several valiant tries, but I could not progress more than a couple of chapters into this book. The incoherent style and unpleasant subject matter made it unreadable to me.
  • Pushing Up Daisies, Rosemary Harris. It's hard to find much to say about this debut mystery, which is sort of like rice pudding: OK if you like that sort of thing, but not the most original or tastiest dessert in the bunch. The mystery is fairly well plotted (although the murderer is obvious from the get-go), and some of the secondary characters are well drawn (unfortunately, not the heroine). One annoying point: I found it impossible to tell what the heroine's background in television was supposed to be. Was she a filmmaker? A scheduling executive? Or what?