Thursday, January 29, 2009

Buncha books - issue 6

First of all, COME ON PEOPLE, a five-way tie? Fine, I'll just randomly select... Third Degree by Greg Iles to read next.

Normally, in a "Buncha books" issue, I try to cover at least 6 books. I don't know if I'll get to that many today, but I'll do as many as I can. I'm going to start with The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall. It's been a long time since I read this novel, so I hope I remember everything correctly. I'm having a difficult time trying to formulate into words how to describe this novel. Bizarre, yet strangely compelling, it is about a man, Eric Sanderson, who wakes up one day and can't remember anything, but he gets notes of direction from himself, as this is apparently not the first time he has woken up with no memory. Turns out his memory loss is due to a conceptual shark that feeds on thoughts and memories. Something has made Eric a target of this shark and he goes on the run to avoid it while simultaneously trying to find the person responsible for its creation and determine how to destroy it. He takes with him his cat, Ian, and along the way he meets Scout, who, as part of the Un-Space Exploration Committee, is trying to find the shark that is after Eric. I did mention bizarre, didn't I? This novel is ultimately about the power of language (I think, anyway) and I enjoyed the little extras that were thrown in. There was lots of word play, beginning right at the title (Raw Shark Texts = Rorschach Test). The evil mastermind behind the conceptual fish is Mycroft Ward (Microsoft Word). There is even a flip book contained within the pages of the novel. The novel ends in a "Moby Dick"-type standoff, but I'll leave it to you to read for the outcome. I think this is a novel that you'll either find intriguing or you'll hate with an undying passion and you may hate me for telling you that I found it intriguing and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys things that screw with your mind. This book certainly will. Four picklebottoms.

Next I'll cover The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain. This novel is about a young girl, CeeCee Wilkes, who is coerced into getting involved in a kidnapping plot as the guard of the victim, who is the governor's wife. She didn't realize that the victim was pregnant, and during the night, the woman goes into labor and has a baby. She then hemorrhages and dies. CeeCee goes on the run with the baby. The novel is about her life, the life of the baby and what happens when the truth is exposed. I really enjoyed this book. When my mom was in town, I gave it to her to read and she read it in two days. Four picklebottoms.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is a novel about the life of a man, Amir, who grew up in Afghanistan and his father's servant's son, Hassan, who grew up with him. As boys they were the best of friends whose favorite activity was running kites. During a kite running competition, something occurs that changes everything. Amir cannot forget his cowardice in the face of the unspeakable event and his feelings of guilt haunt him, even after he and his father flee Afghanistan to America. Eventually he goes back to Afghanistan, where he just might find redemption. This book is amazing. The author uses very simple language, nothing flowery at all, and manages to convey incredible depth of feeling. I highly recommend this novel. 4 1/2 picklebottoms.

Now, though I have a blue million books in the pile to be reviewed, it's only fair that I cover the ones you selected for me to read recently, so I will now review the two you've selected for me so far.

The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst is a somewhat odd novel. Linguistics professor Paul Iverson receives a phone call while at work from the police. His wife, Lexy, has died due to a fall from the apple tree in their backyard. The only witness to the accident was their dog, Lorelei. Paul becomes obsessed with teaching the dog to speak so she can tell him what happened. I won't tell you whether or not he was successful, or if he figures out what led to his wife's fall. I will tell you that it is a pretty interesting, though strange, novel. There were a few unbelievable coincidences, like Lorelei's origins, but given that this is fiction, I guess I can suspend my disbelief in that case. I've read some mixed reviews on this book, and to be honest, I think my opinion is a bit mixed as well. Overall, though, it was a pretty decent read. I'll give it 3 1/2 picklebottoms.

And finally, Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. I love novels written from the point of view of someone with a mental disorder, and this was no exception. This novel was about a man, Charlie Gordon, who was born mentally retarded. A method to increase intelligence is developed, and after testing it on several mice, a mouse named Algernon being the most successful, the treatment is going to be tried on a human, Charlie Gordon. The novel covers, from Charlie's point of view, the changes that take place in his life following the treatment. Does the treatment work? If so, how well and does it "stick"? The novel is heartbreaking, yet hopeful, as is what he learns about himself and others. Four picklebottoms.


Jess said...

I LOVE your rating system. Picklebottoms! Brilliant!

Chantal said...

Love the picklebottoms! If you loved the Kite Runner you will also LOVE "A Thousand Splendid Suns" (the follow up to Kite Runner.) Its Afghanistan from a woman's point of view. Amazing and frightening.

Shelly said...

This is a great list. And as usual, I've read none of those. I've added several of them to my list of books to check out!

Alice said...

hee. i do love the picklebottoms.

i'm STILL scarred from reading flowers for algernon in grade school. TOO SAD for my little 12 year old self!

bernthis said...

I had a baby bag made by Petunia Picklebottom, any relation?

P.S. Kite Runner- amazing. Flowers for Algernon, I still cry

Astarte said...

I love pinklebottoms!!!! That's awesome!!!! :) I wish I had a pinklebottom. I just have a dimplebottom. Not as cute at all.

I've requested CeeCee Wilkes and Flowers for Algernon from the library, and can't wait to read them! I agree that you'd really like A Thousand Splendid Suns; I thought it was even way better than Kite Runner.