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Reading for February, 2008

Fight Club (1996) by Chuck Palahniuk. Pointless. This is the second book I’ve read by Palahniuk, and I think I get the gist: although he doesn’t care much about writing, it is a good way to make a living.
Other reading for the month: Made some progress on A Prayer for Owen Meaney. Also started Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh, as well as the classic Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. I read Brenda Richardson’s essay in Jennifer Bartlett, Early Plate Work, which unfortunately diminished my enthusiasm for her work somewhat. And I have a copy of Steven Pinker’s latest “linguistic” exploration, The Stuff of Thought. Here’s a taste, from the introductory chapter:

A name points to a person in the world in the same way that I can point to a rock in front of me right now.

What a wretched analogy.

Billy Joel in Anaheim, CA

On February 23 my wife and I went to sell Billy Joel perform in Anaheim. Here’s a list of the songs he played at the concert:
Angry Young Man
It’s My Life
Everybody Loves You
The Entertainer
The Ballad of Billy the Kid
New York State of Mind
Root Beer Rag
Movin’ Out
Don’t Ask Me Why
Captain Jack
Always a Woman
Keeping the Faith
River of Dreams
Highway to Hell (written by AC/DC) (featuring Chainsaw)
We Didn’t Start the Fire
Still Rock And Roll to Me
You May Be Right
Italian Restaurant
Only the Good Die Young
Piano Man

Reading for January, 2008

After reviewing my 2007 reading list I felt I needed to boost the quality of my reading. This happens every now and then. And so I naively return to the famous authors, those brilliant Pulitzer and Nobel earners, to see what I have missed.
Sula (1973) by Toni Morrison. More of a sketch for a novel than a fully realized novel.
The Sportswriter (1986) by Richard Ford. I found little of interest in the story. I kept reading past the first two chapters because I wanted to see how much of the plot had been stolen for the 2005 film The Weather Man. Not too much, it turns out, aside from the translation of a superficial sportswriter into a superficial weather man, and a scene where the protagonist secretly parks outside of his ex-wife’s home and talks to his son.
Rabbit, Run (1960) by John Updike.

Reading for December, 2007

The holidays gave me some time to catch up on my reading. I didn’t start anything new, but I did finish Sophie’s Choice by William Styron, which I started in October of 2006. At times Styron’s writing is very forced, those times when he has quite obviously pulled out the thesaurus to find another word for “desirable”. On a larger scale, the story itself is quite stunning.
The 1982 film version is far too short to explore the full story.
I have made some progress on Against the Day, which has been languishing on my desk for the past few months. I am now up to page 648.
Over the weekend I decided Against the Day was a little too bulky for airplane travel, so I resumed John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany over the course of a short trip to Texas. I am about 2/3 done with this.

Prison Tycoon 3

Well folks, it looks like one of the least entertaining tycoon games of all time is now on its third release: Prison Tycoon 3: Lockdown is now available.
I can’t tell you anything about it aside from the information on the official website. Maybe it is playable, maybe the simulation is complete. At the very least, it couldn’t be worse than the first version, could it?

Reading for October, November 2007

Reread of Postmortem (1990) by Patricia Cornwell. The first Kay Scarpetta novel, which is now up to fifteen books. I first read this in 1996 or 1997, just before I started work on Dr. K—.
The Spriggan Mirror (2006) by Lawrence Watt-Evans. A chance purchase at the bookstore, I was just checking to see what if any books of his are on the shelves these days. A fun read, if a little self-indulgent — recycled characters, following up on books from 1987 and 1993.
Appointment in Samarra (1934) by John O’Hara. Number 22 on the Modern Library list.
Abandoned books: Death of the Heart (1938) by Elizabeth Bowen. Too wordy, no likable characters in the first 100 pages, time for something else.

Reading for September 2007

Ah, such a silent blog. Does anybody stop by anymore? I can’t tell, because no one can leave comments.
In September I read:
A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. The writing gets better after the first hundred pages, sloppy editing I guess. I’ve read the plot summaries for the rest of the series on Wikipedia, so I won’t be continuing this series unless, for some strange reason, I find myself with nothing to read.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. Hosseini’s first novel was largely written by the editors at Riverhead Books. This one didn’t get worked on quite as much, so it drags a bit. My one sentence summary: A beautiful girl and a resourceful cripple find pastoral happiness thanks to the painful sacrifices of the innocent, set against a backdrop of a country that certainly sounds like Afghanistan but it doesn’t really matter.

Reading for July and August, 2007

I am in progress on two books, and have finished two books in the past two months.
In progress: Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon. Currently on page 406 (the end of part 2).
In progress: 20th Century Chemistry by Joseph I. Routh, 1953. Yes, a 54 year old chemistry book that predates the moon landings and most of the Cold War, intended for high school seniors or college students. But in truth it provides some good information on many industrial processes — today’s equivalent would be a super glossy textbook filled with color photos and illustrations, with a special column explaining the environmental dangers posed by each industry, and who wants to read that for fun?

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