Thursday, March 30, 2006

"Kurt Busiek's Astro City: life in the big city" by Kurt Busiek

Kurt Busiek's Astro City : life in the big city by Kurt Busiek, 1996, 156389551X. From Beaver Dam.

Read a reference to this on the Fiction_L mailing list and ordered it. A comic book novel, sort of. This is a compilation of short stories (comic book style) set in Astro City, a renamed Manhattan. Home to numerous superheroes of the author's creation, Astro City is also suffering a seemingly endless crime wave. What a coincidence!

Good artwork and some good stories. I always dislike didactic comic book philosophizing though, and some of that is present.

I just searched the catalog to find the complete title for Astro City and discovered another part of the series published in 2000. I reserved that additional part.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Just Read: "Kiss Her Goodbye" by Allan Guthrie

"Kiss Her Goodbye" by Allan Guthrie, 2005, 2939800699, from Beaver Dam P.L.

Good book, told in the third person. From new paperback publisher Hard Case Crime. Hard Case is publishing new pulp novels, like this one, along with reprints from famous pulp authors like Lawrence Block.

Set in Edinburgh, Scotland. Main character Joe Hope works for lifelong friend, Cooper. Copper is a loanshark. So, Hope's workday starts at around 10 PM and involves breaking the bones of deadbeats.

The story starts off with Joe's wife, Ruth, informing him that his daughter, Gemma, has committed suicide. Gemma had been staying at a writers' retreat in the Orkney Islands with Adam, a cousin of Ruth. Blaming Adam for not protecting for 20 year old Gemma, Joe Hope flies up there to kill him. Upon arriving in the Orkneys, and getting beat up by the cops, Joe finds himself accused of murdering Ruth. Joe has been set-up with Ruth's bloody body in the trunk of his stolen and abandoned car.

Nice descriptive touches by Guthrie. I could see how things would end up but the story moved along and kept my interest. Minor characters were well done but Hope's lawyer was a stretch when he was assisting fugitive Joe.

Joe Hope is a scary dude with no remorse at all for the numerous bad things he has done. But, he has a sense of humour, is smart, and interesting to read about.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

"Graphic Classics: O. Henry" edited by Tom Pomplun.

"Graphic Classics: O. Henry" edited by Tom Pomplun, 9780974664820, 2005.

Good. Definitely worth reading. Comic book versions of thirteen O. Henry stories, illustrated by thirteen different artists. Story adapatations by both the editor and the artists.

Liked some of the adaptations, didn't like others. My dislike is due to the subjective matter of taste for the artwork. I suppose my dislikes and likes are mated to whether I feel the artwork enhances the story. But, I won't ponder that idea long enough to read the book again and make comments.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Finished listening to, "The Hostile Hospital" by Lemony Snicket

"Hostile Hospital" by Lemony Snicket, read by Tim Curry, 1402537468, 2003 (audio).

Best of the Baudelaire stories I have heard. Characters, characters' histories and their relationships are being revealed more and more. Makes for a more compelling story. The paper cutter aspect of earlier books are falling aside.

Tim Curry does a really good job. The villains are horrible people and a hospital burns down due to Count Olaf's arson.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Did not read: "Soledad Brother" by George Jackson

Did not read: "Soledad Brother" by George Jackson, 1994 paperback edition, 1556522304.

Self serving crap by a convict shot dead in 1971 when trying to escape from prison. Famous figure, and a good writer, but give me a break. It really annoys me that Jackson's 17 year old brother, Jonathan, is referred to as a revolutionary. Jonathan was killed when attempting to break out three convicts from the Marin County Courthouse in 1970. Jonathan got himself killed, along with several others, when trying to escape the courthouse to drive to a radio station to demand his brother's prison release. I very much doubt that the three convicts, there at the courtroom by chance (I'm sure), would have stuck around for the revolutionary blather of Jonathan Jackson. George apparently fed his younger brother a load of bunk and started him on the way to getting killed.

George, self-serving convict, made some good points in his political arguments and was a smart fella. But, overall the letters are a load of baloney.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Did not read: "Spinning blues into gold" by Nadine Cohodas

"Spinning blues into gold: the Chess brothers and the legendary Chess records" by Nadine Cohodas, 2000, 0312261330.

Just because you like some of the records doesn't mean you should read the history of the record company.

I did look at the pictures.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

"The World's best sex writing 2005" edited by Mitzi Szereto

"The World's best sex writting 2005" edited by Mitzi Szereto, 1560257725

Eh. Collection of essays, columns, news reporting, legal theory, memoirs, and other writings. The focus of each piece is directly related to sex: sex toy laws in Alabama, memoirs of a hooker, fruit fly reproduction.

I read a few of the pieces but there was nothing so interesting that drove me to read them all.

Friday, March 10, 2006

"Already Dead" by Charlie Huston

"Already Dead" by Charlie Huston, 2005, 034547824X

Very good. A detective novel from Huston. A good hard boiled novel set in present day Manhattan. Difference is that the narrator, Joe, is a vampire who was infected with the "Vyrus" in 1980 when giving a john a handjob in the bathroom at CGBG. He survives his infection through the help of another vampire, Terry, to find Manhattan vampire life is strictly divided into different vampire clan territories. Joe is a Rogue, allied to no clan, but lives by permission on one of the clan's territories. Joe works as a debt collector and sort-of PI.

Under threats made by the Coalition clan, Joe takes a job looking for a rich, runaway teenager who likes slumming. Very similar to a Chandler story with competing interests, lousy rich people, bratty self-involved kid, a down on his luck investigator, blah, blah, blah.

Typically good dialogue by Huston with good characterization of Joe and some other characters. Plotting is good but not perfect. The dynamics of his relationship with his girlfriend are interesting, and I am glad he didn't focus on that and turn this into a chick book.

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Did not finish: "The Men of Company K: the autobiography of a World War II rifle company" by Harold Leinbaugh and John Campbell

Did not finish: "The Men of Company K: the autobiography of a World War II rifle company"

"The Men of Company K: the autobiography of a World War II rifle company" by Harold Leinbaugh and John Campbell, 1985, 0688044212.

Interesting book but I am taking too long to finish it. Co. K landed in Europe in late '44 and started fighting at the dragons teeth of the Siegfried Line, were pulled out to the Bulge and then fought through Germany.

Good book and I'd like to hear about the campaign into and through Germany, but I've had this too long and need to cut it loose. Maybe I can pick it up again. I left off at page 108.

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Read: "Dearly Devoted Dexter" by Jeff Lindsay

Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay, 2005.

Very good book. Better than the first in the series which had a far fetched plot twist at the end. This one is a bit darker and highlights Dexter's lack of feeling and emotion.

Dr. Denko is dismembering former Army colleagues piece by piece until the end result is a living torso with a head (minus eyelids, teeth, ears, all hair, and lips). Dexter is, of course, intrigued by the technique and interests of Denko and his reasons for the procedures he uses. Dexter's avocational interests were like that in the first novel but in this one his colleagues and sister are more closely involved and endangered.

Sergeant Doakes, still out to catch Dexter, is kidnapped for dismemberment as is Dexter's sister's new boyfriend, Kyle. Dexter has no concern at all for either of them but he is concerned about his sister's opinion of him and recognizes her importance to his life. He only becomes involved in their rescue through persuasion and pressure. Dexter's disregard for Doakes and Kyle is obvious when he comes across the two of them while they are being cut-up and he is more interested in inspecting than saving them.

Dexter also discovers that the son of his "girlfriend", and newly mistaken fiance, is likely a Dexter-in-progress. Dexter is joyous at the thought of shepherding the kid through the stages of learning to be a killer. Pretty creepy.

But, there is still a lot of humour in the novel and Dexter is a likeable character. Dexter recognizes that he is not normal and his comments and views on human society and behaviours are funny.