Sunday, February 25, 2007

Finished: "Uncommon Carriers" by John McPhee

Finished: Uncommon Carriers by John McPhee, 2006, 0374280398.

I've always liked McPhee's books a lot. Except for the geology ones; they bore me to tears. This is a collection of, presumably, New Yorker pieces about 'carriers', meaning shippers. Trucks, barges, trains, etc.

McPhee always writes nonfiction. He'll hang out and observe a guy or group of people for a decent amount of time, do what seems to me like an extraordinary amount of research on the topic, and then report. McPhee is a great writer and the information he randomly plugs in to his work is surprising and illuminating.

This is the sixth book of his I have read and it was good. Uncommon just did not jolt me and highly impress me like his other books have. Maybe because this is a collection; McPhee does not have the room to expand on the subject.

This most interesting piece is about UPS and their MASSIVE sorting facility in Louisville, KY. The next most interesting piece has McPhee travel to a lake in the Swiss Alps where blue water sailors come to train on scale sized cargo ships.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Listened to: The Carnivorous Carnival by Lemony Snicket

Listened to: The Carnivorous Carnival by Lemony Snicket.

I'm edging closer and closer to finishing the series off. I have read maybe one or two of the books, the rest have been audio versions. I don't even remember which number Carnivorous is in the Unfortunate Events series.

The books keep getting better. They are progressively darker and more dangerous.

Carnivorous one has Sunny, Klaus and Violet hiding in the trunk of the Count Olaf's car as the Count drives away from the burning Hostile Hospital. They travel to the Hinterlands where the Count visits Madame Lulu's carnival to have his fortune told. Disguising themselves as freaks, the orphans discover how Lulu has scammed the Count and find out that Lulu was once a member of the mysterious V.F.D. Lulu provides the orphans just enough key information about V.F.D. and their supposedly dead parents before she is eaten by lions. The orphans maintain their trick identities but the Count finds them out and kidnaps Sunny at the end of the novel. Oooohhh. A cliffhanger!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Read: "In the Electric Mist with the Confederate Dead" by James Lee Burke

Read: In the Electric Mist with the Confederate Dead by James Lee Burke, 1993, 038072121X (paper).

I had not read one of Burke's novels in quite awhile. I had burned out on Burke's Dave Robicheaux books a few years ago after reading a string of them in a row. I'll have to try and fit in some more Robicheaux novels. I listened to one from Burke's Texas series before and did not like it so much so I'll skip that stuff.

In short, Robicheaux busts big-time actor for drunk driving, actor tells of old body in swamp, Dave lets him go, finds that body plus a murdered teen whore, gangsters come to town, Dave has hallucinations, and so on. Burke plots a good story like usual but it's his writing skills and characters that make the book.

I actually finished this about a week ago. I had passed over this novel before because of the odd title. I thought it sounded stupid.

Did not finish: "Zombie Butts from Uranus!" by Andy Griffiths

Did not Finish: Zombie Butts from Uranus! by Andy Griffiths, 2003, 0439424704.

This was a major disappointment. How can you screw up a book with a great title like that? A fantastic concept too. From the book cover:

"Zack Freeman is on his way to becoming a first rate butt-fighter. He has gone head-to-butt with all kinds of stinky scoundrels and butts-gone-bad. But even our doody-full hero is a-gassed by these latest stench invaders. They're round, blue, and smelly. They're ruthless, cunning, and very cheeky. Their odor is unstoppable. Their mission is downright foul. And they won't rest until Earth is wiped away by their nasty fumes."

A major part of the disappointment is that this is part of a Butt trilogy. I was all geared to read three great books and was massively disappointed.

Did not start: Butt Wars! The Final Conflict by Andy Griffiths

Did not Start: Butt Wars! The Final Conflict by Andy Griffiths, 2005, 0439747503.

After the disappointment of Zombie Butts from Uranus! I did not bother.