Monday, June 27, 2011

Gave Up LIstening: "Wicked City" by Ace Atkins

Gave Up Listening: Wicked City by Ace Atkins, audio version downloaded from Overdrive, 2008 (print).

I listened to a quarter of this and just didn't care. Based on the true life mobster town of Phenix City, AL. Told through real characters from the time. I got through a quarter of this and not much was happening. After the beginning murder not much happens. Besides, since this is a true story you already know that the town was cleaned out and the mobsters ran off or indicted.

I don't like books that fictionalize real people. Sure, I like Cornwell's novels and the insertion of Wellington. But, Wellington is a minor character. These fictionalization annoy me.

The editing was screwed up, too. The gaps between chapters or scenes were not spaced far enough apart and confused things for me. I didn't really like the narrator either. His character voices were not distinct enough for me.

Monday, June 13, 2011

DNF: "Stiltsville" by Susanna Daniel

DNF: Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel, 2010, 9780061963070.

This was interesting up to a point. The point being page 118, where I quit. Nothing really happens. Gal visits Miami, gal makes good friend, gal falls for guy, gal moves to Miami, gal marries guy, gal has daughter, gal has ennui, gal spends time on stilt house in the Bay of Biscayne.

I think Daniel does some good writing but there was not enough going on for me to stay with the story. I kept thinking about Dexter and Miami. I kept thinking about that Miami Vice episode where they have a shoot-out at Stiltsville and someone had an AUG. Then I start thinking about all the other Miami Vice episodes and want to re-watch them on Hulu. Especially the episode with Jim Zubiena. I need more time and ammo. And a single action. With big sights.

Daniel lives in Madison. Maybe I should ask her to drive over this Fall as a speaker. The brief bio says she grew up in Miami. How often have people in Iowa and Wisconsin asked how she likes the winters here?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Read: "Tomorrow River" by Lesley Kagen

Read: Tomorrow River by Lesley Kagen, 2010, 9780525951544.

Meh. 11 year old girl, Shenny, in 1969 Viriginia wants to find her missing mother. Mom has been missing a year and Sheeny's twin sister, Woody, has not talked since the night the mom disappeared. They still live on the family estate with their father, the local judge. The father is a violent drunk who locks them into the storm cellar when he is angry with them. Shenny still deeply loves her father and hopes for a return to the loving relationships the family used to have. Father forbids them to leave the estate and Shenny and Woody have to sneak off to visit friends and search for mom.

1. Kind of a Southern Gothic/YA/Mystery/bildungsroman novel.
2. Touches on several social issues. Mainly on race relations and the treatment of women in society. Shenny is young and loves her father and is blind to how the dad was so controlling with the mom.
3. Depending on your view Shenny could come off as an idiot who is unable to see the many clues that point to a violent end to their mom. I can believe that Shenny was unable to see what was there. She is only 11 and trusting in her parents.
4. SPOILER: I think Kagen cops out by having the mom be alive in the end. I do like the happy ending, but it was not believable. Aw, heck. I like happy endings enough to swallow the plot's baloney but at least I know I am doing it.

Finished: "The Universe in Miniature in Miniature" by Patrick Somerville

Finished: The Universe in Miniature in Miniature by Patrick Somerville, 2010, 9780982580813.

Pretty decent. Short stories with a magical realism element. At least I think it's magical realism. The stories are roughly connected around a stabbing murder on the streets of Chicago. Very roughly connected, the killing is very minor to most stories.

The title story is first. As I wrote on the library's blog: skip it. The last story, The Machine of Understanding Other People, was the best. Two strangers are told they have inherited the fortune of a long lost uncle. One is an alcoholic attorney in Chicago. The other is a social worker in England.

1. I was thinking about this book while mowing the lawn. While thinking I thought of a few things worth saying. I have forgotten those things. That, somehow, seems in keeping with many of the book's stories.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Viewed: "Death Scenes" Edited by Sean Tejaratchi

Viewed: Death Scenes: a homicide detective's scrapbook, edited and designed by Sean Tejaratchi, 1996, 0922915296.

I picked this up after reading Steve Hodel's book. He refers to Death Scenes when writing about the Lipstick Killer. Huddleston had a couple photos of the Lipstick Killer corpse in his scrapbook.

Huddleston was a policeman for 30 years in the Los Angeles area. He was a homicide detective for LAPD but, beyond that, the book has little information on him. The introduction says the editors asked LAPD for more information on Huddleston but none was provided.

The photographs are mostly gruesome and sad scenes of homicides, suicides, and accidents. There are photos of arrests, hookers, flashers, and body parts. Shotgun suicides obliterate the face and head. Dead children photos make me turn away.

1. The intro talks about how the gruesome crimes show that the good old days were also bad old old days. Not shit, Sherlock. It annoys me greatly when people say how awful crime is. How callous today's teen murderers are. How you never heard of mass murder in the '50s. Just because you never heard it does not mean it never happened. Of all of today's crime only a fraction gets newspaper coverage.
2. My reading this book began with Megan Abbotts' Bury Me Deep. I read that. I starting reading Abbott's blog. The blog discussions touched on Hodel's book. I read Hodel's book and learned of this. I read this book and see photos of the dismembered corpse of Hedvig Samuelson, murdered by Ruth Winnie Judd. Judd was the basis for Bury Me Deep.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Just Finished: "Apocalypse of the Dead" by Joe McKinney

Just Finished: Apocalypse of the Dead by Joe McKinney, 2010,9780786023592.

Good. Short description: Zombie novel. Another description: Zombie version of The Stand.

I read an online recommendation for a different zombie novel by McKinney entitled Quarantined. I'd have to get that through ILL but this was at Beaver Dam. This seems to be a follow-up to McKinney's Dead City but I do not know if he continues characters.

Story: About two years ago several hurricanes hit the TX coast. A zombie infection spreads and pretty soon a flooded Houston is overrun by zombies. The government quickly builds a containment wall to quarantine the city and everyone - zombie and living alike - are stuck inside. The Quarantine Authority is established and they and the Coast Guard are tasked with air patrols to make sure no one escapes by land or water. Anyone escaping is shot. Some people do sneak out on a fishing boat, have a sick person aboard, land in Florida and spread the disease.

McKinney follows several groups of people from Las Vegas, Houston (escaping), Florida, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, and South Texas. At first everyone is fleeing to a zombie-free safe zone but the zombies spread just as fast. A revivalist preacher in Mississippi has a vision to head to North Dakota and build a safe haven. Word spreads and McKinney's different groups arrive there. The new town, named Grasslands after the park they built on, is well made and organized but the preacher is a nut job, a cult leader. Things happen. People are bitten. People die. Some parts of society fall apart including an Anthony Neil Smith styled biker gang taking over Van Horn, TX. Characters change. Characters interact. Many gunshots. Little sex aside from rape.

1. McKinney's zombies change over the time of the disease. He has several characters talk about how zombies move and react. They sleep, don't freeze in the snow, "stage 3" zombies can climb ladders and sometimes respond to names, etc.
2. Insane character Barnes is a wicked fast gunman.
3. Van Horn is very small. I thought about using the Google street view for some of the locations but will not bother.
4. This was 502 freaking pages long. He could have cut 200 of those.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Read/Viewed: "No Man's Land" by George Pratt

Read/Viewed: No Man's Land: a postwar sketchbook by George Pratt, 1992, 187945064x.

I saw something online about a World War I sketcher. The website was about a Canadian soldier whose work took him from the ditches into a safer job. There was a compilation book of the guy's work and while checking the catalog (it was not available) I ran across this.

But, this is not the same. This is work by a cartoonist who was doing research for a WWI themed book. Heck, I recognize some of the photographs that Pratt worked from. The work itself is good - mostly - but I wanted to see work by a participant.

This is mostly ink sketches and grey monotypes. There are a few color pieces with washed out, earth colors. I do not care for most of the ink sketches, they were too rough and quickly done for me. There is one (untitled and no page numbers) I did like with some Limeys looking over a ditch's parapet with their rifles on the sandbags.

Quotes are spread throughout.