Beach Reading

Spent the last week in Hawaii — while on the beach:

* “Amnesia Moon”:amazon by Lethem. In the philip dick vein. Intersting core thesis about fracturing of reality as a response to an external threat. And I am sure that this is the only book I’ve ever read with a blurb by “mc 900 foot jesus”:amazon. How many people on the planet own cds by mc 900 foot jesus and have read this book?
* “Snowfall”:amazon, “Kingdom River”:amazon by Mitchell Smith.
Decent post apocalyptic yarn. In this case, set in north america sometime after a new ice age, and society has become much more primitive. In the first book, the action is paced well, and the unhappy endings for many of the ?good? protagonists creates a level of reality and pathos that tales of this sort normally don’t attain. The second book falls off quite a bit — pacing not as good and the hero is a bit too invincible.
* “A frolic of his own”:amazon by Gaddis. Ok I hate to give up on a book part way thru. I feel like I am wasting the time I’ve already invested in the book, and I feel like I am letting the author defeat me in some strange intellectual contest. But I have to put this down after about 75 pages. I have no idea where the author is headed, I am not intrigued by the characters. The writing style is particularly annoying — we have perfectly good ways to punctuate conversation, why invent new ones which obscure meaning? I assume the author is making a point with this style, perhaps it ties back to the theme (a critique of our litigious culture per one of the jacket blurbs) but it is tiring. One of the jacket blurbs, from richard lacayo of Time magazine, says ?Practically rebuilds the Tower of Babel from the sounds and furies of the late 20th century.?. I have no idea what this means, I can’t make any sense of it, and so I guess it is a very fitting description of this book.
* “Icarus”:amazon by Russell Andrews. Like mary higgins clark, only longer. And a bit dull at times. Length kind of beat some of the suspense out.
* “Democracy in America”:amazon. I can see why this remains on so many recommended reading lists after 150 years; it is still a very relevant discussion of American politics and history. I am only partway thru but finding this very readable. When you’ve grown up in a particular system, you take so much of it for granted, it is fascinating to see it through someone else’s eyes. A great rehash of inheritance and estates early on that reminds me why estate taxes are not such a bad thing.
* “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell”:amazon. A trendy choice that I expected to dislike, but thia is a very good tale. Thematicallly like “tim powers”:amazon but with very deep characters. Like all stories of this ilk, the metaphysical windup is a bit mushy and nonsensical, but this is no worse than most. I found norrell’s transformation at the end a bit unbelievable, I’d like to have seen deeper development throughout the book of his guilt around introducing the main antagonist into the world, as I think this guilt was the motivator for him to eventually transform himself. Without this development, his transformation seemed a little pat. I’d give it an a- lots of loose ends, but I hope the author avoids doing a sequel as I don’t think wrapping up the loose ends will improve the story.