July 3, 2004

On Books: June

Its the beginning of the month so its time to look back on the best and worst books I consumed during the month of June...

What I Enjoyed:
The book that's stuck with me the most since I finished it is Nani Power's Crawling At Night. Its a very non-traditional novel yet the story of a Japanese sushi chef and his affection for woman who can only be described as a hopeless alcoholic has managed to stay lodged in my brain despite having read four or five other novels since. Also excellent was Douglas Coupland's Hey Nostradamus! Written from the perspective of four people involved in a very Columbine-like school shooting, the novel is disturbing yet heartfelt.

What Was Just Okay:
Just One Look, Harlan Coben's latest, delivered an enjoyable mystery but didn't live up to the expectations set by his previous three novels. Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was nothing spectacular despite the critical praise it received. I couldn't help but think he'd fallen well short of what he was obviously capable of. With Dead Even, Brad Meltzer did what he does best - write a character-driven legal thriller. It was entertaining, nothing more. The Coma is the latest release by Alex Garland, author of The Beach (from which the movie was made), The Tesseract and the screenplay for 28 Days Later. There's no questioning his talent but The Coma just didn't work. It was, in places, intriguing but lacked the punch of Garland’s previous efforts.

What Wasn't All That Hot:
Monkeewrench by PJ Tracy (actually a mother-daughter writing team) received a lot of hype but really wasn't great. It was a derivative throw-away. Jonathan Carroll's The Marriage of Sticks was just plain bad. That's particularly sad because I've read and enjoyed a few of his earlier novels.

As always, if you have any thoughts or recommendations, let me know!

Posted by Chris at July 3, 2004 5:54 PM

I agree with you completely about 'Curious Incident' - I was really impressed with the first third of the book, then I just kept thinking, "This could have been so much better..." Plus, I found loads of things in it to be contradictory - the little boy would ponder something he found strange, then in the very next chapter, he'd end up doing the exact same thing. Plus, the language in it kind of frightened me, simply because it's a book for ten-year-olds in England. Which seems funny, because it wouldn't have bothered me in an adult book, but for some reason, the fact that it's for kiddies made me wince.

Posted by: Heather at July 3, 2004 7:59 PM

I loved Hey Nostradamus. Not my favourite Coupland book, but it's high up there. Have you read Microserfs?

It was you that had read Dead Air (Banks), right? Almost everything that I've read by Banks, I've enjoyed.

Suggestions of the week: Cryptonomicon, by Neil Stephenson.

Posted by: Olive at July 3, 2004 8:18 PM

Hey Chris...I'm a BIG Brad Meltzer fan...have you read his latest, "Zero Game" yet?

I think The Tenth Justice is still my favorite though.

Have a great 4th!

Posted by: Joe at July 3, 2004 11:10 PM

Hey...have you read "Life of Pi"? If so, what did you think? I bought it but haven't got around to reading it yet.

Posted by: Heather at July 3, 2004 11:12 PM

Chris, you gotta steal your wife's Dark Tower books. The latest one is sooo "The Number of the Beast," and I need someone to discuss it with.

And Heather, I loathed "The Life of Pi." I was looking for a novel, not a religion. That's just me--hopefully you like it better than I did!

Posted by: Casey at July 3, 2004 11:30 PM

I've been reading a series of novels by Tim Cockey, "A Hearse of a Different Color", "The Hearse You Came In On", etc. I'm finding them fairly enjoyable, even if it does seem odd that the main character, Hitchcock Sewell, an undertaker, always has a friend who knows of someone who died under questionable circumstances and wants to Hitch to look into their deaths or help them do so. But there are only three novels so far, so maybe it won't become Murder She Wrote-esque.

I'll note your recommendations. Thanks.

Posted by: HR Lady at July 4, 2004 7:44 AM

Happy independance day, hope you have a great time, and better yet hope you dont have to work tomorrow. !!!!

Posted by: shane at July 4, 2004 8:56 AM

I went to law school with Brad Meltzer, and have all of his books even though I agree that most are "just okay."

Have you read "Rule of the Bone" by Russell Banks? That's one of my favorite books -- I guarantee you'd like it. And "Straight Man" by Richard Russo. I'm not a giant fan of Russo's other books, but I adore that one.

Posted by: martha at July 4, 2004 11:21 AM

Okay, I wanted to read Curious Incident, but maybe I'll wait.

And man, you read a lot. Which is good. But for a writer, I read slowly.

Posted by: Shiz at July 5, 2004 7:25 PM

If we're recommending, I love In the Beginning by Chaim Potok.

And Confederacy of Dunces, another gooder by John Kennedy Toole, is being made into a Will Ferrell/Drew Barrymore movie. I don't know how I feel about that.

Posted by: Shiz at July 5, 2004 7:29 PM