01 December 2006

100 Books - 65-61

Now playing at Scott's blog: THE RETURN OF THE 100 BOOKS LIST!!!

Seriously, I've been reading and not commenting due to professional, personal and avocational pursuits; namely, two funerals, a pregnant wife who does require occasional care and feeding and our latest community theatre production, "A Sven & Ole Christmas." You betcha - it's a pretty good deal, don'tcha know.

Anyway, here's what I've read in the past month:

65: The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. I watched the movie starring Emma Thompson and Sir Anthony Hopkins several years ago - long enough ago that I didn't remember anything but servants scuttling about in an old British manor. Now that I've read this excellent novel, I'll need to rent the movie again and see if I like it better. Ishiguro unwraps the main character, Stevens, in a first person narrative that draws in the reader in a most wonderful fashion. His descriptions of his driving vacation through English countryside make the reader wish for an open car and a few days to ramble to your heart's content. The further Stevens drives, the more deep his introspection delves until he's finally able to see things much differently than he had previously done. That's about all I can say without spoiling the novel - but I will highly recommend it.

64. Lisey's Story by Stephen King. Lisey's Story, unfortunately, reads to me like a poor man's Bag Of Bones. The plots are similar: widow/widower grieving beloved spouse, who is attempting contact from beyond the grave, with some unresolved issues that are, of course, supernatural in nature. But as is usually the case, it's King's writing that saves the day. His characters are especially vibrant here, and though the plot will seem rehashed to Constant Readers, it's entertaining enough to keep you in the game. I don't regret this read. Even though it feels very familiar, it's like a great stretch of road in a different season - sometimes you notice different things in a different light.

63. Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan. The tenth in the seemingly never-ending Wheel of Time series (seriously, is this wheel ever going to stop rolling?). Rand al'Thor is still the Dragon Reborn, still fighting against the Dark One, and still counting on his friends Mat Cauthon and Perrin Aybara. Perrin's wife has been kidnapped by the Shaido, and Perrin is giving chase as best he can. Mat is fighting his way out of Seanchan territory with Tuon, the Daughter of the Nine Moons, whom he's been told he will marry someday. Elayne Trakand, one of Rand's three sister-wives, is trying to solidly claim the Lion Throne of Andor. And this is all just part of the plot. Not a lot of resolution here, unfortunately, but Knife of Dreams has recently been published in paperback and I'm told there is some resolution there. Look for a report soon.

62. A Testament to Freedom by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Geffrey B. Kelley and F. Burton Nelson, editors). I'm throwing this one in because it's an invaluable resource to people wanting to get a lifelong perspective on Bonhoeffer without purchasing the entire Dietrich Bonhoeffer Werke. There are sections of biography, on his early writings, on his work as a pastor, some sermons, some major sections of Ethics and Discipleship, his best-known works, poetry and some of his letters and papers from prison. I use this resource extensively when looking for quotes or quick reference, and I'd highly recommend it to those who wish to know more about this 20th century theologian, pastor and martyr.

61. Outbound Flight by Timothy Zahn. A few years ago I took a banker's box full of Star Wars books to our local library. The only ones I kept were the Thrawn Trilogy (Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising and The Last Command) written by Timothy Zahn. I got Outbound Flight from the library and would gladly add it to my small collection - it's a great book. The nice thing about Zahn is that he knows the Star Wars universe well, but doesn't WORSHIP the damned story. Some Star Wars writers write like George Lucas, unfortunately: so full of the ideas, philosophies and meta-narratives within Star Wars that they can't get out of their own way. If Zahn had been a screenwriter for Episodes One-Three, you can bet your ass they would have been better movies. At least the dialogue would have been believable. Anyway, Outbound Flight is the pre-story to Heir to the Empire: we meet Jorus C'baoth and not-yet-Grand-Admiral Thrawn, who clash in the Unknown Regions beyond the Outer Rim in a dispute between the Republic's right to explore, Thrawn's right to protect his race from enemies near and far, and a smuggler chased by the Hutts far beyond anywhere they'd like to be. Political intrigue, art and philosophy and a good helping of Star Wars gadgetry make this a great read.

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