Third Quarter II, Into the Fourth

The Brick book list with sketchy reviews, continued.

Book List through October 2010

September 2010

Solar by Ian McEwan. Book on CD. The novel by the polished McEwan got mixed reviews but I liked it. It’s a successful comic novel whose hero is brilliant but a buffoon, who wages a cynical war against global warming. The audiobook concludes with a brief author’s interview, which indicated the ending pointed to a bright, comic future, and not sad and short-lived as I took it to be.

October 2010

Who Owns the Sky?: Our Common Assets and the Future of Capitalism by Peter Barnes. Didn’t finish. I might agree with most of it but it’s a book-length polemic, and I lost patience.

Super Sad True Love Story, by Gary Shteyngart. In paper, after trying an audio version a few months ago, I found I still didn’t like it. Hollow, sniveling characters.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson. Book on CD. Last of the trilogy. A newspaper story more than ever, as Blomqvist’s lover Erica now is editor-in-chief of a venerable, sleepy daily. Due to its popularity I had to return it to the library, after reserving it again; it’ll be winter before I get it back. Sure the trilogy’s conclusion wraps up loose ends, but it maintains the cleverness, the heart, and at its root the outrage against crimes against women.

Nox by Anne Carson. An elegy for a brother whom the longtime poet barely knew. In a box is one continuous card-stock page, folded accordion style, with nearly all pages appearing to be a scrapbook, printed/photographed realistically from the original collage. Clever and heartbreaking. Like any book of poetry — though this is more memoir than verse — it can be read in an hour or slowly pondered for a week.

Invisible by Paul Auster. Didn’t finish. Auster is quaint and subtly fun but I’m on strike against non-purposeful passive protagonists. Here is another one.

Thomas Paine by Craig Nelson. Book on CD. To date, I’m halfway through. A solid biography, no fluff. There’s almost more history than biography, but perhaps that’s necessary. I certainly need a refresher on the American and French revolutions.

The Principles of Uncertainty, by Maira Kalman. Kalman was on the Colbert Report promoting her newest, And the Pursuit of Happiness, but the library only had this (and a lot of her children’s books). The two adult titles look to be similar. They comprise illustrated ruminations, heavy on the ruminations though there’s paintings and a few photos on nearly every page. Very quick to read and you don’t want a week with it.

Our Tragic Universe, by Scarlett Thomas. I checked this out based on a mini-review in  The New Yorker. I’m a quarter of the way through. She’s good. As the magazine notes, Thomas’s asides about writing and storytelling are about as vital as her parody of a chick-lit plot.

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