I just bought Born to Run (Bruce Springsteen's autobiography) this past weekend, but I haven't started reading it yet. Now I see that there's an audio version read by the author. I'm thinking I might like that instead (or in addition).
What I've been reading lately:
Its been well over 20 years since I read Roger Zelazny's Chronicle of Amber series, and I never owned them. I found the first two: Nine Princes of Amber and Guns of Avalon at a used book store. Still a really fun series. I look to getting the rest later.
I read The Sentry by Robert Crais, who is an author I discovered in the last 3 or so years, and have been devouring his books. This book focuses on Joe Pike who is usually an ancillary player in Crais' novels. Definitely not a happy ending, so I loved it of course.
361 by Donald Westlake is another entry in the Hard Case Crime line. A young man get discharged from the Air Force and his whole life comes crashing down around me. A really good revenge tale. Highly recommended.
I don't know if I mentioned it before, but I read Even This I Get To Experience, which is Norman Lear's autobiography, and it is amazing. From WWII vet, to writer for some of the biggest names in comedy, to the creator of some of the all-time great TV shows, to political and social activist. Just a fantastic read.
I also read Black Rain by Matthew B.J. Delaney which is a near futuristic sci-fi novel. In which all diseases can be cured, and humans have created Synthates who can do all of the jobs we don't want to do any more. One man chooses/is chosen to have the synthates be recognized as human. A very cool novel.
What I'm actually reading now:
Plaster City by Johnny Shaw. I like this simply because it is crime/suspense novel that doesn't take place in NYC or LA. I haven't gotten to far, but it is actually funny. I think humor in prose is the absolutely hardest to pull off. Jimmy Veeder is trying to help a friend find his missing daughter. Not the most original tale, but it is all in the execution, and so far I'm loving that.
Finally, I'm also reading The Snitch by Robert Leuci. I'm okay with this taking place in NYC since the author is ex-NYPD. I'm only 50 pages in, and I'm really excited to know were this is going. All I know is that we have a by the book cop on a collision course with a Cuban national who isn't a bad guy at all, but reported as such by a jilted husband. Seems like a good story so far
Glad to hear 361 is good. I tend to like Hard Case Crime books, and it's one I've considered picking up.
I recently finished Joe Hill's latest novel, The Fireman. It resembles his dad's The Stand in the general concept--an apocalyptic disease that looks like the end of the human race--but it's quite different in execution. Not my favorite of his books, but I recommend it if you have read the others and liked them.
It used to be that, in order to end a book reading dry spell, I'd break the logjam with a quick and easy Star Trek. More recently I've been reading books written by comedians to fulfil the same purpose. I'm currently in te middle of Amy Schumer's The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo (which is not at all what I expected).
After that I read Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology which I found light and highly entertaining.
Now I’m reading Heiress of Collinwood, Lara Parker’s latest “Dark Shadows” novel (her fourth). This book features Victoria Winters, back in the present. I’m only four chapters in at this point, but it’s off to a great start. I would recommend it more to a fan of the series than a casual reader. I’ll likely have something more in depth to say (on the “Dark Shadows” thread) after I’ve finished reading it.
Since I last posted
John Thomas McIntyre Ashton-Kirk, Investigator
-Uninspired early 20th-century murder mystery. Ashton-Kirk is a genius amateur detective. A woman seeks Ashton-Kirk's help after she learns her fiancée has in some way become entangled with a sinister curio dealer. He is then implicated in his murder.
Edgar Wallace The Angel of Terror
-20s thriller. A beautiful young woman and her father plot to murder a young widow.
James Francis Thierry The Adventures of the Eleven Cuff-Buttons
-Early Sherlock Holmes pastiche/parody, fairly accurate but not funny.
Frank L. Packard The Adventures of Jimmie Dale
-WWI-era thriller. Dale is a playboy with a second identity as a super-thief called the Grey Seal. His crimes are altruistic missions he receives from a mysterious woman he comes to know as the Tocsin. The first in a series of books, this one is really a short story collection, but the sequence comes to a climax.
H. Rider Haggard Allan and the Holy Flower
-Allan Quartermain novel. Allan leads an expedition to obtain a living specimen of an orchid which is worshipped by a tribe as a god. The tribe also worships a killer gorilla. Similar to the later The Ivory Child, which I liked more.
Sax Rohmer Bat Wing
-Murder mystery. A Spanish/Cuban man hires Detective Paul Harley to protect his life after a bat is nailed to his door as a death sign. On the night of the full moon he’s shot in his garden. In outline it sounds like my kind of thing, but it didn't have charm for me. But there's a good bit where Colonel Menendez describes his horrific journey through a Cuban swamp.
E. Phillips Oppenheim The Zeppelin’s Passenger
-WWI thriller. A Englishwoman assists a Swedish-German spy to protect and obtain the release of her prisoner-of-war brother. I liked this more than his big hit The Great Impersonation.
William Le Queux The Seven Secrets
-Murder mystery with a wacky, bad solution.
Lady Stanley Miss Pim’s Camouflage
-WWI adventure. An Englishwoman develops the power of invisibility and is sent on a spy/assassination mission into Germany. Historically very interesting. There are depictions of the Kaiser, Hindenburg and Ludendorff.
Murray Leinster Juju
-Jungle adventure story in which a small group of whites is besieged by natives and a killer gorilla.
E. Phillips Oppenheim An Amiable Charlatan
-Humorous story sequence. A well-born Englishman befriends a criminal American and his daughter, and is drawn into his schemes. The best story is easily "Mr. Bundercombe's Wink", in which the narrator runs for parliament. It's from the book's second half, so it gives away its mid-way twist.
Natalie Sumner Lincoln The Red Seal
-Mystery. A man who is being arraigned for burglary dies suddenly. It is discovered he was actually the fiancée of one of the daughters of the house in disguise. The woman and her twin sister pass for each other at the inquest. But why?
Murray Leinster Med Ship Man
-Novella from Leinster's Med Service series. These are my favourite works of his. In this one Calhoun arrives at a planet to conduct a planetary health inspection, and finds the entire population of its only city missing.
P. G. Wodehouse The Swoop!
-Parody of The Battle of Dorking and similar literature. The title refers to the simultaneous invasion of English by nine invaders. Britain is saved by the Boy Scouts, depicted as a secret society. (This is witty, as the organisation was founded to promote physical development in boys out of concern for national defence.)
Alice MacGowan and Perry Newberry The Million-Dollar Suitcase
-Very enjoyable 20s mystery, a hit at the time. A bank is robbed by a cashier, who subsequently vanished from his apartment. The story is told by the private detective whose agency is retained by the bank. A young man who is the son of one of the bank’s stockholders offers to replace the missing capital in exchange for ownership of the missing money. He enlists the help of a young woman from his home town who has great powers of observation, memory and deduction. That night the young man’s father appears to commit suicide, but it quickly becomes apparent he was really murdered. Part of the story takes place in a small town. I thought it was possibly an influence on the Ellery Queen Wrightsville novels.
Richard Marsh The Joss: A Reversion
-A shopgirl inherits a house and income from her uncle, who reportedly died abroad. But the will and report of his death have oddities, and the will has strange conditions. After she takes possession of the house a final message from her uncle informs her she is now subject to a curse. The book's first half reminded me of The Beetle. In its second half the novel goes in a different direction. It has an element of humour the other book lacks.
and also short stories, including collections by Edgar Wallace.
Also some plays. In The Thirteenth Chair by Bayard Veiller a murder is committed during a seance. The medium has to solve the crime to save her daughter. The play was apparently a success in its day, but it's not very good. Tod Browning directed a 1929 movie version in which Bela Lugosi plays the inspector. It's stagily directed, like the later Dracula (also based on a stage play). Regen by Arthur Schnitzler is an Austrian play from the late 19th century, the basis of the film La Ronde. The play's structure is clever but I thought the encounters too samey.
Bakemonogatari: Monster Tale Part 01, by Nisioisin
Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. It's a really old-school hard sci-fi tale, about the disintegration of the moon and the attempt to preserve humanity in an orbital habitat. Lots of detailed discussions of orbital mechanics.
Starting now and continuing for several weeks, my “What Comic Books Have You Read Today?” and my “Movies I Have Seen Lately” and my “So, What Are You Reading These Days (besides comics?” posts will begin to overlap somewhat.
KING KONG (1933): I just finished reading the novelization of the screen play of the original movie by Delos W. Lovelace. You may have thought Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper wrote it, but the novelizarion itself was actually penned by Lovelace. Due to a variety of legal, publicity and other concerns, the first edition was published with the wordy byline “conceived by Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper, screenplay by James A. Creelman and Ruth Rose, novelized from the adio Picture by Delos W. Lovelace.”
The plot follows the movie quite closely, as you might expect. The main differences are that the ship is the Wanderer in the novelization (not the Venture), and the character called “Lumpy” become Charlie the Chinese cook on screen. I have three reasons for reading the novel.
1. I’m getting myself in the mood to see the new theatrical release.
2. I’m getting a feel for the prose to compare it to the upcoming Tarzan vs. King Kong novel (April 26).
3. I want to see where the new story fits (between chapters 17 and 18).
NEXT WEEK: I will cover Donald Simpson’s comic book adaptation.
I just found and read a (first edition) of Stephen Gilbert's Ratman's Notebooks, the inspiration for Willard. It's actually pretty good, though it goes a little too far in the final third (which is where the movie makes the greatest changes). I like the idea that the rats he finds are some kind of new/undiscovered super-intelligent breed.
I've starting Eleanor Rigby, Douglas Coupland's 2004 novel.
The library informs me my turn has arrived for Elan Mastai's satiric SF novel All Our Wrong Todays, so I'll get to that late next week. A time traveler from the Jetsonesque twenty-first century screws up the timeline, and returns to a dystopian world-- the 2017 we're actually living in!
Jeff of Earth-J said:
NEXT WEEK: I will cover Donald Simpson’s comic book adaptation.
I've been looking for a readable version of the Glen Cravath King Kong promotional strip. The best version I've been able to find is here in Google Book's version of Ulrich Merkl's Dinomania.
The other materials in the book are also of interest. They include stills from a WWI Australian cartoon that can be seen here. Its imagery was partly derived from this poster. Compare this American one.