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Showing posts from July, 2012

Books of Note

Universal Harvester by John Darnielle

Not surprisingly, like a lot of John Darnielle’s music, particularly those songs on the album The Sunset Tree (Pale Green Things springs to mind and is very much worth listening to), his writing only slowly reveals itself and its narrative direction. Not in any turgid or tedious fashion, but rather in an unhurried, gentler and more thoughtful way. Universal Harvester rolls gently along its path with only a few disconcerting and probably deliberate hiccups. It starts in Iowa in the 1990s with a young man, still living at home with his father but unable to leave because of the weight of his mother’s death, years before, in a car crash. The trauma tethers Jeremy and his father together like the gravitational pull of a dead star in a comfortable and predictable but numb orbit, but it’s never something that either of them can discuss openly.
Jeremy works at a VHS rental store, so we’re assuredly early-Worldwide Web era. His job is simple, repetitive, and keeps him and his father in entertai…

The Stainless Steel Rat Omnibus by Harry Harrison

I don't really know what it is that draws me, apparently by chance but I suspect more by dint of character imbalance (mine) to books that I hope I will like, enjoy reading to a greater or lesser degree, depending on a variety of factors, not least being current mood, but then can't help but find flaws therein which, annoyingly for me as I'm quite keen on the romantic ideals of right or wrong, good or bad, still doesn't put me right off finishing and buying the next novel in the series. What's more frustrating for good old "Black'n'White" GBD is that this particular book, one I fished from a faulty returns crate  destined for the big book bin in the sky (actually Little, Brown publisher's incinerator) has a whole three chapters missing from the second installation of the tale of... damn. I can't remember the character's name. That is not a good sign. Still, as previously mentioned, it didn't stop me from gamely pushing on, reconstru…