Thursday, May 20, 2010

Stacked ... Everywhere

I am once again in the position of having many books, partially read, stacked all over the house. However, the great thing about these books is that all of them can be picked up and enjoyed no matter what.

Trouble is My Business by Raymond Chandler
Having suffered through City of Dragons, I realized I'd never really read any of the prototypical genre she was attempting to emulate. My random selections of Raymond Chandler from the library yielded a book of short stories and a novel. Beginning with this book of short stories, I discovered that Chandler is an author I am enjoying. These pithy stories are exactly what you would expect from the creator of Philip Marlowe, except that they show the quintessential hard-boiled detective from a developmental stage through many different stories. The last four stories, so I'm told from the book blurb, have Philip Marlowe in them, though I am not sure how he differs from the 'tecs I've read about thus far (except in name). Great fun.

Nightmare Town by Dashiell Hammett
Yep. I couldn't just try Chandler without also sampling the other great master of hard-boiled mystery fiction, Dashiell Hammett. Again, my random library selections yielded a novel and this short story selection. It also has an interesting overview of Hammett's life in the introduction. These stories contain hard boiled detectives but also, surprisingly, twist ending stories from different points of view as well. Hammett is a more varied writer than Chandler and I am always amused whenever the main detective describes himself as short and stout (which seems to happen frequently). About halfway through and thoroughly enjoying this intro to Hammett.

Assam and Darjeeling by T.M. Camp
If there is any justice in this world, then this book will become a classic. I was enchanted by it when listening to T.M. Camp's audio version on iTunes (want a sample? go listen.)

Taking up the published version (it is on Kindle also but the actual book is high quality ... Tom was very impressed) I was afraid that the story wouldn't hold up to what I remembered. I need not have feared. The printed version is superior, in fact, because the eye can linger over the beautifully written phrases, which add a depth that the ear doesn't convey in quite the same way. I am uncharacteristically reading this slowly for the pure pleasure of it. (Also, I must say that I am reading a copy bearing the author's inscription, though that in no way is influencing my commentary. I have always been a fangirl of this book.)

A masterful and nuanced book, Assam & Darjeeling is the story of a quest straight into legendary, mythological landscape. Two children’s efforts to save their mother serves as a lens through which we see pure love, redemption, and sacrifice. (For my complete review, go to SFFaudio. Highest recommendation.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
Rose has been after me to read this for some time. But it took SFFaudio mentioning a read-along of The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester ... then they said it was based on The Count of Monte Cristo and I knew, with a sense of doom, that my time had come.

I am listening to the LibriVox free audio book. I have gotten to about chapter 35 (out of 117 ... oy!) but so far I am enjoying it. Though that villain Villefort! Oh, I want to give him such a slap! And I could have done without that exceedingly long history of the shepherd/bandit, although Dumas certainly threw his heart into the telling of it. Sadly, there is one reader who did quite a few chapters which are agony for me to try to follow as her foreign accent mushes everything together to the point where listening is a chore. So I am alternately listening and filling in by reading, which has been quite a few chapters thus far.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
A lovely surprise given by my friend Meg. Major Pettigrew is living a quiet life in the village of Edgecombe St. Mary when the news that his brother has suddenly died comes and sends him into a (very quiet) tailspin. It sparks a sudden friendship with Mrs. Ali who has also lost her husband. Both are struggling quietly with relatives who selfishly want to force them to behave differently.

I'm only on chapter 4 but am struck with the simultaneous feelings of wanting to gulp it down at once and also savor it slowly. So far it is truly a gem.


  1. The Count of Monte Cristo is amazing! I could not put it down.

    Other 2:00 a.m. books: Lonesome Dove.

    Wait. That's the only one I can think of right now.

    wv: blessect

  2. I have had several people recommend Lonesome Dove. For some reason I have resisted, which, according to how things have worked in the past, means it will be my new favorite book as soon as I begin reading it. Ok, it's going on my list. :-)

  3. I *love* the Count of Monte Cristo! Such a wonderful epic. (I also love the 1978 (?) version with Richard Chamberlain as Edmund Dantes and Tony Curtis as Mondego.)

  4. Interesting take on Major Pettigrew from you...

    The reviews I read elsewhere rather turned me off. I am not sure why but the reviews I read of Major Pettigrew reminded me of "The English Patient"... which I hated...

  5. I hated "The English Patient," both the book and the movie. I hated that a pair of adulterers were treated so sympathetically. I despised them both.

  6. Julie, I got the Lonesome Dove DVDs a few years ago. My husband rolled his eyes and said he didn't want to watch a stupid western. I asked him to watch the first episode with me and said that after that, he wouldn't have to watch any more, I would watch alone.

    We watched #1 and spent the entire weekend watching the rest.

    I love being right.

  7. The English Patient ... I was dragged to the movie by a sister-in-law. Like Elaine from Seinfeld, I was the only dry-eyed person in the movie. My one bright spot was whenever Sayid (Lost name) would show up. That glorious hunk of man was not enough to redeem the movie however. Of course, I never read the book.

    The thing I am finding about Major Pettigrew is that what Steven Riddle said about no one being perfect is very true. Major Pettigrew has an interesting flaw that at first annoyed me and now has become a point where I am rooting for him to "get it" and change his attitude. Because it would be lovely to see him move toward being a better person. Only Mrs. Ali hasn't shown a weakness that I can see. However, I am on chapter 6 or 7 so there is plenty of time.

    Lonesome Dove ... I am sure you will be right about it for me too. So much satisfaction to look forward to, CF! :-D

  8. Okay. You convinced me for Major Pettigrew. My local library has it. As well as Lonesome Dove.

    I have not read Lonesome Dove becasue I did not like the TV mini series. I realize the translations to the little screen don't always work out too well. Although, I did like both the TV version and the novel of The Thornbirds *blush*

  9. Julie, are you talking about the Indian guy with the long hair? He is actually the central character in the novel. The book and the movie are nothing alike. I didn't care for the book because I don't like the writer's style, but yeah - that Indian guy. Hubba hubba.

  10. Man, I wish books would flodd into my house at a rate that would force me to stack them up everywhere ;-)

    As it is, now I'll have to update my Amazon wish list and keep saving up the loose change for my run the the change machine in the grocery store that magically transforms coins in to Amazon gift cards...

    Hmmm, Count of Monte Cristo, 1978...I seem to remember being home from high school with chicken pox and watching that as a made for TV maybe my memory is hazy...

  11. Oh yes, that guy with the long hair. :-)

    The only movie I have seen of The Count of Monte Cristo is the most recent one with Jim Caviezel (hubba hubba) and Guy Pierce (who for his most hubba hubba-ish looks one must watch Memento). As I read the book so far I can see where they necessarily condensed the plotlines in order to squish it into a movie. I am only on chapter 35 so we will see how it goes along.

  12. Julie, your reaction to the movie of The English Patient was exactly the same as mine! They should have given Naveen Andrews all the screen time, and maybe then it would have been worth watching.

    He was my favorite Lost character as well, though maybe I was just remembering his luscious hair from TEP.

    Have you ever seen Bride and Prejudice? It's a Bollywood version of Pride and Prejudice, and Naveen Andrews plays the Mr. Bingley role. And sings and dances too!

  13. I have seen it ... light and enjoyable ... AND Naveen Andrews for the eye candy. I will never forget the younger daughter's snake dance. It lives on in my memory, inciting laughter every time. Loved it! :-)

  14. Tante Leonie5/23/10, 6:35 AM

    And who can forget Poor Mr. Kohli ("no life without wife")!

  15. When I was a young teen, Montecristo was my favourite book. I planned to name one of my 12 children "Valentine" after that heroine of the book.