Sunday, October 23, 2005

Sorry

It's been ages since I posted.

Busy life schedule has intervened with my writing/reading schedule. Although, that is only partly true, since I am about to finish my fourth book since I last posted.

I'll be back......

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Teeth of the Tiger by Tom Clancy

Yes! I admit it! I'm a Tom Clancy fan. I have been since I was a teenager. Is that soooo baaaaaad?

But, seriously, though. I'm a foreign policy/politics fanatic who enjoys James Bond and big explosions, so Clancy has always been a draw. While he comes from a stance to the right of center (and I definitely do not), his books are still very reasonable, articulate, and exceedingly detailed. While many have criticized his prose, I actually enjoy it. Some of his best books (Clear and Present Danger, Patriot Games) artfully manage numerous sublpots, and then magically draw them together for a big climax.

Now, on to his latest. It was clear from Clancy's last few books that he took his Jack Ryan character as far as it could go - to the Presidency during a time of world war. Where to go next? His SON of course.

"Teeth" stars Jack Ryan, Jr. and two of his young cousins as they become part of a secret intelligence unit set up by Jack Ryan, Sr. before leaving office. The unit is completely "off-the-books" and begins carrying out assassinations in response to a terrorist attack on U.S. soil. I won't give away any more in case you decide to read it.

Overall, the book is a good read - better than "Red Rabbit" which I felt came up short. However, I kept getting the feeling that Clancy was less interested in establishing a new character or in creating a masterpiece, than in showing the current Administration how an effective War on Terrorism should be fought.

You see, the title of the book comes from a phrase: "if you kick a tiger in the ass, you better have a plan for dealing with it's teeth." And that pretty much sums up the point of the novel, and Clancy's own view towards the Bush administration's attempt to deal with the threat of international terrorism: we kicked the tiger in the teeth with our attacks against Afghanistan and Iraq and had no plan for dealing what would come next.

Clancy clearly favors a clandestine approach, identifying and eliminating terrorist targets - and nobody, not even most of the government or fellow terrorists, knowing it happened. It's an old spy story: bad guy is made to look like he had a heart attack. This has the advantages of not stirring up additional anti-U.S. fervor, keeps terrorists off-guard, and keeps the general public from having to live with the daily fear of terrorism.

Clancy picks apart the current approach of the War on Terror with criticisms disguised as dialogue. This is an excellent read, if not just for the story alone. It will get you to think about what we are doing wrong in today's foreign policy, and how we might do it right. Whether or not you agree with the Clancy Solution, you will certainly be forced to think about it.

***

Friday, September 09, 2005

David Sedaris

Maybe I am funk. Maybe I need to molt like a lobster. Either way I have given up on Dress Your Family in corduroy and Denim. Which is odd. Powells.com simply says its Sedaris' best book.

The beginning of the end was when I saw him live a couple of years ago. Seeing him live was the pinnacle of my Sedaris experience. The affair began when I heard his nasal voice on NPR. Then I discovered Naked and Me Talk Pretty One Day. I was not alone. It turns out many of my friends liked him as well.

I missed him on his last book tour, promoting his new book, but I did catch him when he was promoting Me Talk Pretty One Day. He was great. His stories got that little something extra from his voice.

Then, the love affair was over. I have read a few of the stories in Dress Your Family, but they are just are not doing it for me.

However, if you have not heard/read him, I highly recommend him.

The Secret Life of Lobsters -- Trevor Corson

I used to love lobster. That was after I hated it. Now I am pretty indifferent.

When I was 6 my parents took me to Maine. I don't remember much about the trip. I have some vague memory of being in a rowboat with a leak. But I am no longer sure how much I actually remember, and how much I "remember" from talking about the leaky rowboat. The leaky rowboat is not all that important. What is important is on that trip I refused to eat lobster. I am sure now, especially in light of my parents return to Maine many years later, that whole point of the vacation was to eat Lobster every day. Oops. How was I to know?

Somewhere between 6 and puberty I grew to enjoy Lobster as much as my parents did. We ate frequently, or as frequently as we could considered my mother would not cook it in our house, or serve it on our dishes if we brought it home (it's not kosher). But we overcame these obstacles and ordered it at restaurants. Or even brought it home and ate it cantonese style from a Chinese restaurant on paper plates and with plastic utensils.

As I got older, into my 20s and 30s Lobster just became like Shrimp. It was everywhere. And maybe the abundance lessened some special quality I believed it once had. Now that I could have it pretty much anytime I wanted, I no longer wanted it anymore.

The Secret Life of Lobsters is all most of us will ever need to know about Lobster lifecycles, mating, and lobstermen (women). It was just enough story matched with just enough science to be fun without getting tedious. It sated my appetite for knowledge about lobsters and now I feel like I can move on to something else. If you have ever eaten lobster, or wanted to, you should read this book.

Mission Accomplished -- Book 52



I started the year with the goal of finishing 52 books in one year. I have reached my goal. This goal was directly copied from SZG. I have been brief with many of my descriptions of the books but that is because they are pretty similar in nature to each other.

Reading... for the past few books has been a bit disappointing and I have not been wow'ed by anyone. My 52nd book was no exception.

Faye Kellerman is a good writer and she went off her beaten path to write a historical fiction novel entitled Straight Into Darkness. THe book drags longer than a man with a club foot lost in the desert. It makes no sense at times and drives the reader batty as Faye obviously has a politically correct agenda.

This could be my interest in history as I have a Bachelor's degree in it. I find that when folks write about history in the 90's and the 2000's they revise it to put it into the context of today. To me, that is dangerous as history is a product of its time. We can learn our lessons from it and recognize that people in the past were bad, but there is no need to revise the way we view it because societal norms have changed.

Straight into Darkness falls victim to that and it frustrated me beyond comprehension.


Book Description
In 1920s Munich, the body of Anna Gross, a young society wife, has been found in the English Gardens, still clothed in finery. Soon a second body is discovered, also a woman of high society. When a third body is found, homicide detective Axel Berg realizes he’s dealing with unprecedented evil. Is the murderer politically motivated? Is he a lone madman? Or worse, is the killer possessed by both political and personal demons? Detective Berg soon finds himself entangled in a web of dangerous intrigue, surrounded by potential enemies. As Munich slips further into turmoil, overrun by political factions and the rise of Hitler, a dedicated policeman can never know who to trust--and one simple mistake could be deadly.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Book 51 -- Lifeguard by James Patterson


Lifeguard is James Patterson's 89th book of the year.

It is his best book of the year and I was able to finish it in two days... I cannot believe how proficient I feel when I finish a 400 page book in two days.

This books suffers less from the syndrome that james Patterson suffers from.

Get my minimal amount of pages in and then...end the book.

The ending is actually developed.

I love reading UNIMPORTANT books.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Book 50 -- Phillip Margolin's Lost Lake



Ho hum....

It's done... Time to read James Patterson's summer book.

I think he has a book for every season.

Lifeguard.

Oh wait... I already read Lost Lake...

It wasn't bad... It wasn't great either... It served its purpose.

At least it featured Portland.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Book 49 -- Sleeping Beauty by Phillip Margolin



Book 49 -- Sleeping Beauty by Phillip Margolin

Ever read a book and feel as though... "Been there.... done that?"

That's how I felt about this book.

I am now reading his last book Lost Lake and I can already tell you (being 25% done with it) that it is a better book.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

How Soccer Explains The World -- Franklin Foer

Soccer does not explain the world. Neither does this book. But, that’s just marketing anyway. The real purpose of the book is hidden the prologue, “Someone needed to write a book on the subject that would require the (oh-so-arduous) task of traveling the world…”

The success of this book is as a travelogue. Foer travels the globe and we get to tag along.

It is written like a series of magazine articles, rather than as a cohesive book, making it really good beach reading.