Sunday, April 26, 2009
John Evangelist Walsh: The Hidden Life of Emily Dickinson (1971). Dickinson as plagiarist. Silly; what Walsh considers stealing, few others would. Does convince that Emily avidly read a lot of long, dreary Elizabeth Barrett Browning poetry, like the 350 page poem Aurora, quite a hit in her day. Stick with the sonnets.
Dana Milbank: Homo Politicus (2008)
Roxanne Orgill: Dream Lucky (2008) Count Basie in 1930's. Anecdotal. Short & sweet. Like Basie Band 78's.
Sarah Vowell: The Wordy Shipmates (2008). Puritans. Contemporary writer I'd most like to find sitting alone at an adjacent table in Elmora Dunkin' Donuts.
Cynthis Stokes Brown: Big History (2008). Teaching human history by starting at the scientific beginning - the Big Bang. Good idea.
Donald Clarke: All or Nothing At All, a Life of Frank Sinatra (1997). Too much in too few pages. Not enough music or scandalous detail.
John Adams: Hallelujah Junction, Composing an American Life (2008). Entertaining, particularly his childhood. Made me want to hear his music, which has rarely thrilled me. After reading it, I again tried listening to Adams' opera, The Death of Klinghoffer, & it was still unlistenable.
Michael Connelly: Brass Verdict (2008). Second book about lawyer who works out of his Lincoln, chauffeured by a client playing off a bill. Connelly writes terrific prose.
Laura Lippman: Butcher's Hill (1998). Third of Tess Monaghan series, set in Baltimore, & the first P.I. series I've read in sequence. Excellent pacing between personal life & detective work, & this P.I. clearly needs clients to keep up with her bills, & likes her junk food, a character reminiscent of Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone.
Val McDermid: Clean Break (1995). Manchester P.I. Kate Brannigan. Good way to learn British vocabulary. Kate's longtime boyfriend is an aging provincial pothead rock critic & they both survive on Chinese takeout.
Robert Crais: Chasing Darkness (2008). L.A. P.I. Elvis Cole & friend Joe Pike seem at first like west coast versions of Robert Parker's Spenser & Hawk, the investigator & his mysterious killer friend. But Cole is more appreciative of scenery (as California detectives usually are), & unlike Spenser doesn't need to surround himself with a posse of loyal, homoerotic sociopaths. More verbosely philosophical, too. & Pike has enough backstory to get his own series. Cole & Pike exist in the same fictional universe as Connelly's lawyer.
Tim Dorsey: Nuclear Jellyfish (2009). Likable homicidal maniac & historian of Old Florida, Serge A. Storms, & his sidekick, doper "Coleman." Enjoyable, but the series has jumped the shark.
Labels: what I'm reading