Sign In

What are you reading? — Page 46

Author
Time

Farmer, Philip Jose - The Evil In Pemberley House

What a pile of poo. At least mercifully brief at 200 pages.
American girl - distant relative of Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam D’arcy - inherits famed country manor.
The house apparently has a ghost who haunts the master/mistress three midnights every year.
Other relatives in the family tree include Lord Greystoke (AKA: the Jungle Lord), as well as the Duke of Holdernesse, so Holmes is involved - or at least his notes are consulted. Oh, and the family doctor is Dr Augustus Moran, grandson of Colonel Sebastian Moran.
Far be it from me to omit, this is also a bodice ripper, and there are several passages of stripping, whipping and squeezing.
This read like very bad fan fiction to me, yet I must confess, other readers adored it.
The mystery aspect was poorly developed.

Author
Time

Ubik (Philip K. Dick)

Didn’t care much for the first half. A solid chunk of the satire rings true, but Dick’s distant future of 1992 is too gaudy to take seriously; it serves only as a noisome distraction, taking me out of the story. But by the halfway point, once we enter into the mindfuckery, the narrative gets engrossing. Overall, it’s the second least impressive PKD novel I’ve read.

★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Divergent Universes
Dreams of a Randy Git-Fiend
32833-3825478+4665-32WG=6652766

Author
Time

Crisp, Quentin S - Graves

An obsession with death. Death and afterwards.
After decay and putrefaction, is there a metamorphosis, a transfiguration? Does the soul endure? And what is the soul? A construct of memory?
Damien dwells on these matters, along with similar depths.
He becomes a nurse, working at the crossroads of existence and expiration. He bears the cross of intelligence, often more a burden than a blessing.
Unlike the majority, his overwhelming curiosity compels him to activity.
This is a novel rich in thought, vivid with details. Not a page turner, either, as many passages demand reflection and contemplation.
I will likely read this again, as I suspect multiple readings will be rewarding.

Author
Time

Hodgson, Barbara - Opium: A Portrait Of The Heavenly Demon

Richly illustrated, glossy book on smoking poppies.
Lots of pages wandering notorious “Chinatowns,” the cultivation and trade of opium, not to mention tons of ink scribbled by authors. Hopeless addicts and annoying do-gooders.
Also poets, painters, thrill seekers, the lost set.
Lurid paperback covers grace several pages.
For me, the best were terrific vintage adverts.
Yer kid giving you trouble? Give 'em candy laced with narcotics!

Author
Time

I’m about a 3rd of the way into Stephen Kings’ Dark Tower- Book 2: Gathering of the Three.
It had been over a year since I finished book one, which was much smaller. More a novella. I liked it very much, but obviously not enough to dive right into the next one.
This one though… Amazing! Fantastic! Wonderful! Can’t put it down!

Ray’s Lounge
Biggs in ANH edit idea
ROTJ opening edit idea

Author
Time

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

So shines a good deed in a weary world.

Author
Time
 (Edited)

Lee, Edward - Brides Of The Impaler

Ha ha ha. So, I grabbed a title off my shelves at random.
I rarely do that. Last time I did that, I selected Eddie Lee’s Witch Water.
That turned out to be his attempt to emulate M. R. James, borrowing heavily from “The View From A Hill,” packing it with sexual escapades. Mr. Lee’s pastiche was, my goodness, regrettable.
Anyway, Brides Of The Impaler.
Straight off, in the intro, Lee credits favorite influences, such as film directors, Jess Franco and Jean Rollin. Once the novel gets going, we meet a lawyer named Jess, and a priest, John Rollin.
Hard-nosed attorney fleeces the Catholic diocese of adjoining property.
He and his voluptuous girlfriend, who makes trendy Goth-ish dolls, move in and spawn like crazy.
Add a quartet of trashy homeless women who worship Romanian accented nun.
Add a detective who investigates a grisly series of impalements.
Did I mention sex? Multiple configurations? Well imagine more! Mr Lee did.
Yes, back in the day, I had purchased several Lee titles, for when I had time in the world to read.
Like now. What a muffin. Ha ha ha.

Author
Time

Michael Crichton. Pirate latitudes. I am pleased to read. Not that the “Captain Blood Odyssey” or the pirates of the Caribbean, is so less romantic, but in about the same places and times, Jamaica, corsairs, the unspoken war at sea between Spain and England …

https://gothicy.com/

Author
Time

Matovina, Dan - Without You: The Tragic Story Of Badfinger

Extremely depressing book about a legendary group.
Their manager arranged the contract so he was a member, entitled to an equal share of revenue.
Their US business manager, royally fleeced all earning from recordings and touring.
(One of the girlfriends became the template for the blonde girlfriend in Spinal Tap.)
Songwriters Pete Ham and Tom Evans were ignorant they were due royalties for “Without You” which became a well covered standard.
Apple deleted their entire catalogue after tiring of threats and bullying from the business manager.
Warners deleted “Wish You Were Here” after seven weeks due to the manager threatening lawsuits.
“Head First” was similarly halted before it even came out.
In despair, Ham committed suicide by hanging.
Eight years later, Evans committed suicide by hanging.
It’s a long way to the top, and for Badfinger, it was ugly and painful, up and down.
Brilliantly written, hundreds of photos, CD of unreleased material.

Author
Time

I reread Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and it felt like it went by too fast.

Author
Time
 (Edited)

Watt, D. P. - Terroir

Cecilia, early 20’s, wondering what to do with her life, hires on to work the grape harvest at Château Fontaine.
She catches the eye of Marcel, oldest son and heir apparent.
Mutual attraction and hormone driven activity belie a fleeting undercurrent.
Cecilia’s intuition senses a mystery behind the smile, charm, and grace of Marcel, and indeed, of his whole family.
Questions are evaded or glossed over, as are worries.
And slowly, you, like Cecilia, are eased into story that pulls you down like quicksand.
There was a point in this when I sensed a trope, and really worried Mr. Watt might go that route.
For me, at least, he did not, and I enjoyed this immensely.

Vendange
There is a long passage on the vendange, or grape harvest, and it was bang on.
Several years ago, I participated in a preliminary harvest in Sonoma County.
Ostensibly, this was to check how close the Chardonnay was to maturity.
The bulk of the “pickers” were the affluent and well heeled of Marin and San Francisco.
We picked for a couple hours, finished, enjoyed a sumptuous outdoor lunch. (also in Terroir, and also accurate)
Around us were preexisting case buying regulars, or invitees from a select list.
And no, my wife and I were guests of a “regular,” and there was no repeat invite.

(Note: As soon after I finished reading Terroir, I rewatched Vagabond, along with Éric Rohmer’s Conte d’automne. Diverse views of the wine region.)

Author
Time

I assume many of you here have read Frank Herbert’s Dune books, so I’d like to know: Are they worth reading?
It is my understanding that the Dune saga, particularly the first book, influenced Star Wars, among others of course (Flash Gordon, etc), the biggest difference being that while SW is morally very black and white, Dune is filled with moral complexity. I’ve also read that the first first book is arguably the only feel-good one, with the following books deconstructing the Messiah image built up around Paul, and the story growing progressively more cynical with each passing book. The only reason I’m a bit hesitant because I know Frank Herbert died before wrapping up the saga and his son and some other writer wrote the latter books based on notes left by Frank, and that kinda turns me away.

The reason I’m asking is because I want a space opera akin to Star Wars with more adult themes, and according to movie director Denis Villeneuve that’s exactly what Dune is, Star Wars for adults, which is why my interest is piqued.

Author
Time
 (Edited)

Definitely read Dune. If you like it enough, go ahead and read Dune Messiah; it’s not as good as its predecessor, but still serves as a solid coda.

As for the remaining books … I can’t say whether or not they’re worth reading, but Children & God Emperor of Dune weren’t my personal cup of tea. I found Children rather meh, and I got roughly halfway through God Emperor before the cynicism exhausted me.

Divergent Universes
Dreams of a Randy Git-Fiend
32833-3825478+4665-32WG=6652766

Author
Time
 (Edited)

McCammon, Robert - The Night Boat

Zzzzzzzz . . . . . .
Scuba diver in small Caribbean island accidentally releases Nazi sub stuck in a sand bar.
Superstitious islanders want that U-boat removed or sunk as soon as possible.
So, of course, the sub gets towed to the local salvage warehouse.
Sooner than you can sing the Horst-Wessel song, Nazi zombies emerge, seeking unhappy snacks.
Shock Waves, a 1977 film with Peter Cushing, seemed the inspiration for this silly saga.
Said flick finished in 90 minutes.
Sadly this took longer to slog through.
Slow going, stereotyped characters, shallow-pool plot.
Sleep, Nazi zombie, go sleep now.
Zzzzzzzz . . . . . . .

Author
Time

Brantley, Avalon - Aornos

Orpheus myth in the character of Alektor, pining for his bygone beloved, Philomena.
Though barely a slip of a tale, the word choice, as expected, is superb.
Dionysus, who acts as chorus and our guide, has the juiciest lines.
Alektor himself comes across as impulsive, over-earnest, and a bit dim.
The narrative unfolds, and there are turns which I guessed and I imagine you will, too.
Aornos is brief and I read it twice, each time going through it as if it were a play on the stage.
The first telling, I let the characters act as if they were from a Kenneth Branagh enactment.
Next, I went for dell’arte melodrama, characters declaring and projecting, over the top at times (think “Horse Latitudes” by The Doors.)
Neither way was especially gripping. To be honest, the whole thing feels like an academic exercise.
For those curious about this author, Aornos might not be the best entry point.

Author
Time

Bukowski, Charles - South Of No North

Stories culled from the Los Angeles Free Press and Doug Blazek’s “Ole.”
The narrator recollects growing up poor, living rough. Childhood, poignant, bleak, overlaid with an adult wonder of how everyone survived.
Companions drift in and out, fellow discards, clutching bent pipedreams.
Women stroll into the Life’s bar, give, take. When the gauge hits empty, they hit the breeze.
The sex stories are pretty funny. Sex itself can be funny, unless you’re one of those types who view the mortal coil oh so seriously.
Chinaski visits the doctor for various ailments. The doc, an ex-Nazi, treats him, yet wails about his own problems.
Chinaski sees a fellow starving poet. Only this guy is about climb out of the ditch. This story seems eerily prophetic.
Two honchos of a roller derby league take an over-eager achiever to task.
(The roller derby awakened an old memory. Years ago, for four months, in a period of sheer lunacy, I dated a jammer. That didn’t go so well.)
Sour luck, bad choices, narrow chances, liars, drunks, the crooked game.
These are timeless stories, always timeless.
Don’t believe it? Go on, be pleased with yourself. It won’t last. It never does.
Then, when you’re staring at your empty hands, these essays will resonate.

Author
Time
 (Edited)

Levy, Shawn - Ready, Steady, Go!

Swinging London and the Invention of Cool.
The rise, exhilarating peak, and demise of Swinging London, circa 1960 - 68
To be frank, however, the blazing time you want to visit in your Tardis is 1962 - 66.
Music, movies, fashion, photography, art galleries are key areas.
I was fairly steeped in music of the British Invasion, cinema I had caught up with later.
Fashion, not really, though my wife is very knowledgeable.
That’s the thing, you roll from sphere to sphere, in fairly chronological time.
Levy does a great job focusing on key movers and shakers. Illuminated, sometimes dissected.
This is a period fondly recalled, though few, extremely few, swirled in the hot nucleus.
Meritocracy and class distinctions meant 99%, as now, never had admittance.
Addictive history with a surprising amount of blunt interviews. Little glossing over.
Smashing.

Easy Beat
Pop Goes Beat

Author
Time
 (Edited)

Phillips, Thomas - In This Glass House

The construction of this Zagava book itself is, in itself, highly unusual.
Pages darkening from white to black as the story progresses.
And yes, the story of a stain that corrupts and taints grows bleak.
Parts of this seem eerily prescient, even though nations across the globe have been electing / installing “strong men” to solve their problems.
Should provide unsettled thoughts during these uncertain times.

Author
Time

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets sets up the Horcrux plot, and is too similar to Sorcerer’s Stone. Prisoner of Azkaban is where the series becomes a classic for me.

Author
Time
 (Edited)

Kiernan, Caitlin - Houses Under The Sea

Fat anthology of mostly Lovecraft inspired or derived stories.
A found curio and odd encounter near a shipwreck off Scotland, spurs a geologist to write a letter to one Dr. Watson. Yes! That Dr. Watson.
In “Pickman’s Other Model,” an elusive silent film actress leaves a wake of scandal and blasphemy.
The chance finding of a prehistoric fossil sends a researcher off to the ghost town of Innsmouth.
In the title story, a mass suicide by drowning captures media attention. Briefly. Afterward, a free lance reporter digs into a sketchy history and clues that are invisible because they are conspicuous.
Unfortunately, this collection has, to my mind, some padding in the form of the Providence underworld. The supernatural underbelly of decadent vampires, abducted changelings, short tempered ghouls. These have nothing to do with HPL or the mythos. This is Southern Gothic (reference the Dancy Flammarion yarns) shoe-horned into Rhode Island. Yes, there are fans of these, but I am not part of their numbers. For me, they are akin to Fantasy Island. If you are of similar bent, these disappear midway in the collection.
More satisfaction is found in a quartet of Dandridge stories, set in the creaking house, battered by the sea. The gatekeeper, trapped between worlds, is mangled beyond recognition.
A personal favorite, “The Cats Of River Street,” set in Innsmouth, 1925. Several homes are observed, each with cats, from household members to squatters.
Cats, with whom I have shared my life with for 40+ years, can be friendly, opinionated, indifferent, yet all are highly territorial. As in this grim ode to felines, where the cats hold the line.

Author
Time
 (Edited)

Camus, Albert - The Plague

I first encountered this, a lifetime earlier, in college FLIT (Foreign Literature In Translation).
The book was not what I was expecting, me being 19-20 and simply reading the title of PLAGUE!!!
The novel stayed with me, though, to the point that I bought a used Modern Library edition and added it to the stacks.
I next read this in the 80’s, as AIDS spilled out from the margins, and looked to sweep like a scythe through humanity.
In the book, after the eruption of rats, key characters wither to their essence.
The resigned, the valiant, the selfish, the industrious, fighting an implacable foe, a microscopic adversary that seems to posses a cunning intelligence.
Weeks ago, I started rereading this again, as the pace of the current panic escalated.
I read slowly, half hoping by the time I finished some sort of remedy or control might be at hand.
The fool and his delusions.

Author
Time
 (Edited)

Summers, Montague - Six Ghost Stories

My, what a delicious, if sadly brief, collection of treats.
In “The House Agent,” an impulsive, headstrong woman pressures her husband to do-do-do lease the long-empty country house. No matter that is has an unsavory reputation with villagers. She refuses to listen, won’t hear a word of it!
Summers must have possessed incredible hearing, as well as an organized memory. “The Governess,” a poor soul in service to a flighty, scattered gentry, is brought to life by an aristocratic dame.
“A Toy Theatre” and “Romeo And Juliet” are wicked forays into the uglier sides of theatre boards.
Let us not overlook the book collector, and his purchase of a possibly genuine / possibly fake rare grimore.
(Word to the wise. When translating Latin, do not do so aloud.)
These are all Jamesian tales, seasoned with naughty humor, similar to Reggie Oliver.

Author
Time

I’m currently reading The End of Science by John Horgan, a 1996 book about the many obstacles modern science is facing. Really fascinating stuff.