Thursday, January 29, 2015

NIGHT FILM by Marisha Pessl

January Selection Contemporary Book Club

Finished Mo 1/26/15; the meeting was 6pm, Wednesday, the 28th.

I loved the book and almost all of the club loved it as well. I noticed that the book had an application that was designed for tablets and smart phones, but I couldn't get the PC or the Galaxy to take it. However, one of the other members couldn't get it to work on her smart phone. But, there is a wealth of info on the author's website about the book.

I made pretty extensive notes on the novel in my steno book for the meeting.
The novel is a swarm of subplots and develops a myriad of characters, but everything hangs together very well. My only suggestion was that there might have been a better ending, but I can live with it.

The book could be viewed as a novel of demon possession OR....just a man trying to save his daughter from a tragic death to any means. I loved the way the book first presented the
'Black Magic' angle, and then the revelation about the cancer. I don't think that I've ever seen this done in any novel- a supernatural theme presented, and then reimagined as plausible fact.

Author's website-

Sunday, January 18, 2015

O-ZONE by Paul Theroux

Finished Su 1/18/14

Another one of mine that I last read and finished Su 2/6/94. Although I only remembered some of it, I really enjoyed it the second time around.

'O-Zone' is the outer zone of the US. Located in Missouri and the site of a nuclear spill that was at first called a natural disaster, then an accident, incident.

The novel begins when the group decides to visit 'O-Zone' for New Years Day. The zone is supposed to be unpopulated, but during the course of the novel it is revealed that many different types of people live in the area.

The aliens are just like 'the owners', and it's basically a PR scam against the poor and disenfranchised.  Kinda like today although this novel was written in 1986. When you first learn of the aliens you think they were actually 'not of this world', but soon it's clear that they are just poor people.

Hardy and Hooper Allbright are brothers. Allbrights was a department store that converted to 'on-line, catalog sales'. Hooper runs 'the store', and Hardy works for 'Asfalt Corporation'. He is a scientist who works to change the weather to encourage land usage. It's an offshoot of the oil industry. Large areas of desolate land are covered in oil. This darkens the soil and changes the air currents. Probably has some basis in fact.

Holly and Willis Murdick- Willis is a 'neo-con' nitwit, heavily into guns and firepower. He belongs to a paramilitary outfit called 'Godseye'. They patrol the border and prey on 'aliens'. 'Snake Eyes' is their unit.

Holly is shallow and never faithful to her husband. I don't think he cares and all the marriages are pretty loose, and you can do as you wish.

Hardy is married to Moura. She has a son, Fisher (Fish, Fizzy) by a 'clinic'. These were fertility clinics that have now become more or less bordellos.

Moura is obsessed with her donor who she met (used) sixteen years earlier. She found his name, Boy or Boyd, and in the end of the novel rekindles their relationship.

Fish is super intelligent but socially retarded. Fish ends up left behind in The Zone and becomes part of a band of aliens. He gives them technology and they help him to grow into adulthood. Fish stays in the Zone at the end of the novel.

Hooper falls in love with an alien, Bligh. She is a fifteen year old girl who lives with the aliens.  

I liked the book and it would probably make a great film.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

This was the January selection for the Classical Book Club. I only read the first hundred pages, a few sections in the middle, and the ending and epilogue. I also devoted a couple of hours reading about the novel at various sites, but I didn't like the book AT ALL.

Tomorrow is the meeting( Mo 1/18/15) and I'll probably cancel. The weather is supposed to be bad; an inch or so of 'wintry mix', and the only reason that I would attend is to ask group members if they liked it and "Why?". I am slightly curious as to what sections that caught their interest because I certainly didn't detect any. All in all I think I've given this dog far too much of my time already, and enough is enough.

Also, Dr. Ellison's office is supposed to call tomorrow with the results of my lab work, and I'd like to be here to take the call. I might have to visit the drugstore for prescriptions, or I might have to go back in to see the doctor.

And, the question of the dental insurance cancellation for 2015 needs attention.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

MR. PARADISE by Elmore Leonard

Finished Sa 1/10/15

From my collection and I first read this and finished it on Fr 4/21/06.

Easily one of Leonard's best. Reminded me of RUM PUNCH (film JACKIE BROWN) in that both novels are love stories concerning two complex and morally ambiguous people.


Mr. Paradise is a rich,  old man who has a black and sleazy man-servant, Montez Taylor. Part of his job is to provide the old man with female companionship. Chloe gets five grand a week for her services and one night she asks her friend and roommate, Kelly to tag along. However, on this particular night Montez has contracted two white hit-men, Art and Carl, to kill Mr. Paradise, but he was unaware of the sex party in progress. The hitmen arrive, take out Mr. Paradise and also Chloe who is sitting on his lap naked. Kelly is upstairs at the time of the killings.

Montez makes Kelly tell the cops that she is Chloe because Montex thinks that Chloe is going to receive over a hundred thousand dollars in stocks and he can use Kelly to get the money.

Frank Delsa is on the case and during the investigation he falls for Kelly. It's an intricate dance to express his feelings of lust/love for Kelly, and not compromise the legal situation as the chief investigator on a murder case. Is Kelly involved in the plot? No, she really isn't.

A couple of subplots involve a drug killing in which a man is cut with a chain saw into 'six parts'. (everyone assumes it would be five, but they forget to count the trunk as the sixth part), and the CI, Orlando who is trying to find the killer of these drug dealers ( 3-Jay). Also, the story of Lloyd who is the butler for Mr. Paradise. He kind of looks and acts like an 'uncle Tom', but really is a wily and crafty old-time gangster. He inherits the house in the end.

A short and easy read and no one has a better ear for dialog than Elmore Leonard. Makes me want to scour the collection for more of his novels.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

THE UNCENSORED MAN by Arthur Sellings

Finished We 1/7/15

I found this one on the shelves and first finished it We 9/25/96. It is written in the 60's clunky SciFi style, but not fully realized at all.

Not all that sure about what it was about, but seemed to deal with The Freudian Censor Principle. Not even sure if this is real, but it says that the unconscious provides humans with a 'censor' that protects us from harm while awake or asleep.  And, I guess access to other dimensions or universes are shielded from us by this censor, and the lead character, Dr. Mark Anders is 'the uncensored man' because he can gain access to other dimensions.

The main character is Dr. Mark Anders, and he works for a super secret installation within the military industrial complex. Two incidents caused him to seek a shrink. 1)  While helping a doctor friend with an epileptic patient, the young man bursts into German, and he had absolutely no knowledge of the language, and 2) While Dr. Anders is breaking in a new super computer, the machine spits out part of the Book of Revelation in Greek.

Dr. Nowatski is the shrink and he employs LSD therapy treating Anders for mild depression. The novel was written in 1964 and LSD was pretty much unheard of, but did anyone actually use if for depression therapy?

When injected with the drug, Anders travels to another dimension. Might be Past or Future, or a completely different universe altogether. Not really covered.

In this 'other land' he meets Solvers, Seekers, Dreamers, and a lover. He gets slightly enhanced powers of insight and I think he is enlisted to try and stop the nuclear arms race.

The people in the other universe may have been generated by racial memories or a kind of collective unconscious.

In the end, his girl from the other land crosses back into Anders's world and they just might live happily everafter.

The book was a fast read, with many interesting ideas, but not nearly developed.

The weakest of PK DICK  and JOHN BRUNNER could blow this guy out of the water

Author's link at wikipedia-

Saturday, January 3, 2015

REDCOAT by Bernard Cornwell

Finished Sa 1/3/15

This is one of my books, and it reads more like a 'Young Adult' novel.
It deals with the seven month occupation of the city of Philadelphia in 1777.
Howe's plan was to go easy and the rebels and hope that they would agree to a peace. He knew that he didn't have the necessary forces to put down a revolt over so large an area. But, many on the British side felt that he was not doing enough to fight to crush the rebellion.

Sam and Nate Gilpin- Twins, privates in the British army. Nate is killed by Sargent Scammell.for desertion on the field of battle. Nate was in love with Maggie who wa married to Scammell. Sam is great with horses and content to be a Redcoat, until he too falls in love with Caroline, a rebel woman who makes her living piloting a small sailing vessel on the river.

Jonathan Beckett- young man with a clubfoot who is living with his uncle, Abel. Jonathan is a rebel and Abel is all for the British and the power of commerce. The Fox News point of view in the 18th century. Jonathan is murdered while fleeing to the north. His uncle had him placed on a ship bound for London, and Jonathan wanted to stay in America and be with his lover Caroline. After he dies, Sam and Caroline admit to their love for each other. Not as corny as it sounds, but close.

Martha Crowl is Jonathan's older sister. She has a daughter Lydia and is a rich widow with strong feelings of Liberty. She is pretty and popular with the occupation forces. She is a spy for the rebels and uses Caroline to send messages north.

Christopher Vane- a brave officer who becomes an aide to General Howe. He manages to get three wagons of ammunition to the troops when most men would have given up. Vane has a background in business and sees the war as a means to financial security. The book makes a small but important point that due to the inheritance laws (only the first son could inherit) the younger brothers really had no other choice but to join the military because at least there, they might make their marks.

As historical novels go, this is kind of weak, but not a complete disaster. But, Kenneth Roberts (OLIVER WISWELL, RABBLE IN ARMS) writing is far superior to Cornwell.

General William Howe-,_5th_Viscount_Howe

General Charles Cornwallis-,_1st_Marquess_Cornwallis

General Charles Lee- he was a captured American general who enjoyed the hospitality of the British in Philadelphia. Friend of General Howe-

Lizzie Loring- Mistress of General Howe and married to another man during their affair-

Queen's Rangers- American loyalists who were fighting with the British-

Battle of Saratoga-

Although not developed, the novel points to George Washington's failure as a general. He really lost far more battles than he won, and if it wasn't for the French, the war for independence would have certainly been lost.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

BLACK MARKET by James Patterson

Finished Tu 12/30/14

An early work from James Patterson from 1986. A real page-turner, but this guy is really only a passable author, but there's no denying that the story rockets right along.

Fifteen years before 9/11 about the destruction of lower Manhattan by terrorists, only in this tale it's spear-headed by disgruntled Vietnam war vets. In the morning the wharf area was detonated, and then in the early evening most of the major banks and investment firms were taken out by radio detonated charges. They use the name GREEN BAND.

This is one of his 'stand-alone thrillers' featuring Arch Carroll who is an agent for the Defense Intelligence Agency. Carroll's wife died of cancer at 31 years old and left him with four young children who are being looked after by his younger sister, Mary Katherine. Arch falls in love with an agent for the Security Exchange, Caitlin Dillon.

The operation is run by Colonel David Hudson. He is the cream of America's military (Rangers/Seals/Green Berets), but he is being controlled by a Group of 12 that are international business leaders who are beyond the purview of the US government. In the final chapter these men are brought down. I guess the American Vice President Elliot is 'the front' for these leaders.

Another book ideal for the beach or on an airplane.