Tuesday, February 24, 2015

RED DRAGON by Thomas Harris

Finished Tu 2/24/15

One of my novels and according to the flyleaf, I'd never read it, but I certainly remember the film, MANHUNTER. Tom Noonan was terrific as Francis Dolarhyde and Will Peterson was perfect as the damaged and inciteful agent, Will Graham. I'll never forget the 'killing scene' when Noonan, as Dolarhyde, attacks the blind film developer, Reba McClane (Joan Allen) as The Iron Butterfly's 'InnaGodaDivita' plays on the soundtrack. Brian Cox as Hannibal Lecter.

Will Graham- Psychologically and physically damaged FBI profiler is asked by his old boss, Jack Crawford, to come out of semi retirement and help him on The Tooth Fairy Case.

Molly, Graham's wife, Willy, eight year old son. This is Will's second marriage.

The Leeds and The Jacobis- Two families that are slaughtered by Dolarhyde.

Tooth Fairy is a muscular body builder with a tattoo of William Blake's, The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with Sun on his back.

Severe hairlip. Raised in a children's home and then by his insane grandmother. She owned an assisted care facility for the elderly. This is where Dolarhyde lives. Located in a suburb of St. Louis. 
Dolarhyde works as a manager at The Gateway Film Laboratory of St. Louis. 

He has a relationship with Reba McClane who works for a sister company of Gateway. She is very attracted to him, but The Red Dragon in him wants him to kill her. He doesn't, or makes it appear that he has taken his own life. Really, he has blown the head off a gas station attendant  who he has killed and kidnapped and taken to his house. This man had insulted Reba when they were getting gas. They guy was looking up her dress when he noticed the white cane and knew that she was blind. 

The suicide was a ruse to kill Will. This occurs at Molly and Will's home in Marathon Florida. Will has trained Molly in the use of firearms and she empties a revolver into The Tooth Fairy after he has seriously stabbed Will in the face. 

the author's page at wikipedia-


RED DRAGON at wikipedia-


Monday, February 23, 2015

DOLLBABY by Laura Lane McNeal

Finished Su 2/22/15

February selection Contemporary Book Club. Meeting We 2/25/15

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

THE EDICT by Max Ehrlich

Finished Tu 2/17/15

I picked  up this hard cover novel at the Salvation Army store on Mo 11/16/98 and finished it in two days. I dropped off a n old microwave, popcorn popper, and a blender. Don't remember any of that.

This was a surprisingly good novel about a dystopian future world that is plagued with overcrowding and pollution. At first the World Government tries euthanasia of anyone over the age of 70, but then settles on Zero Population Growth for thirty years.

All kinds of sexual relationships are encouraged and abortions are given upon conception. If a child is born or a woman is found to be pregnant they are all killed.

So that women can feel maternal urges, the state develops life-like baby dolls that look almost human. They are conditioned to believe that these dolls are real human infants. The men are also given therapeutic treatments to continue the illusion.

'Big Mouth' is a satellite that rotates the earth and beams propaganda and Happy Songs and Homilies to the people of earth.

Edna and George Borden
Carole and Russ Evans

These two couples live in a kind of nature preserve. Everyone else lives below in a teeming metropolis where people live literally on top of each other. Scenes in the novel of people marching shoulder to shoulder throughout the day. There is just no room for privacy.

Carole conceives a child with Russ and they decided to try to keep it. They fix up an ancient bomb shelter in their house for the child, John.

Although Edna has a doll, Peter, she wants a real child and when they discover what the Evans's are concealing, they demand that they have partial ownership. Soon Edna wants it all. They can do this because Edna's parents are rich and well connected, and George is Russ's boss in the preserve and he can have him fired and banished to the teeming slums if they don't go along.

In the end of the novel the Evans take a boat and sail to a forbidden island where ancient nuclear and chemical weapons have been stored. There are other people who have mad the voyage to freedom, and they are happy although they will only survive for a few years.  

This was an easy novel to read, and I really think that it is a kind of Lost Classic. It's a shame that more people are not aware of this author and this book. Max Ehrlich is known for his novel,

THE REINCARNATION OF PETER PROUD. A minor hit movie in the 70's that is unfortunately not available on Netflix.

Friday, February 13, 2015

DOPEFIEND by Donald Goines

Finished Fr 2/14/15

Set in the early 1970's in Detroit's ghetto

Centers on Porky's dope-den (shooting gallery) and his sexually perverse and uncaring ways. He doesn't use heroin and sees his clients as less than human.

He tries to hook women so that he can make them perform sexually with his two large dogs.

The deteriorating love affair between Teddy and Terry is the major subplot of the novel. Teddy has already become less than human due to his addiction, and the novel diagrams Terry's journey into heroin Hell. She begins with a job in a department store, and lives at home with her loving parents, but she loses it all, and becomes a prostitute to pay Porky for her fixes.

She is driven insane by the sight of her friend, Minnie, who is an addict and very pregnant who commits suicide. She hangs herself in their apartment and the baby is partially born while Minnie swings at the end of a rope.

The novel ends with The Wilson's visiting Terry in a mental health facility where she has regressed to her ten year old self to retreat from the psychological horror of Minnie's death.

Teddy is shot and killed by Porky's goons after Teddy and two of his friends ripped off Porky for one thousand dollars. This money was to be paid to pay off the cops on his beat so that he could continue his illegal business. (Payoff)

The writing is pretty superficial and although the plot is horrifying, you really don't feel the desperation of the characters. It comes off as almost a over-the-top melodramatic treatise on the horrors of drug addiction.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

SONG OF THE LARK by Willa Cather

Finished Th 2/12/15
February 2015 selection for the Classic Book Club

Out of all of the books that we have read, this might be my favourite.

Link for novel wikipedia-


Author wikipedia-


Monday, February 9, 2015


Finished Su 2/8/15

According to the flyleaf, this is the third time I've read this novel since 2004, but PKD's books are always worth multiple readings.

Penfield Mood Alternator- machine that allows the user to 'dial-in' how they want to feel

Buster Friendly and His Friendly Friends- Radio personality that operates 24 hrs a day, and revealed to be an android. His show explodes the secret that Wilbur Mercer is a fraud.

Wilbur Mercer- Using the Penfield, a user is able to connect with Mercer who is a Christ-like figure who rises and falls forever. Shadowy figures throw rocks at Mercer, and leave marks on the user.

Rick Deckard- Central character who is employed as a bounty hunter by the San Francisco Police Department. Androids from other planets come back to earth posing as human, and it's the bounty hunter's job to kill them. Later in the novel it's revealed that Deckard has developed an emphatic feeling for androids. Before he terminates an android he must administer a test to determine whether they are human, and the test monitors empathy because androids cannot 'feel' for another entity. Whether or not androids can't 'feel' is one of the themes.

Voight-Kampff Test- One of the tests to determine Human or Android

Deckard owned a sheep because he couldn't afford a real animal. After World War Terminus most forms of life on Earth begin to disappear making pets of any kind very valuable. Also, radioactivity has made most humans infertile and diminished IQ. If you can't reproduce or show evidence of normal IQ, you're stuck on Earth and can't emigrate.

J.R. Isidore- 'Chicken head' who lives alone in an abandoned building full of 'kipple'. 'Kipple' is trash and discarded items which is kind of a metaphor for entropy. It is becoming ubiquitous.

Excellent link to the novel on wikipedia-


Friday, February 6, 2015

DISTRACTION by Bruce Sterling

Finished Fr 2/6/15

Another from my collection and on the flyleaf it says that I received it via the Internet Tu 2/28/06, but no mention if I completed it. It was somewhat familiar.

Set in a dystopian America of 2044 and explores the themes of media and politics

Most of the story takes place near Buna, East Texas and Louisiana

Oscar Valparaiso- The central character. He was working on an election campaign for Bambakias. He is a Human Clone. His father was a popular movie star and was involved in a film about cloning and found Oscar at an illegal operation in Europe and adopted him. Oscar is the quintessential political operative. He falls in love with Greta and this is the overall theme of the novel- this most unusual love story.

Greta Penninger- A famous neurologist working at a government laboratory in Buna, TX. Tall, not pretty, and socially awkward. She is drawn to Oscar because she recognizes his intelligence and because he is not altogether human, they bond. She thrives in 'the lab', but is forced into a powerful management position and she comes to realize that she also has a flair for 'power'.

Senator Alcott Bambakias- Jurnior senator and put in the Senate thands to Oscar's campaign and his 'krewe'. Krewe is the staff of irregulars that Oscar has assembled, and truly more than the sum of each individual member. Suffering from serious mental issues

Kevin Hamilton- Security expert and hacker supreme. Skills go back to early use of computers and was always in trouble with he authorities. He was handling security on Oscar's street in Boston when he joins the team. Problems with his feet.

Governor Huey- Crazy governor of Louisiana that runs the state as his own private kingdom. One of the subplots is how he and his people are able to develop a genetic splice that enables a person to think of two different things simultaneously. In the end of the novel, Great and Oscar become infected with this malady, although they make it 'work'. Huey perfected the process with a group of Haitians who escaped to they bayou. Most thought that the way they acted was because of their strange religion, Haitian Vodou, but there was more to the story.

Many branches of the American armed forces are completely unfunded and resort to shaking down the local citizens. They set up roadblocks to exact these 'tolls'.

The Buna Laboratory including the Hot Zone (an area in the lab that is completely sealed and covered by a dome). Many forms of animals that have become extinct have been recreated and run free lab at the facility. These animals are sometimes given as gifts and are very rare and expensive.

Moderators vs. Regulators- These are blocks of the disenfranchised that have formed sophisticated 'gangs' and battle for turf. They are completely off the grid. I guess most Americans work and live below the government. The Regs are working clandestinely for Green Heuy and the Mods work for Oscar and President Two Feathers.

President Two Feathers- The American president of American Indian heritage. He is a super wealthy casino owner and operator and heads up the executive branch. There are sixteen major political parties in the America of 2044

CDIA- The Civil Defense Intelligence Agency. This agency was formed to enlist the aid of the Moderators to help the president return order to the state. This is a way to stop Huey and to help Oscar

War with Netherlands- The Netherlands has been negatively impacted by global warming and is antagonistic to the US. President Two Feathers declares war on the country only to shift out from under The Emergency Measures that has impacted the federal government. Measures put in place during and Emergency can only be undone during time of war. Reminded me of the theme in the old novel, THE MOUSE THAT ROARED.

Loved the book and although I've read some by Sterling and also some of his collaboration with William Gibson, I definitely want to read some more by Sterling.