Books I’ve Read Recently

  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy 9 out of 10 stars (9/10)
    Yes, this is an Oprah pick, but I read that it had a science-fiction element to it, and it was cheap (at Costco). It’s a depressing novel about a father and son wandering America after civilization has been destroyed. It’s violent, touching, and memorable. The author doesn’t follow the rules of grammar for the most part, helping to set the somber tone and chaos that the characters live in. I recommend it as a horror story – not something to read to the kids at bedtime, although there’s some tenderness there, too.
  • Lullabies For Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill 7 out of 10 stars (7/10)
    This won the 2007 CBC Radio Canada Reads contest, which means little since the books are selected from five Canadian celebrities; however, the books they pick from ARE often good, including this one. It’s about a 13 year old girl growing up in a city with a dad who’s a drug addict. The story isn’t as depressing as The Road (above), but it’s close. The girl is smart, having quirks and observations that make her see happiness in awful situations. It’s an interesting portrayal of poverty and street life in a big city, with some hope in the end that things can work out well. Nicely written with lots of well-phrased passages. I would recommend it if you don’t mind reading about the gritty life of prostitution, poverty, and addicts.
  • The Kings of New York: A Year Among the Geeks, Oddballs, and Genuises Who Make Up America’s Top High School Chess Team by Micheal Weinreb 7 out of 10 stars (7/10)
    I think this non-fiction has a selective audience: those who participated in chess tournaments and were in a school chess club, which is why it piqued my interest (my Dad gave it to me). This is a well-written account of people who live chess and who just play the game as a hobby in school. You get to know the players. It chronicles a year of a famous high school chess club based in New York city; how the school recruits top players; who the players are outside of chess and why they play; and the unique world of chess tournaments. Recommended only if you were in a school chess club.

4 Replies to “Books I’ve Read Recently”

  1. When I was younger, I would discover a writer and then read everything he or she wrote. That doesn’t seem to work out too well these days, though. I got into Paul Auster a few summers ago, loved a couple of his books and then eventually got tired of his style. His most recent books did nothing for me (though they’re not bad).

    I recently began reading David Adams Richards, starting with Mercy Among the Children. His writing seems as finely crafted as, say, Michael Ondaatje, and the worlds his presents are rich and deep, but so brutally realistic at times, he’s not easy to take. I immediately moved on to his River of the Brokenhearted, found it to be exactly like Mercy Among the Children (which isn’t a bad thing), but I couldn’t bring myself to enter his world again — a world where not a lot of good things happen to the characters. His sky is always cold and grey.

    Then I gave Kurt Vonnegut a try, beginning with Slaughterhouse Five. I like his no-bullshit style and his sense of humour. The novel was funny (I laughed out loud many times) but thoughtful and insightful. I was entertained, and I thought about novel long after I put it down. I’m currently reading his Deadeye Dick, which has a similar style with a story that jumps all over the place. But I’m not as into it like I was with the first novel. It’s narrative doesn’t seem as focused. Or maybe I’ve gotten tired of his style too. I hope not. Vonnegut has an easy-readibility to him that I appreciate. I don’t have to take track of every fine detail in the story and practically study it like a David Adams Richards novel to get something out of it. I hope I can move on to another of his novels right away without getting sick of him. He seems fun.

  2. phillip the first richards book i read was night below station street…I think that was the name….I then reead others as they presented themselves….despite the grey…i do enjoy these books…athough the subject matter may assist in this enjoyment….if you get a chance find a copy of Down the coal town road by sheldon Currie…ex st fx professor..short stories…Glace Bay miners museum…et al…I met sheldon through his daughter who i went to school with…sheldon was the only person i have met who enjoyed as much as me the movie cold comfort…paul gross, maury chaykin….actually phillip if you track this movie down and get a copy of it i will happily send you another box of coffee…..i really enjoy sheldon’s writing…

  3. I had Mr. Curry for a few classes at St. FX when my regular English prof was away.

    He is the most unexcitable prof I’ve ever had. He knows his stuff, and I did learn from him, but I’m pretty sure I fell asleep at least once during some of his lectures.

    If I could find a VHS copy of the movie, then I could make a DVD of it.

  4. I just increased the rating of The Road from an 8 to a 9: I’m STILL thinking about the story, which is a sign that’s it a keeper. I’ll probably read it again.

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