Where The Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein (10/10) — A collection of illustrated poems for kids I discovered one night while looking for a bedtime book to read to my niece. (I ordered it for myself the next morning.) I laughed out loud to just about every poem in the book. A clever melding of parables and just silliness. (Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree is another kids book that should be on every adult’s bookshelf.)
The Little Prince (audio book) by Antoine Saint-Exupery (9/10) — A classic short novel for young adults and children, this dramatic reading is captivating and moving. It’s about a little boy (or prince) who befriends an airplane pilot who’s crashed in the desert and tells him the story of his lonely, absurd experiences with adults. It’s magical and sad and just as good as the original illustrated book. (Note to Podcast People: I listened to it on my MP3 player while walking to and from work for a week. Not a bad substitute for regular podcast listening.)
Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut (8/10) — A funny, profound, disturbing and sympathetic story about an American writer who becomes a secret agent during WWII by posing as a Nazi propagandist. Is he one of the good guys or is he just as happy working for the Nazis? Vonnegut reminds me of Woody Allen in that most of his works blend together as variations on a theme, usually deeply ethical. If you like Slaughterhouse-Five, you’ll probably enjoy Mother Night. A quote from pages 163-64:
Continue reading The last few books I read…
I never think to create a draft post and write a few sentences about the latest book I’ve read, which is probably what J-Walk does. My last Books I’ve Read Recently post was in June, 2007, yet I read at least one book a week.
- The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (7/10)
This is an epic story that takes place in England in the 1100s, which is fun to read about: knights, earls, tyrants, monks, etc.. It’s a good book, but an easy read. You get to know the characters well, wanting to see how they turn out, wondering who dies and lives. Predictable at times, but the era portrayed is compelling.
- Andromeda Gun by John Boyd (7/10)
A science-fiction western written in 1974 that I enjoyed, where an alien possess a cowboy in the 1800s, trying to mend his unlawful ways. Well written and intelligent, it will make you think about morality. This is one of a thousand paperbacks I have that I’m slowly weeding through.
- Lisey’s Story by Stephen King (4/10)
I couldn’t finish it. Too wordy. It’s about a women grieving over her husband who was an author. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood for it.
- Welcome To The Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut (9/10)
One of the best collection of short stories. A classic. Most have a science-fiction theme, but they’re accessible by all, I think: funny with ideas and images that will stick to you like tar. Read this.
- Saturday by Ian McEwan (8/10)
A day in the life of a man in London, England, whose perspective of life is changed after an encounter with a thug that threatens his family. Lots of think about in this novel, where the protagonist expresses views about modern events and politics. It didn’t bore me, but it didn’t stick with me either; I don’t remember much about it now; however, I did enjoy it.
Kurt Vonnegut died yesterday.
I only read his short stories.
UPDATE: Nearly every paper on the planet has published an article about Kurt Vonnegut in the past 24 hours. Here’s one from the Globe and Mail.
Cold Turkey, a cynical article by Kurt Vonnegut:
I know now that there is not a chance in hell of America’s becoming humane and reasonable. Because power corrupts us, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Human beings are chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power…
I was born a human being in 1922 A.D. What does “A.D.” signify? That commemorates an inmate of this lunatic asylum we call Earth who was nailed to a wooden cross by a bunch of other inmates. With him still conscious, they hammered spikes through his wrists and insteps, and into the wood. Then they set the cross upright, so he dangled up there where even the shortest person in the crowd could see him writhing this way and that.
Can you imagine people doing such a thing to a person?
No problem. That’s entertainment. Ask the devout Roman Catholic Mel Gibson, who, as an act of piety, has just made a fortune with a movie about how Jesus was tortured. Never mind what Jesus said.