Monday, February 1, 2010

Reading List: January 2010

Though the past couple of months have seen posts of substance, said posts have been infrequent at best. I hope they have been entertaining and occasionally thought-provoking, and while I hope to post more often, I wonder if I have the discipline to actually knock out thoughtful posts on a more frequent basis. Nevertheless, discipline is something I sorely need to improve upon in several walks of life, so I shall try. Progress on my conference paper has been proceeding fairly well, though I need to organize my thoughts again and define the parameters of my question in order to adequately yet concisely address the emerging film genre of hyperlink cinema.

Over the past month I only managed to complete six books and two graphic novels, which is due to a changing emphasis on my reading. Joining Twitter has provided me with a near
constant stream of links to new stories and essays on film, and I started to watch Lost online, which I have generally enjoyed. Anyway, I've decided to return to the old format of capsule reviews instead of a dry list, so here it goes:

1. The Audacity to Win by David Plouffe: Obama for America campaign director Plouffe recaps how the current administration navigated the tumultuous primaries and slaughtered John McCain in the general election. A fascinating behind the scenes account, the author too often shoulders the responsibility for anything that went wrong and rarely characterizes any candidate missteps as mistakes, proving his loyalty but making one wonder how accurate such an account is. It would be interesting to read the Obama sections in Game Change, to compare and contrast.

2. Green Lantern Corps: Sins of the Star Sapphire by Peter J. Tomasi, et al.: After the Sinestro Corps War, new lanterns across the color spectrum were created and have led up to the current Blackest Night storyline. The Star Sapphire Corps represent love, and as the Guardians order that relationships and love by Green Lanterns are forbidden, a hole in the feeling spectrum is filled. Overall, I found the story to be mediocre, seeming only to be putting pieces into place for later storylines. In addition, I've never really liked Guy Gardener, so Tomasi's work here doesn't resonate with me on two levels. I'm taking steps to get the collections on the Red and Orange Lanterns, so expect updates to follow.

3. Flight, Volume 3 edited by Kazu Kibuishi: The third excellent collection in this series. Overall quite entertaining, though I was a bit disappointed that certain storylines that continued from the first volume to the second weren't followed through here. That aside, such collections collect and display emerging talent, and I look forward to reading more by several of these creators in the future.

4. Mendoza in Hollywood by Kage Baker: I am interested in the mythology surrounding Baker's Company, but it only serves as a background to a mediocre story about a British plot to steal California during the Civil Wa
r. The narrative is bogged down with a twenty page recount of a D.W. Griffith film, and I struggled to make it through the whole thing. I understand that there is more of a focus on the Company in future novels, but I honestly don't know that I'll be going back.

5. The Adderall Diaries by Stephen Elliott: Heaps of praise made me want to read this new 'crime memoir' by an author whose work I have previously enjoyed, and while this was a decent book, it falls short of the expectations I had for it. While covering a murder trial, Elliott simultaneously investigates his relationship with his father, who abandoned him into foster care as a teenager, as well as his penchant for masochistic relationship. Good, entertaining, just not great.

6. Let's Talk About Love by Carl Wilson: Highly recommended. Read my thoughts on this book here.

7. Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman: Klosterman writes intelligently about pop culture; in this book he has new essays on topics like the liberalism of the NFL, time travel, and the parallels between David Koresh and Kurt Cobain. Such essays are fantastically entertaining, but even at their most insightful, they seem to lack
resonance. Perhaps this is one of the hazards of writing about pop culture, a lesson that perhaps I should learn in a hurry.

8. Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde: Fforde's new universe imagines a future in which social castes and protocols are regulated by one's individual color perception. Protagonist Eddie Russet is looking to marry up when he and his father are shipped to one of the outer territories, where he learns that the rigid rules of society have a dark side as he begins to question the status quo with the help of Jane, a Grey who exists as a menial servant due to her a
pparent lack of color perception. While the story moves along quickly enough, the creation of this world seemed to take precedence over telling an entertaining yarn, setting up for future stories at the expense of this one. However, a new work by Fforde is always welcome, and I am excited to read future stories set within this universe.

There it is. As always, I welcome comments, questions, corrections, unrelated hilarity, and
other notes of substance. I'll endeavor to post more often over the coming month, but of course, I've said that before.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'd pick up The Graveyard Game if I were you. It's the best of the Company novels that I read: it delves most into the mythos, and Joseph just plain rocks. We get a really cool puzzle unfolding across time and space.