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Showing posts from February, 2011

Review: A Dirty Job

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Christopher Moore is one big surprise.  How would a reader expect him to deal with death and souls?  With humor, compassion and wit?  In A Dirty Job, Moore addresses this subject with a Beta male, hellhounds, secondhand-store owners and a well-dressed lesbian.

Charlie doesn't expect to win the heart of Rachel, the woman of his dreams, but sometimes life gives.  Then it takes away: at the birth of their first child, a tall man in a mint-green outfit picks up her favorite CD and leaves as she breathes her las — only Charlie wasn't supposed to be able to see him.

Faced with raising his daughter Sophie alone, he returns to his secondhand merchandise store in San Francisco to figure out the rest of his life — and doesn't get a mail delivery that would change his life.

Again Christopher Moore creates absurd situations and quirky, lovable characters who spout some of the funniest dialogue and share amazing, snort-worthy observations.  Sophie can't say "kitty."  Deat…

How Do You "Shop" for Books?

This morning, as I perused the book section of the local newspaper, I wondered how other people find books to read.
Me, I troll constantly for books. I feel a little like a shark. Seeking books to read is as natural to me as breathing. It's not that I don't have enough to read, for heaven's sake. Even after my moratorium, my nightstand creaks under the weight of the pending book pile. We won't even mention the "vertical" stacks in my den (one of which nearly beaned a cat last weekend).
I just love books. I love the news stories about them, the adventure of seeking them, the thrill of encountering a new gem. I love the feel of books, turning them over in my hand as I ponder them, reading the dust jacket blurbs, wondering just how accurate the reviews are. (I mean, one doesn't expect to read "Ick!" on a dust jacket, does one?)
The thrill is as much in the hunt as in the actual discovery. I check out book reviews, book news, book and literature blogs,…

Review: Dracula

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Bram Stoker rocks. He created the grandfather of all vampire books, Dracula, with little more than legend and ghost story. He assembled this information into a compelling story that, even more than a century  later, remains riveting.

By cracking a spine of this novel, readers re-introduce themselves to the ideas that were shocking, horrifying even, in 1897 when the Irishman released the book.  There was a time when we couldn't imagine a person without a reflection, or what could cause two small holes in a person's neck.

Stoker embraces modernity and tradition in the same tale.  Garlic and psychology, typewriters and voice recorders, blood-suckers and blood transfusions proceed lockstep through this ancient, modern tale.  Nowhere better is this dichotomy represented than in the character of Professor Abraham Van Helsing, a Dutch scholar who uses both modern weapons and ancient talismans to fight the unspeakable horror four men and two women must face before the tale is through.…

Farewell, Brian Jacques, Master Storyteller

I was introduced to Redwall by a fellow reader who became one of my best friends.  She and I shared a love of many things, including books — and especially Brian Jacques, whose death on February 5 has lost this world a fabulous storyteller.

I remember traveling to the Bailey's Crossroad, Va., Borders to listen to him read.  Carole and her husband Steve came with their two children.  The children were young, in elementary school, and the place was packed.  The kids sat as close as they could and the adults peered from the edges, mesmerized as he recited the description of Cluny the Scourge in Redwall.

When I say "recited," what I mean is "performed."  I never heard such a sonorous voice, rich and interesting.  He whispered, he shouted, he drew us in close to share asides, he used his entire body to tell the tale.  I don't think I took a single breath for fear of missing a syllable.  I went to my reading eye and watched Cluny appear before me, just as Jacques…