Thursday, July 23, 2009

More mini-reviews + one that got a little out-of-hand

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
Kavalier & Clay tells the story of two Jewish cousins in 1940s Manhattan and their rise to the top of the Comic book industry. Joe Kavalier, a refugee from Nazi-occupied Pargue, is the artist while Sammy Clay provides the storylines. Kavalier & Clay won the Pulitzer Prize and I understand why. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The writing is sharp and witty and the story moves a long nicely. I'm not a comic book fan, myself, but you walk away from the story with an idea of how comics developed from glorified magazine advertising into the multi-million industry that Hollywood has taken such a shine to. Its a bit thick at 650 pages but I would recommend The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay to anyone.

The Summer of '49 by David Halberstram

To borrow some baseball terminology (as Halberstram did so often it became cheesy), this book was right in my wheelhouse. It's about three things that I really love: Is it about baseball? Check. Is it about the New York Yankees? Check. Is it about the New York Yankees beating the Boston Red Sawks? Check. Really as far as it goes for me... That's all I need from a book. If you're not a big baseball/Yankees/sawks fan than I don't know if I'd recommend this to you. The writing is a little corny. Actually it's a lot corny. But then I guess the 40s were kind of a corny time.

Air Force One is Haunted by Robert Sterling

Okay this book was just out of control remix. I found it in a bin of English language books in Paris for 2 Euro and I had to pick it up because I thought it was the best title I've ever seen (that KILLS Snakes on a Plane). As soon as I started reading it I decided to mark passages with ridiculous &%$@ and terrible writing. If I posted every one of those passages in here it'd be by far the longest post in this blog's history. The hits just kept coming. First off here's what's written on the back;

---AT HOME,---
the most devastating depression since the 30s has stricken the nation.
the Soviets have signed a nonagression pact with China and now move toward the final showdown with America.
---IN SPACE,---
The United States has perfected the ultimate anti-missile defense system.

With a devastating first strike against Russia, President Jeremy Haines can end all his troubles... Or can he?

Aboard Air Force One, the President receives his answer - from the living apparation of another President, dead many years. Complete with his famous laugh and steel crutch. A man for all crises, especially depressions and world wars.

So essentially the President can wipe out the Russians but he has to decide if he wants to kill a bunch of innocents. So FDR's ghost starts visiting him on Air Force One for some reason. He's very helpful. The president sees a female psychiatrist. She's hot. They fall in love and eventually bang. This gross breach of doctor-patient decorum is addressed for like 3 lines and then never brought up again. Oh yeah, turns out the protagonist decides NOT to vaporize a couple million Rooskies and comes up with a clever ploy to secure peace. Also for some reason FDR tries to talk the President into melting Asia into a big piece of glass. No real explanation for that either. Love it.

As soon as I started the book I knew the first chapter was going to start with the President telling someone (turned out to be a shrink) that he was seeing a ghost. But they wouldn't name the ghost... Not just yet. And then the last line of the chapter would be something like... "What does the ghost looke like?" "You're not gonna believe this... But it's Franklin Delano Roosevelt,"

That's almost word for word what happened. This book has so many god-damned gems I don't even know where to start. But here's two or three that I can't help but post:

Washington observers, surprised at Collison's open insubordination, were stunned at the President's Milquetoast reaction. "Haines carried turning the other cheek too far," the Washington Post grieved. There is growing belief in world capitals, including America's, that Jeremy Haines has lost his ability and even his will to lead. If this is true, Franklin Delano Roosevelt must be turning over in his grave.

This one wasn't even in the book, it was in the prologue! We're only on page xv and it's already laughable! This next one is describing McNulty, the hard-nosed but loveable Secret Service agent, outside of the President's chambers after FDR's first visit.

...Or he was talking to someone else just before Cardella checked and didn't want to tell the pilot who it was. That had to be it... Excpt that his Irish intuition kept telling him something was wrong.

Irish intuition? Is that like Spidey-sense?

The Speaker chuckled, "I'll admit that most Congressman couldn't keep a secret longer than a nympho can hang onto her virginity, but that doesn't include yours truly...

Hahahahahahaha. Okay last one I promise (I'm sorry but I literally have over 50 passages like this marked and it's so hard to pick and choose).

'Good luck, and keep me informed,' Rafferty said. But for a long time after Duane Collison left, the Speaker of the House sat in his study, brooding. In the bowels of his conscience was a gnawing ulcer of doubt.

Yup. Final notes:

1) I don't think Robert Serling knows what ubiquitous means.
2) Wasn't TR the Roosevelt that said 'Bully?' Because FDRs ghost says it about 10 times in here and it'd be brilliant if Serling screwed the pooch on that one too.
3) If you can get your hands on this book, do it. I read it in like 3 hours and it was about as much fun as I've ever had with a book. It was like reading a Nicolas Cage film.

Sorry - I have to include this. This was on the page following the novel's wonderous finish:

- Must reading for all fans of the star of Deliverance and Smokey and the Bandit -
BURT REYNOLDS: An Unauthorized Biography by Sylvia Safran Resnick
"No respectable Burt Reynolds fan should miss it" - Asbury Park Press
"A lot of goodies that manage to show some insight of the man behind the hunk." - Fresno Bee



Nihil Novum said...

I love historical fiction.

Christopher said...

Well, I would read this, but you totally included too many spoilers. Also: a McNulty! No piece of media has ever not been improved by the addition of a McNulty.