30 September 2009

66. The Wasp Factory

The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

This was a very interesting book about a 17 year old boy living on an island in Scotland. He is psychotic, obsessive compulsive, neurotic, and generally just a very strange dude. He killed two cousins and his younger brother and made them all look like accidents. The ways he killed are quite imaginative.

The book is told entirely through the thoughts and feelings of this young man.

There is a weird and strained relationship with his father. There is an older brother who has escaped from a mental institution and is headed home. There is a single friend to this boy who just happens to be a dwarf.

The boy spends his days rigging protective barriers to repel invasions on the island. The barriers are sticks in the ground with the heads of dead animals tied to them. He spends time using a contraption he created that uses wasps as a means of showing him the future during some strange rituals he has made up involving the skull of a dog that maimed him when he was a young child. He likes to hunt with his slingshot and goes to war with rabbits. He ends up killing them with bombs and flame throwers.

Very interesting. Very well written. It definitely got me into the man's head. It made me feel confused and empathetic toward mentally ill people.

The end of the book had a twist I never expected!

23 September 2009

65. I, Lucifer - Glen Duncan

I, Lucifer: Finally, The Other Side of the Story - Glen Duncan

God calls Satan one day and says he has a new deal for him. If you spend 30 days as a flesh and blood man I will let you back into heaven. Lucifer accepts the deal for no other reason than to go have a blast for thirty days and stir up some shit while pissing God off for the umpteenth time.

He takes possession of the body of a writer who just committed suicide. He starts writing a screenplay to tell the other side of the story of the fall of the angels from heaven, the creation of the universe, the time spent in the garden of Eden before the fall of man, and so many other interesting times.

The stories are interesting, though total blasphemy for a believer.

The language? The subject matter? The conversation? The thoughts and reflections? Well, it is the devil writing this book.

Question...if Satan is the main character of the book does that make him a protagonist? Shouldn't the devil perpetually be the antagonist for no other reason than he is the devil?

The author of this book is very good at describing the surroundings. As an angel, even a fallen angel, the devil had not experienced what men had experienced, and did not even realize it until he became one himself. The scents were overpowering. The colors were intensified. All manner of stimulation was as though he was thrown from a sensory deprivation state to the real world. The author did an excellent job relating all this.

I found it quite interesting how Duncan wrote this book from Lucifer's perspective. God exists. The Holy Trinity is real. Angels are real. The creation was true, though according to him was not quite as described in the Bible. The Christian God is real in this book, yet the words are written with disgust and sarcasm and hate...just like Satan would write it. For instance, Lucifer would HATE the crucifixion, resurrection and forgiveness of sins thanks to Jesus Christ. So he calls him Jimeny Christmas, belittles what he did, makes fun of him, points out character flaws, etc. While writing all this, Lucifer also acknowledges the truth of it all and the futility of his struggle.

On a number of occasions he pointed out that it was not a fair fight because one of the Holy Trinity got involved in some conflict between the angels or disrupted one of his "operations" in the world of man. Even then Satan knew he didn't really have the power to do a damned thing, but he considers himself the "second most powerful" thing in existence. It was very interesting to read from that point of view.

It was interesting to read that Lucifer did seem to get worried when he was told by Raphael that Hell would be destroyed during the Judgement and that all inhabitants would be placed into a "nothingness"...alone...with nothing...forever. That scared him, but did not change him.

I enjoyed the book, but I had a difficult time picking it up each day. It took a while to read because I just did not get into it like I have with some others. I have looked back at the past week and realize that there has been a lot going on that normally would not be happening. Perhaps those real life distractions were what made this book not jump up and say "Read me!"...or maybe, just maybe, Someone did not want me to enjoy it. :-)

FYI...this is not a book about religion. This is a novel involving religious beings. It's purpose is never to persuade. It was very interesting.

Blog Change

After much internal deliberation I decided to delete the huge list of books sitting on the shelf waiting to be read.
The darned thing changed too often and was too unweildy to maintain.

Nobody cares anyway. :-)

13 September 2009

64. The Metamorphosis

The Metamorphosis - Franz Kafka

This "book" was not very long, but all the commentary was huge.

To tell you the truth, I didn't get it. It was not bad, but it was weird. Are all these people actually getting all that junk out of this story?

I just hope I don't wake up as an insect tomorrow. :-)

63. The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man - H G Wells

I expected this book to be kind of cheesy, like a 1950's monster movie.

It was actually quite good and I enjoyed it from beginning to end. The only thing I did not like was the arrogance of the invisible man. Perhaps the effects of the stuff that made him invisible also caused him to be overly confident and quick tempered.

Can you imagine the things you could do if you were invisible? I could. What I never thought about were the negatives. Things like people walking right into you because they can not see you to go around.

I liked this book more than I expected.

12 September 2009

62. The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway

Some old guy goes fishing...and the book is great.

I read "A Farewell to Arms" earlier this year and was not thrilled by Hemingway's writing. I figured I would give this book and "The Sun Also Rises" a shot despite my lack of enthusiasm after A Farewell to Arms. I am glad I did that because this was an awesome book.

This is one of the best books I have ever read. Who would have thought that so much could be told in a story about a man who is catching a fish. Reading this book I felt joy and pain for the man. I felt sadness for the fish. I rooted for the fish at times hoping he might get away. Then other times I was cheering for the man and hoping he could persevere.

It was an amazing story that sucked me into the tiny world of a small fishing boat and the thoughts of an old man.

I hate the sharks!

09 September 2009

61. We

We - Yevgeny Zamyatin

Before "Nineteen-Eighty Four". Before "A Brave New World". Before "Anthem". Before "The Handmaid's Tale".
There was We.

This is considered to be the beginning of dystopian science fiction writing. It was written in 1921 by a a Russian who had lived through two revolutions and WWI. He supposedly has written this book due to his own personal experiences during those times.

The "We" world is pretty darned interesting. Mathematics and logic rule. They have conquered both the problems of hunger and love. The lives of all the citizens are controlled strictly by "The Table". The leader of OneState is called "The Benefactor" and is supreme.

Sex is for procreation only, but the offspring immediately become the property of OneState. Anyone may have a sexual relation with anyone else. They must go to the government office and request authorization. They are then given a pink ticket for that rendezvous during the allotted 15-30 minute period where they are allowed to lower the shades. LOL

Nobody has a name. All the citizens of OneState have an alpha-numeric code. The protagonist is called D-503. Men start with a consonant and women with a vowel.

This book has numerous references to Christian themes and biblical stories. Even the creation of OneState is related in a way that is similar to the biblical creation in Genesis 1-4. OneState is even called a paradise where D-503 is called Adam and I-331 is called Eve. The serpent is called S-4711 who is repeatedly described as having an S shaped body.

OneState controls everything and the citizens are "happier" for it. There is a constant theme saying that OneState has no room for I, only We. One person alone is useless and causes problems for the whole. All citizens must act as one. Doing the same things at the same times and therefore all benefit. The society is like a single organism or machine operating in it's intended capacity because all the pieces do exactly what they are supposed to do at exactly the right time. All prescribed by the Benefactor, of course.

D-503 had gotten sick early in the book. He had an incurable disease called a "soul". Doesn't that just suck for him?

When things do eventually get a little out of control, the Benefactor used propaganda to keep the problems from spreading and then prescribed a medical procedure whereby all the citizens could have their imaginations removed. Why? Well, this was the cause of the "illness" they had contracted of course. Then they lined up in droves to be cured by the Benefactor.

This was a fascinating read. No wonder it created a market for dystopian fiction novels every twenty years or so since.

05 September 2009

60. Screwball

Screwball - David Ferrell

I read this book because it is baseball season. I am a life long Red Sox fan and this book is about the Red Sox. Well, it is a novel about fictitious events, players, and characters that are supposed to be the Boston Red Sox.

This is one of those crime books that is looking to target a specific audience. Red Sox nation in this case. The story itself SUCKED! Being that it was the Red Sox is the only reason I did not throw it away. :-)

It seems that every player is a dysfunctional misfit with attitude and a total disregard for rules or normal behavior. The acting owner and general manager are way to willing to pay of huge extortion demands and cover up murders in order to win a world series. The coach is a bumbling old fool who wins by luck more than anything else. The retired player that was the greatest ever from Boston is just an egotistical ass.

Then there is Ron Kane...the rookie phenom. He can pitch, hit and play the field. He throws 112 MPH fastballs and fills the designated hitter spot on days when he is not pitching. 15-20 strikeouts per game is the norm. He is supposedly going to be the greatest player to ever put on a uniform. He has some serious personality flaws and is generally just a dick. The biggest problem is that he is a serial killer that beheads a fan in each town the club visits.

Blah blah...the cops end up catching him. Oh, and the Red Sox win the World Series for the first time since 1918 (the book was written in 2003).

I wrote what I wrote because there is no way any of you people reading this are going to pick up this stupid book.

I am only saying this one is OK because the Red Sox won the championship. If it had turned out otherwise I would have said I wasted my time. :-)