Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Giant Books Post

In no particular order:

P.J. O'Rourke; Holidays in Hell. A great book, in which the esteemed travel writer travels to the crappiest vacation spots on earth, like Lebanon, South Korea (while it was under a military dictatorship), El Salvador, Nicaragua, and more. My favorite quote, descibing Communist Poland:
From bumpy landing until bumpy takeoff, you spend your time in Poland looking at bad concrete. Everything is made of it - streets, buildings, floors, walls, ceilings, roofs, window frames, lampposts, statues, benches, plus of the food, I think. Commies love concrete, but they don't know how to make it. Concrete is a mixture of cement, gravel, and straw? No? Gravel, water,and wood pulp? Water, potatoes, and lard?

Neal Stephenson; Snow Crash. A very geeky novel, full of comedic gold and geeky jokes. I think the single best/worst job of all time is there: delivery boy for the CosaNostra pizza. Haven't finished this one yet.

Chris Cutcher; Deadine. One of a very small number of Young Adult books I actually read. It's a complex and thought-raising but entertaining and readable novel. The premise is that Ben Wolf, a 'three-quarter-size' 18-year-old high school senior in Trout, Idaho (Pop. 943), learns he's going to die of an incurable 'blood disease' in under a year. he resolves several things: first, not to tell anyone; second, to live as normally as he can for a year; third, to give his closed-minded, overly conservative civics teacher a daily migrane, and fourth, to become the best 123-lb football player trout has ever seen. In the process, we meet a complex and entertaining bunch of characters: his utterly disfunctional parents, his therapist (who has a therapist of her own), his coach (who follows the principle of cardiac bulimia: run till the third guy pukes), the local drunk, who he attempts to clean and sober up, and Dallas Suzuki. 'amazingly perfect, fascinating Dallas Suzuki, who may or may not give ben the time of day. Really, she's first on his list.'
Alternatively side-splittingly comedic and deadly serious, it's one of the best works of fiction I've read in a while. I wish we'd read stuff like it in school. Better than To Kill a Mockingbird, for sure.

Christopher Hitchens; God is Not Great. It's one of the best arguments for atheism I've read in a while. It shows how religion has consistently fought every scientific and humanitarian advance, set civiliation back decades, caused most major wars, and more. He even lays down a convincing argument that religion can be considered organized child abuse. Not for those looking for a tongue-lashing of their favorite faith, but a very good book.

James Cobb; the Amanda Lee Garrett series. I've read the first, third, and fifth of five. It's a great series of naval thrillers set aboard the Cunningham, a stealth destroyer with every technological toy and weapons goodies, from over-the-horizon radar to dozens of missile and gun emplacements, to several Darkstar recon drones, to a Vertical Launch System with ASAT (antisatellite) capability. It's rather similar to the Arleigh Burke class destroyers, but with stealth and a few extra goodies; ironic given that her captain, the aforementioned Garrett, is described as 'Arleigh Burke in a skirt'. They're better than the average military thriller, and include great descriptions of the combat - like the Cunningham destroying multiple Argentine aerial attack waves - including shooting down a tanker with a helocopter, obliterating an entire convoy sent to destroy it, and damaging a nearly silent submarine. Juicy fiery weapons-grade goodness.

This post composed to the entirety of We were dead before the ship even sank by Modest Mouse.

1 comment:

Sascha Grant said...

Snowcrash is gold. I can't believe you haven't finished reading it! I think it would make a fab movie :)