Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What I'm Reading Wednesdays: Aug. 31

For the WWW weekly blog meme.

What I've finished:

"Zone One" by Colson Whitehead: Whitehead trades chills for an overwhelming sense of dread in this novel about the years after Last Night, when an infection that turns humans into flesh-eating zombies hits the critical level, and civilization as we know it ceases. The main character, Mark Spitz (a nickname), recalls his past, mediocre B-student life and his struggle to survive after Last Night while he works in a sweeper team ridding lower Manhattan of straggling zombies. Whitehead kills suspense through a series of flash-forwards, but that's intentional; his point is not to build shock and horror but to pile on a feeling of dread and doom. In this, he succeeds, but to what end? Is this a parable for global warming (that's hinted at)? Is it a satire of humans trying to rebuild society (the new capital, Buffalo, claims that civilization is coming back and survivors are rising like a phoenix from the ashes)? Or is it a character study of a person who wields his mediocrity as a shield against zombie annihilation? I'm not sure, yet, but at least Whitehead concocts compelling characters amid the chaos and rot. This novel seems to be a companion to "Super Sad True Love Story" -- is this decade going to be one of irreversible decline and collapse? Maybe.

"Supreme Courtship" by Christopher Buckley: I listened to this one; Anne Heche is the narrator. This novel is pretty light satire of Washington, D.C. The novel follows TV judge Pepper Cartwright, star of a highly rated courtroom reality show, as a beleaguered, recalcitrant president nominates her to the Supreme Court. Buckley adds a whole series of personality and background oddities to Cartwright's character, including lightning strikes, the slaying of Lee Harvey Oswald and a televangelist dad. He kind of piles it on. But the novel is lightly likable, in a well-I'm-driving-and-it-beats-boredom kind of way, and the ending was actually rather suspenseful. Unfortunately, the narrative gets sidetracked into a vain senator's foray into playing "Potus" on a television series.

What I'm Reading Now: "The Magician King" came in from the library, and I have 10 days before it's overdue (a new policy with the Tuscaloosa Public Library), so I just dove in. So far, it's exciting and extremely puzzling. I'm glad I read the first one ("The Magicians") just a few weeks ago.

What I think I'll read next: Either back to "The Indian Clerk" or "All Families are Psychotic." Then for a book club, I need to read that new Sherlock Holmes as Justin Bieber novel and maybe either  "Midnight's Children" or "Age of Shiva."

1 comment:

LibrarySnake said...

I received Zone One also, and I have to get cracking on it :)

Here's mine: