Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What I'm Reading Wednesday -- Nov. 2

For the WWW weekly Web meme:

What I finished:

John Dies at the End by David Wong: This humorous, occasionally scary and somewhat too long riff on the horror genre was based on a series of Web writings that the author forged into a novel. Sequels are promised. Wong is a pseudonym for Jason Pargin of, and this tale is pretty cracked. David and his friend John get hold of a seriously messed-up drug that wiggles around; the drug turns their brains into hypersensitive computers, allowing them to see into another dimension, which appears to be hell. Along the way they battle the agents of this hell in Vegas and in their unnamed Midwestern hometown, as well as David's own demons. Frequently funny, the novel has a great deal of scatological details I'd just assume skip, but otherwise it's a fun, Halloween-style read.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote: Yes, I'm 50, and I've never read this. So I listened to it in my car. You can see how the book nearly destroyed Capote -- he got much too close to the victims and the perpetrators, detailing their lives before, after and then during the famous murders of the Klutter family near Garden City, Kan. Just as you get to start liking the killers, Capote brings you up short with anecdotes about their past crimes and their rather cold feelings. What you get at the end is a sense of loss as wide and open as Western Kansas.

The Geographer's Library by Jon Fasman: I picked up this book from the remaindered table at Barnes & Noble, and I found it fairly disappointing. A reporter for a weekly paper in western Connecticut comes upon the suspicious death of a resident, who's also a professor at a college in Rhode Island. His investigations lead him into the circle of a group that seems to be reassembling objects stolen from an alchemist's house in Sicily in the 12th century. I normally like historical puzzles surrounding some supernatural object or book, but this one had too many odd, inappropriate details, characters who never came to life and a somewhat confusing setup. Eh. 

Digital Information Contexts: Another disappointing book about the possible meanings of information in the digital age. The author brings up hot literary topics -- semiotics, deconstruction, spontaneous order -- but fails to present ways in which these ideas could be applied to information theory or even set up possible research exploring those topics. 

What I'm reading now:

The Night Circus: So far, the story is moving very slowly, but it's entertaining -- Erin Morgenstern is in no hurry revealing the plot. Also, the narration keeps jumping back and forth through time, But I'm enjoying it. It's due back Friday, so I need to finish it.

The Marriage Plot: I'm listening to the audiobook. So far, the novel captures what it was like to graduate from a liberal-arts institution in 1982. Bleak. He gets one historical event wrong -- the Beirut barracks bombing was in 1983. Unless I heard the narration wrong. 

What I'll read next:

I'm going to choose among "Goliath" by Scott Westerfeld (although I'd like to hold out for the audiobook); City of Promise by Beverly Swerling; or The Museum of Innocence by Orham Pamuk.

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