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Catching up on booktalk: Louis L'Amour, Neil Gaiman and more

CoverThe librarians are probably wondering what happened to me, this weekend i renewed books from one library online, and returned some others after hours at their drop box. I'll have to stop in sometime during the week, just for kicks. Here's what made it from the "out of control to be read pile" to the "finished reading, or am reading right now pile":

Iron Council, by China Mieville
Sackett's Land, by Louis L'Amour
Artificial Light by James Greer
Unintended Consequences of Constitutional Amendments, edited by David E. Kyvig
American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

thoughts on the above:

Iron Council - omg, loved it, see my review on the main page.  Simply put, Iron Council is about a railroad worker's strike, and as city dissidents are inspired by them, the city government fears and wishes to destroy them. but of course, that's not what the story is really about.  I love Mieville's take on criminal justice, human rights, and just his commentary on society in general.  as i mention at the end of my review, this is not a book for those who are satisfied with the status quo. but if you're not so satisfied? give Iron Council a try.  My favorite Mieville novel ever is The Scar, and this one comes in second. As Goto Dengo is Neal Stephenson's most honorably tragic character, Judah Low is Mieville's.  Mieville may have his faults, but i keep coming back to him, so he's go to be doing something right. 

Sackett's Land, by Louis L'Amour - the opening novel in L'Amour's grand series of the settling of America by immigrants, this novel was just Okay.  Set in 1599, Englishman Barnabas Sackett gets into some trouble and can choose possible death, or the New World.  guess which he chooses.  Honestly, I found most of the novel simplistic and contrived, but I'm hoping L'Amour did a lot of that on purpose, to quickly and easily set the stage for a series that now has over 30 novels in it, following a handful of immigrant families.  I'm not going to say this was a good book, but I like L'Amour's style, I was able to finish the book in 3 days, and I do want to read the next few books in the series, because I'm interested in early American history and can't say know to a nicely written historical novel.

Artificial Light by James Greer.  eh, it's going back to the library unfinished.  Taking place in Ohio in the early 90's,  this is the diary of a young woman named Fiat Lux who meets Kurt Cobain and feels responsible for his death.  I didn't start listening to Nirvana until  maybe 5 years ago (after I realized the guy from Foo Fighters came from Nirvana, actually), but I respect their musical style, and it's too bad about Cobain.  it's also too bad that this book really isn't that interesting. Most of what I read was just Fiat's internal monologue about this and that and the other thing, with minimal details, and it just didn't grab me.

Unintended Consequences of Constitutional Amendments, edited by David E. Kyvig -  Wow, what a title!  and a collection of surpriseingly fascinating essays on constitutional amendments that were designed to do good things, but did some not so good things as well. the road paved with good intentions, eh?  Beyond the Bill of Rights, many newer amendments that were designed to help people and make their lives easier just ended up pitting faction against faction, increasing government beaucracy, and making things way more complicated and political that needed. I could seriously write a full review on each essay, but isn't this a fiction blog?  anyway, I'll be searching out more essays written by some of these same folks.

American Gods, by Neil Gaiman.  ahh, the perennial favorite. When i'm staring at my bookshelves, looking for something satisfying to read, i know I can always grab a Gaiman, and life will be good.  I've read this book before, so I kind of know what to expect, but I forget what happens at the end.  Shadow, recently released from prison to find his wife killed in a car accident, is "hired" by a mysterious Mr. Wednesday, who takes Shadow to meet his mythical friends. This is Gaiman's take on Gods and sprites and mythologies that immigrants brought with them from the old country. but as those immigrants aged, and children and died, what happened to the memories of the old gods?  and what about the new American Gods, television, money, technology?  I'm halfway through the novel and loving every page.



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