Railsea, China Mieville
More good stuff from Mieville. Again I can see some folks not liking his stuff because of the suspension of disbelief required and breaking of convention that he loves to use. To me that makes it all better. Much of the time when a book builds suspense and it looks like there's going to be a big reveal at the end it just doesn't pan out. I as myself quite often with television and book series, can they end this well? What sort of ending would be satisfactory? More often than not I can't see any ending being up to the task. Some authors embrace this, think of the ending to Sopranos (which I haven't seen, but I know how it ends) some just fail, think of any series by Orson Scott Card. Mieville actually pulls it off. The end is sufficient to satisfy the buildup. That's a rare book.
Teachings on Love, Thich Nhat Hanh
I saw this at the library and picked it up. Then I put it down. Then I picked it up again. I think you can guess why: the title. It is not a very masculine title. It would be easy to feel self-conscious about carrying this one around. Not only am I reading a book about religion, but it has love in the title. I can't speak for everyone, but I think that in the culture I was raised in it is usually frowned upon for men to talk about love. I remember after going to a funeral for a good friend's father my friend told me, “When you get home tell your father that you love him.” She was very serious and sincere, but I didn't do it. Why? Because I was self-conscious about it. Well, the fact is I do love my father and I shouldn't be afraid to say so. I love you dad! There, I finally said it (well if writing counts) more than ten years later.
So, on to the book. This book is about love and love is about communication and understanding. Communication is the difficult part, at least for me (see above paragraph). Actually the understanding part probably comes down to communication too. After all how can we understand anything or anyone if we aren't willing to talk about it. I've had a few problems with this. With being self-conscious and unsure of myself. Afraid that people won't like me if they don't know me. Of course this is self defeating. If people don't know me they won't like me. Or at least they won't like me for who I am. Hold on. Here I am talking about love and using the word like. Is that fair? Man there's a lot of social baggage on that word 'love'.
Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz
This was the 'It' book a few years ago. All nerdly and literary. It got great reviews and I can see why, but I didn't like it. Much of the praise for the book revolved around it's use of nerd/geek references. Unfortunately, as I read it, those references serve only to highlight the main character's (Oscar's) immaturity and naiveté. Imagine that, geek references used to put someone down. Oscar is described as a fat nerd and is constantly trying to "get some" with awkward Star Trek inspired pick-up lines. It's embarrassing and disappointing. If you want magical realism read Marquez. If you want a Carribean story read Gaiman's Anansi Boys. If you want geek culture read Ready Player One. Maybe I didn't get this book. I'd be happy to be wrong about it. Feel free to tell me why this book is better than I thought.
Knuckler, Tim Wakefield
I can't say why exactly I picked this one up. I had it written down as a book I was interested in, but I can't for the life of me figure out why. It's a pretty strange book, the first autobiography written in the third person that I've read. I suppose that's a nod to the fact that Wakefield didn't write it. A sportswriter did and it shows. It reads like a list of games scores and statistics. We never get to know Wakefield. He gets married has kids and devotes his free time to charities all with the vaguest of references. It's not at all like Andre Agassi's autobiography Open. That is a great book. Wakefield seems like a nice guy, a peacemaker, a team player, but unless you are a rabid Red Sox fan don't bother with this one.