April 2009

Author Rating: A

Slaughterhouse Five

Although I remember reading a number of Vonnegut’s books back in the mid 1970s, I am not sure that I read this one. I know that I picked it up in about 1985 but didn’t get far. Don’t let my example dissuade you from giving it a go, however. By that time I was completely spoiled by the movie adaptation released in 1972.

Altstadt, Dresden, seen from the Ministry of War, Saxony, Germany, between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900

Altstadt, Dresden, seen from the Ministry of War, Saxony, Germany, between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900

The screenplay by Stephen Geller could not have been better and the casting was inspired — Michael Sacks is Billy Pilgrim and who could be a more perfect Montana Wildhack than Valerie Perrine?

Even Vonnegut thought well of it:

“I love George Roy Hill and Universal Pictures, who made a flawless translation of my novel Slaughterhouse-Five to the silver screen … I drool and cackle every time I watch that film, because it is so harmonious with what I felt when I wrote the book.”

Here’s a link to the official Vonnegut website.


Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami

Author Rating: B

To Say Nothing of the Dog (read 8/2/07) Recommended

Doomsday Book (read 8/13/07) Recommended

Both of these novels are well done in a genre (“popular fantasy”) which is overrun with bad writers. Both involve time travel, have good internal consistency, characterization and pacing, and reasonably compelling story lines.

Author Rating: C

The Man Who Killed Shakespeare (read 3/23/08) Meh

The cover blurb declares Hodgson “the most demented writer since Carl Hiaasen.” I would profoundly disagree.

Hodgson’s writing is not bad, just not executed to the high standard one would expect with such a comparison, or without it. The best I can say is that it is readable if no better options are available.

Author Rating: C

Lord Peter (read 11/4/07) Meh

This is a collection of Sayers’ “Peter Wimsey” short stories. It is vaguely reminiscent of Wodehouse in terms of its Edwardian English setting and characters. The stories are reasonably well done but a little too clever and with an over reliance on coincidence enabling Wimsey to solve the crime.

There is better early crime fiction.

Author Rating: B

The Hacker and the Ants (read 5/07) Recommended

Jerzy Rugby is set up to take the fall for a giant cyberconspiracy. Can he discover who’s behind the computer virus ants invading the internet and clear his name?

Spaceland: A Novel of the Fourth Dimension (read 5/07) Recommended

Very funny, well written story about a product manager for a Silicon Valley startup company who discovers that an experimental device he has brought home to play with is a door into another dimension.

As Above, So Below: A Novel of Peter Bruegel (read 7/20/12) Recommended

What an absolutely delightful, engaging historical fiction novel about the 16th Century Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Much of the story is surmise on Rucker’s part little but the rough outlines of Bruegel the Elder’s life and paintings remains, but Rucker does a credible job bringing the man and his world alive.

Author Rating: A

1984 (listened Recorded Book 3/07) Recommended

This indeed is not for the faint of heart. I cannot recommend the AudioBook version strongly enough. It is wonderfully read by Frank Muller.

You can listen to it streaming on the internet here.

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