Over on the right sidebar of this blog, I keep an running update on what I’ve watching and reading, or watched and read. Lately, some readers have asked how I’ve enjoyed a few of the titles that grace those respective lists…
Friday, by Robert Heinlein
Strong mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, I really like the world Heinlein has created here with corporate players, conspiracies, balkanized U.S., and strange but completely logical family units. On the other hand, the author has his fairly well developed and believable character make some highly questionable choices, the most ridiculously outrageous being her decision to forgive and marry one of the men who raped her at the beginning of the novel. An interesting albeit incohesive story about belonging and what makes us human – undone by a truly horrible ending.
My friend Carl claims he “doesn’t have the zombie gene” and, as a result, can’t enjoy zombie movies or shows. Conversely, I suspect that I don’t have the mystery gene because, try as I might, I just can’t seem to get into the genre. I’ve tried, checking out a dozen highly recommended titles and I’ve yet to be wowed. This latest is a fine book. It would simply seem that I’m not a mystery guy.
An upscale party in a South American country is crashed by rebels who take the guests hostage. Demands are made, time passes, and relationships form. It’s an interesting premise that doesn’t quite live up to its potential, ultimately undone by characters who never really acquire genuine depth.
The author of Fight Club offers up a collection of truly unsettling short stories, some poems, and bizarre running through-line involving a demented writers’ workshop that left me cold. But those stories! Like most collections, there are hits and misses, but those that hit will stay with you – like the first tale, Guts which, according to Palahniuk, has caused grown men to faint during public readings.
Now this one I loved! In the not too distant future, scientists discover a cure for aging. “Immortality, however, comes with its own unique problems-including evil green people, government euthanasia programs, a disturbing new religious cult, and other horrors.” Brilliant!
A Davinci Code for the literary crowd, it’s a novel filled with puzzles, global conspiracies, and code-breaking software applications. Ultimately, the mystery at the heart of the book, less “life or death” and more nefarious book club goings-on, failed to capture my interest.
The seventh installment in the ongoing series revolving around a cibopathic federal agent capable of receiving psychic impressions from whatever he tastes. I like it because it’s unique. There’s nothing quite like it out there. Of course what makes it unique, particularly some of its over-the-top elements, make it extremely challenging to translate to the small screen – which was something producers looking to do just that presumably realized. The series took a bewilderingly dark turn a couple of volumes back and I’m not sure I like it. No, scratch that. I’m sure I don’t like it.
Now a major motion picture! That quickly came and went. I checked this book out, a translation of the international bestseller, because it shares some elements with a project I’ve been working on. Given the fact that the author is Italian, I’m surprised the mob world isn’t more grounded and believable. Instead, it feels like the research materials for this book were comprised of old gangster movies.
Doubt, by Yoshiki Tonogai
I’ll readily admit that I picked up this manga on the basis of the creepy-looking cover alone. While the set-up is interesting (a group of teens wake up in an abandoned building where they become unwilling participants in a game of cat and mouse – or, more appropriately, rabbit and wolf), the series falls victim to the same issues that bedevil most anime and mangas: suspect logic and developments that stretch credulity.
To be honest, while I liked Seinfeld when it was on the air, I didn’t love it. But I do now, having a whole new appreciation for the show after re-watching its first four seasons. Sure, some of the fashion and technology may be a little dated, but the humor is as dead-on now as it was twenty years ago. It’s not all that surprising to note that most of the best episodes were written by Larry David.
I heard it described as “The U.K. version of Twin Peaks” – clearly by someone who never watched Twin Peaks. It’s a fairly straightforward limited mystery series with the added bonus of some terrific performances headlined by David Tennant. His character is great. Unfortunately, the mystery at the heart of this miniseries isn’t. There’s no real progression to the whodunit, merely a bunch of random red herrings scattered throughout. Rather than build to a reveal or through our lead detective’s sleuthing, the answers are simply offered up by happenstance: a critical piece of evidence in the latop and, ultimately, the identity of the killer who essentially gives him/herself up. Odd.