Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Book Report: Seollal 2012

  • Operation Spider-Web by MH Sargent - Sargent has created an interesting team of CIA operatives who work, at least in this tale, third in the series, within Military Intelligence. Gonz, Heisman, McKay and Peterson seem to work together well, and I suspect their backstory is covered in a previous tome, but that doesn't matter so much compared to the current plot. And on that topic, I'm not sure I buy the initial story that gets the team involved in the operation that forms the focus of the book; but once they are in it, it is a gripping and realistic series of events. A fun, easy read for those who lkke battlefield action and intel subterfuge. It's an independent brought out on Amazon, Kindle-only.
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  • Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami - Slow-moving but carefully drawn and totally genuine characters, I would believe this is exactly what happened to Murakami in his youth except he emphatically denies it. It is a sad pair (or maybe even trio) of love stories told from the boy's POV in the Tokyo and environs of the late sixties. The student upheavals of those times form a sort of background, though no one in the action is a revolutonary--if anything, the action and drama is a counterpoint to their inability to act and move. Nonetheless, Murakami is able to paint a dynamic still life of four real people with Beatles music in the background.
  • Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart - This is without a doubt the strangest book I have read in quite some time. First off, it is set in an indeterminate near-future where people are largely known by their buying power (LNWI = scum = low net worth individuals), and their personal data is easily read on their apparati, personal information devices. The US as we know it no longer exists, it is the ARA or American Recovery Admininistration, and the Chinese National Bank is about to lower our credit rating. In this crazy world, Lenny Abramov falls in love with Eunhee (Eunice) Park, a slim, self-centered Korean girl whose father beats her and whose mother and sister tend to rely on Geejush to save them. Lenny is a flabby, thirty-nine year old of Ashkenazi stock who works for the megacorp that runs things, despite it being in a little-known branch whose job is indefinite life extension. If the author had replaced "True" in the title with "Weird" it would sell a million, at least in yuan-pegged dollars. Seriously, I would not miss this book if I were you!
  • The Weekend by Bernhard Schlink - Like The Big Chill, except the subject of the weekend together for old friends is still alive--he didn't die (as played by Kevin Costner in his most life-like role), but got released from prison. Jorg is a German terrorist who was convicted of the murder of four people nearly thirty years earlier, spending his first weekend of freedom at his older sister's country estate ; it's very talky, and even at that doesn't manage to explore the key issues to my satisfaction. As with The Reader, I started to like it better as it went on, but I was still left wanting, though I must say the sparks between Henner and Margarete pleased me.

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