Sunday, April 22, 2012

What I'm Reading

  • I Have the Right to Destroy Myself by Kim Young-ha - There is a lot of sex in this novel, nost of it unfulfilling--a literary device to represent the unfulfilling lives of the characters. The shadowy, unnamed narrator of the tale helps people commit suicide; no blood on his hands, just advice. He finds his clients through a simple want ad: "We listen to your problems." After a completed assignment, the narrator rewards himself with a trip abroad, and so he is in Vienna, then Venice as the story of two brothers, C. amd K. play out with their unfulfilled love interests, Mimi and the girl who looks like Judith in a Gustav Klimt painting.
  • A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley - This is the third Flavia de Luce novel, and it was a fine read without reference to the previous two, narrated by the precocious Flavia, an 11-year-old girl living with her perpetually bereaved father and two older sisters on decaying manorial estate in the British countryside, post-World War II. Riding her trusty Dunlop named Gladys, Flavia has a knack for encountering crime, and within the first several pages, an aged Gypsy fortune-telling clings to life, and a local ne'er-do-well is found skewered on Poseidon's trident of a fountain in a rarely-visted garden of Buckshaw, the de Luce estate. Good mystery and great atmosphere.
  • Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich - This true story of the MIT "card-counting" team, reads like a thriller. Gambling for profit, anyone knows, is for fools--but these super-bright Asian kids from one of America's top universities weren't fools. They weren't even gamblers, and they'll hasten to point out they weren't cheaters either: cheaters contrive somehow to alter the conditions or the outcome of the game, and frankly that's what the casinos do--the blackjack teams were only taking advantage of statistical probabilities inherent to the game of blackjack. Author Ben Mezrich details the involvment of Kevin Lewis in the high stakes world of Vegas players from his initiation into the team from Boston until things fall apart once facial recognition technology makes the game too dangerous in the late nineties. But in the meantime, the team earned hundreds of thousands or more per month on weekend forays into the '21' tables of America.
  • Without Warning: After America by John Birmingham - Okay, so this is the second part of a trilogy (with part 3 hopefully being released as i speak), which may explain some of my initial confusion--but even reading the first book would not help too much, as the "energy wave" that obliterates about 1/3 of the earth's population remains unexplained at the end of the second one. The Wave happened in 2003, so you can see this is an alternate history, but it has intriguing aspects, and some of the plotlines it follows (there are about six) are engrossing. I hope "Angels of Vengeance" is an adequate follow-up!
  • Gasoline, Texas by Joseph Flynn - Fast-moving, eccentric character-laden tale of LBJ's rumored love-child, Ladbrook "Laddy" Johnson, who grudgingly became a Hollywood stuntman before returning to his hometown of Gasoline, Texas to run for mayor against town big-wig Edwin (Win-Win) Winslow. Unfortunately, Win-Win dies of a heart attack before the votes could be counted, the rich oil fields that gave the town its name have been looted by Win-Win and half the power structure of the county, and mega-movie star Joanna Wells is having second thoughts about their nuptials, after seeing Laddy in a compromising situation with Win-win's long-lost daughter Hayley, who has been off assassinating people for the federal government, and only returned for her father's funeral. Sound like a fun read? Yep!
  • The Concrete Inquisition by Joseph Flynn - Chicago cop "Doc" Kildare recently lost an eye during a shootout with Armando Guzman, local drug kingpin, and has put in a claim for 15 million dollars, his share of the ill-gotten gains confiscated in the Guzman roust, pursuant to Illinois code. The Chief of Police doesn't cotton to the idea and looking for a way to sideline Doc--permenantly. As is Guzman and his lawyer cousin Hector. As is an unknown serial killer, who seems to have "disappeared" a neighborhood mentally challenged boy. Meanwhile, Doc's ex-wife Harry (short for Harriet) wants back in the picture, possibly not because of the impending 15 mil pay-off. Another well-plotted pageturner from Flynn with some interesting characters.


Charles Montgomery said...

That first book may be Kim's best. If you want to hear me talk about it, check out Arirang International Radio this Friday at 7pm.

It was translated into a ton of languages..

Tuttle said...

Very cool, Charles!

Tune in, friends and neighbors!