Read Books This will provide a list of the books I've read with a brief review. Users are blocked, contact me for access. I welcome discussions, but I'm tired of spam.

April 23, 2012

The Lacuna: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver

Filed under: Fiction — Randolph @ 2:13 pm

The Lacuna: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver

 From Latin lacūna (“ditch, gap”), diminutive form of lacus (“lake”).

lacuna (plural lacunae or lacunas)
1 A small opening; a small pit or depression; a small blank space; a gap or vacancy; a hiatus.
2 An absent part, especially in a book or other piece of writing, often referring to an ancient manuscript or similar.
3 (microscopy) A space visible between cells, allowing free passage of light.
4 (linguistics) A language gap, which occurs when there is no direct translation in the target language for a lexical term found in the source language

The story is about a writer by the name of Harrison Shepherd, and how he experiences history. He has an American father and a Mexican mother, the first portion of the book takes place in Mexico. His first “lacuna” is the discovery of a cave off the coast that leads to some bones, it hints at an early interest in Aztec history. His first experience with history happens when he has an opportunity to mix plaster for Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. He becomes a cook for Trotsky, here he encounters the Russian Revolution and relates that to the reader through the eyes of Trotsky.

Frida sends him to the US to escort some paintings. Here he finds his father. Through Harrison’s eyes, we see the wars, politics, and finally McCarthyism.

The book is told in vignettes, mostly part of Harrison’s diary. some of these stories are good, some are not. They are glued together by general references to events in his past, but this breaks up the flow of the book. It didn’t have the feel of a real diary. Although the books span a lot of the 20th century, but the style doesn’t change with Harrison’s learning, age, or stresses in his life.

My summary demonstrates my feelings about the book. Harrison is a passenger through history and a storyteller. Nothing more. He doesn’t seem to make his own decisions, the events happen to him and he reacts, little more. I did find some of his experiences as a writer to be of interest, and his tribulations in the McCarthy period.

I don’t understand the vast interest in this book. It is well written, but not interesting enough for me to recommend.

April 9, 2012

V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton

Filed under: Fiction,Mystery — Tags: — Randolph @ 8:23 pm

V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton

This is the 22nd book in the Kinsey Millhone Mysteries. The books are holding up, but the setting is lagging behind real time. The book mostly takes place in 1988, starting for Kinsey when she notices a small-time shoplifter. In the typical Grafton style, Kinsey gets wrapped up in the events and must look into things. The shoplifting leads her into a big-time racketeering ring.

I have two complaints about the book, first is that Sue Grafton is moving the series away from traditional mysteries. Starting with the previous book, U is for Undertow, it seems to be moving more toward adventure, as the reader knows so much more about the crime than Kinsey does. The book wanders through three different plots that ultimately intertwine. But the reader cannot play detective and try to solve it as Kinsey does.

The second issue is that Kinsey neglected to check surveillance tapes from the scene of the initial shoplifting. Although she had reason not to be interested in them initially, events changed and she seemed to forget about them for too long. It was a plot device to help build suspense, but in my opinion, was inappropriate. This did not detract from the enjoyment of the book.

Overall, it is an enjoyable book and left me looking forward to the next installment.

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