cdeuker

Reviews
More
The Black Echo

by

I'm a sucker for Michael Connelly books. Fast-paced, hard-bitten detective with a heart of gold underneath. "Somebody has to answer for Sharkey." Reminded me of Humphrey Bogart's "When your partner dies, . . ." in the Maltese Falcon. Vietnam War vet Billy Meadows turns up dead in a drainage pipe. Diamond heist, corrupt cops, femme fatale partner Ellie Wish. Great fun despite a too talky ending.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

by

The science, and the history of the science, is fascinating. Skloot is balanced in her assessment of the tricky question--do patients deserve to profit from "value" in their tissues/organs. On the one hand, it seems absurd that Henrietta Lacks (HeLa cells) are sold by labs for profit, and that none of the profit goes to the Lacks. On the other hand, exactly what value do the cells have absent the scientist? None. And those that rush to the position that the Lacks should be paid for the tissue would probably be appalled (and want laws) forbidding people to sell their own organs (think kidney transplant). Some sort of compromise is probably out there; perhaps a bit like Hollywood where some people are paid a small percentage of the gross as salary. If the tissue is of limited value, person gets a little money. But if it's a world-changer, then the 1% of millions will in fact matter. How's that for a good, pragmatic American? I found the descriptions of the Lacks family supremely depressing. Skloot does her best to ennoble them, but it did not work for me. Ignorant, violent, superstitious, locked in poverty. That the next generation seems to be headed in a better direction is terrific, but why do I fear an update on how they're doing twenty years from now?
Bad Money: The Inexcusable Failure of American Finance: An Update to Bad Money (A Penguin Group eSpecial from Penguin Books)

by

Okay, we're all going to hell in a handbasket. Oil, bad mortgage loans, banking system that is not transparent. The Euro or the Yen will replace the dollar as the currency of choice. Our standard of living is actually falling. Education doesn't really help. Gloom and doom. Maybe it's all correct, but somehow or other I believe USA will muddle through for a little while longer.
New York Dead

by

Gorgeous anchorwoman falls/is pushed out of a 62 story skyscraper and somehow (terminal velocity meet flying squirrel) survives for a little bit. Creepy failed doctor turned embalmer is one suspect. Co-anchor (jealous male) another. Someone is murdering cabbies; someone else is making Yuppies disappear. Stone Barrington, our hero, is getting it on and on with gorgeous, buxom sex machine Rachel (or was it Rebecca?) Already I can't remember. In the end--spoiler alert--it's gorgeous buxom Rachel who is the killer. Creepy failed doctor is also a killer. He is killing the Yuppies so that he can embalm them and set them up at a dinner party where they are young and beautful forever. Oh, and he steals body gorgeous anchorwoman, embalms her, and has her at the party. Did I mention that the anchorwoman is really a man? Or that the sex machine falls out a window, her husband says "My wife is dead!" and the cop replies, "Get used to it, Pal. She's New York Dead." So how does it get 2.5 stars? Well, it moved along
The Abysmal Brute

by

Pat Glendon is a natural man caught up in the corrupt world of boxing. A young reporter (female) enters his life and opens his eyes to the corruption he has missed. Pat fights one last bout, tells the world of the flaws of boxing, and then moves back into the wilds to live with his lady love. Tarzan/Jane a bit; a precursor to the Natural by Malamud, a return to Eden. Mostly great boxing fight scenes. Not really a book, far closer to a short story or maybe a novella. Set in SF. Pleasant enough(I didn't read the Swedish version, but it was the only version with a picture on the cover.)
Mr. Sammler's Planet

by

Okay, it's a little wordy at times, but any book that makes you as uncomfortable as this one is a great book. The subject is profound: meaning, purpose of life. The answers are all in the form of questions. Unflinching honesty. A great book.Bare plot: Sammler, holocaust survivor, leaves in New York on the charity of his only slightly younger nephew. Nephew has aneurysm of the brain and is dying. Eccentric daughter steals manuscript of Indian lecturer on H.G. Wells because she's convinced Sammler is writer a great book on Wells and could use it. Sammler sees black pickpocket on bus; said pickpocket sees Sammler seeing him. PIckpocket follows Sammler to hotel lobby and exposes himself to Sammler--sexual domination of the old man by the young man. Sammler tries to makes sense of this world and it's complexity, with some success and many failures. A true book.
Ann Veronica, a modern love story

by

Not quite as good as the History of Mr. Polly, but nevertheless well worth reading. I think of it as D.H. Lawrence light, not entirely a bad thing. Ann Veronica is looking for life with a capital L and is living in a world that offers women life with a decidedly lower case l. She rebels against her father, moves to London on her own, and then interacts with three men. Capes she loves, but he's already married (though unhappily, and wishes for divorce). Ramage would like A.V. as his mistress; he thinks he's rather obviously proposing and arranging this; she's too naive to see what he's up to. Sexual assault scene at a private restaurant is really well-written and gripping. Manning is the bland man in the middle, the husband her world would like her to take. She'd like to take him too, only she doesn't love him. A previous generation wouldn't have cared; Ann Veronica does care. The descriptions of living life to the fullest, of the value of love, etc. are Lawrence without the fire. Unlike Lawrence, they're never over the top--that's both their virtue and their flaw.
Can You Forgive Her?

by

Okay, I like Trollope as much as the next guy, but this one did get a little tedious. Alice is a pain in the neck; John Grey is too perfect (Helping out the scoundrel who steals his girl??? Come on!) But the redeeming qualities are there, too. George Vavasor is a wonderful villain. There are two great, shocking scenes: the fistfight with John Grey and then the encounter with sister Jane where he pushes her down and breaks her arm. Wow! I also liked Jane very much. A truly human person. Trollope also does things unheard of in Dickens. Characters make decisions--even the right (moral) decision--and then regret them within hours. Yes Yes Yes. I also liked the whole Greenow/Cheesacre/Bellfield subplot though others find it low brow. The book needed a little humor as Alice was, by and large, a stick in the mud. Now I can read more Pallisar novels and not be missing any background.(Oh, Lady Glencora is also a wonderful, fully developed character. Burgo Fitzgerald is the handsome neer do well who almost wins the girl.)I read this on Nook and listened to Timothy West on Audible. My question is: Had I not listened on audio, would I have ever finished a straight "reading" of the text? I wonder. Audio gets one through even the most boring parts effortlessly.
The Idiot

by and

This book is all over the place, but when it is good . . . it is great. The ending has an hallucinatory/dreamlike feel to it that is chilling. I read this long ago, had heard that Myshkin was Christ-like, so of course didn't respond to him at all. The "Christ-like" thing is true, but it's much more interesting than pure perfection. As a person constantly trying to do good, in fact, Myshkin in this messy world actually causes a lot of harm.
Middlemarch

by

Hard to describe feelings about this one. George Eliot is certainly one of the wisest writers of all time, but that's part of the problem. Reading this book is a bit like spending 40 hours with someone who is better than you in every single way. Her virtue wears on me. Dorothea is a little brutal too. Even her faults are, in their own way, virtues as they make her a 'more perfect' human. Lydgate story is far more interesting. So with all the criticism, why four stars? She writes beautifully and she is right about what we should aspire to be. If she only weren't so completely right all the time! Reading Dostoevsky's The Idiot now. It's for sure he's not right all the time--but the fireworks are amazing.
scribd