Monday, May 4, 2009

Project 50: April

“I Sing The Body Electric” by Ray Bradbury
This is the first collection of unconnected Bradbury stories I’ve read. Reading them put me in this happy, dreamlike, “anything could happen” state. Once I started reading the title story, I recognized it as an episode of the Twilight Zone that I’d seen. I think my favorite story was the one about the men who come to visit Ireland, but the effect of the story when reading it depends on me saying no more. A

“When the Music’s Over” edited by Lewis Shiner

My coworker slipped this into my box with a “read and return” sticky note. It’s an anthology of stories against war and violence. I think the editor contacted a bunch of authors and told them the premise and let them have at it. They aren’t at all pastoral stories about a society of love and peace; some of the stories are totally terrifying, and they do contain violence, but in a way that shows how horrible and unnecessary it is. Most of the stories are futuristic or set on other planets, so the whole book has a sci-fi bent to it that I like. A

“A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeline L’Engle
I had not read this book since I was about 8 or 9 years old. I think I did a book report on it back then. I got really caught up in reading it because the heroes are genius oddballs and they go on a fantasy adventure and the language is rich and descriptive and challenging enough for an adult. Looking back on the story as a whole though, I think it was a little too simple. There’s a mystery to be solved, good fights evil, good wins within a few pages and it all gets wrapped up rather quickly, as if the author had a word count limit that she wasted back when the characters were fighting over who would go back to save Charles Wallace. I think there are more books in a series after this, so I’ll have to see if there’s more to this story. B

“The Way We Never Were” by Stephanie Coontz
One of my college roommates had to read this for a class, and one day she read some out loud to me. It sounded interesting enough, but it really wasn’t. The author sets out to prove how different actual life in a couple of “golden ages” compared to the idealized version, where mothers didn’t work, but stayed home with the children and fathers were able to support an entire suburban family. The reality was that a very small fraction of the population lined up with that model, but what I didn’t like about this book was that it was about 300 pages of statistics which only proved that some, but not all, of her students “Leave it to Beaver” dreams of the past were real. This book could be summed up with “Yes, but not as much as you’d think.” I guess it was assigned in a college class for a reason. C+

“Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon” by Spider Robinson
My coworker is getting good at lending me books I like. I would describe these stories as “Cheers, but with weird visitors.” Callahan’s is a bar where people come, Jake the narrator says, because they’ve got some kind of hurt that they need to share. These people include time travelers, immortals, alien androids programmed to destroy Earth, and the like. The regulars at Callahan’s don’t usually offer solutions, just support, a non-judgmental ear, and a toast followed by pitching one’s glass into the fireplace. Sounds pretty good. A-

1 comment:

Caleb said...

Glad you liked the Bradbury collection. Pretty much all of them are good, but his most recent ones aren't quite up to par. I really like "The Toynbee Convector." It has some good ones in it.