Sunday, May 31, 2009

Project 50: May

“A Wind in the Door” by Madeline L’Engle
This is the second in the series after “A Wrinkle in Time.” Charles Wallace is ill because something is attacking his mitochondria, or the critters that give the mitochondria energy, which Mrs. Murry just happens to have discovered. What’s attacking them? Oh, the Devil. The story itself was a little too overtly religious for me, just with different names for the Devil and temptation and hell. Again, the action was not very action-y. Several pages of “You can do it! Come on, fight it!” “Oh, no I can’t!” “Yes, you can!” “No, I can’t!” “Well then someone has to!” Then it got near the end of the book and everything wrapped up quickly and they were all back in Kansas again. I was expecting a slightly different formula from the last book. C

“Douglas Adams’ Starship Titanic” by Terry Jones

Douglas Adams came up with a great computer game, and since it was Douglas Adams, the producers of the computer game thought that there should also be a novel to be released at the same time. Douglas Adams didn’t want to do it himself, so he enlisted the help of Monty Python’s Terry Jones, who agreed on the terms that he could write the book in the nude. It was funny enough, but I don’t think it does justice to Douglas Adams. My biggest issue was this sexual side story in which one of the women threw herself on an alien she’d just met in a moment of peril and they spend the rest of the story finding ways to add more gratuitous sex scenes to the book. Now, in Monty Python style, Jones does a self-referential bit that acknowledges the previous smutty chapter, but still, it’s rather distracting. B-

“Callahan’s Secret” by Spider Robinson

Spider Robinson insists that he did not write a trilogy. This was just his third and final book about Callahan’s Place. I didn’t read the middle book, but I don’t feel like I missed out on anything. This was less of a collection of short stories and more a whole novel of how a bar full of weirdo drunks saved the world. It’s intense and heroic and ends just the way it should. A-

“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran Foer
Like “Everything Is Illuminated,” this book goes back and forth in time, between the life of Oskar Schell, a nine year old boy whose father died in the September 11th World Trade Center attacks, and the lives of his grandparents, who had separated when she became pregnant with Oskar’s father. Oskar finds a key labeled “Black” in his father’s things a year after his death and sets to scouring the entirety of New York City to find the lock that it opens, and hopefully someone who knows something about his dad. I like this story because Oskar is such an oddball little kid, with hobbies like learning French and writing letters to famous researchers asking if they need an assistant, and who personally sends a cabbie his fare when he doesn’t have the money to pay it. Foer’s writing style is such that every little action, like writing down a name, seems magical and important to record. A+

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