Thursday, April 28, 2011

Project 50 Restart: March

It's been nearly two months since I finished some of these books. Good thing I wrote down the reviews by hand then instead of now.

"The Eyre Affair" by jasper Fforde
I was given this book for Christmas, with a note that said "to be enjoyed in peace and quiet." I didn't manage to accomplish that , but I did read a lot of it during a day of 7 hours on trains. The novel is a literary detective story, set in an alternate 1985 where literature is such a big deal to the mainstream that there is a special branch of government intelligence to investigate literary crimes. One of these literary criminals plans to change the literary world by stepping into Jane Eyre and taking the heroine hostage.
I found that the actual plot took a backseat to the scathing literary humor. For example, my favorite part was when the main character goes out with her ex to see Richard III...performed in the style of Rocky Horror Show, with the audience shouting out lines and putting on sunglasses and dressing in costume. Ridiculous names like Braxton Hicks and Jack Schitt just add to the hilarity. It's great for the literary buff or ex English major. A

"Stardust" by Neil Gaiman
This was a read treat to read. Gaiman maintains a high fantasy effect not only by the story (half-Faerie boy goes in search of a fallen star to win the girl of his dreams) but by sticking to flawless high fantasy language. Reading it was like rolling around in magic and possibility. The only thing that I found difficult about it was having to follow three interwoven (but oh so masterfully woven) story lines, but the book was short enough that they came together quite nicely. A

"Good Omens" by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
I started reading this because it was a request by my partner in a reading craft swap. It's a complex but humorous story about the Apocalypse. Even though it was written by two authors, it's not really obvious where one stops and the other starts. I did feel that the book climaxed too early and left a lot of fussing around at the end. Mm, well, at least their later works were OK. B-

"The Sign of Four" by Arthur Conan Doyle
This was the second Holmes novel written by Conan Doyle. It begins (and ends) with Holmes in a depressed and drugged state, the dramatic opposite of his manic behavior when on a case. In walks Mary Morstan, who needs help solving the mystery of her long lost father. Someone has been sending her single pearls for some time, but it's unclear whether it is out of goodwill or as a threat. Somewhat awkwardly, Watson instantly falls for the woman, and spends the rest of the novel mooning over her. Holmes manages to pull together enough random clues to form the real story, involving India, prison, treasure, and murder. I loved the beginning and the end, and the rest of the story kind of paled in comparison, and still had the "after the fact" tell-all trope that is in other Holmes stories. B

"Pop Goes the Weasel: The Secret Meanings of Nursery Rhymes" by Albert Jack
We learn and cheerfully recite nursery rhymes as children and teach them to the next generation, never worrying about what they mean. But many of these poems and songs have history, some political, some medical, and some far too gruesome for children. This book is exhaustive. It covers a huge number of rhymes and cross references them to others that are connected by theme. i recommend this book to anyone interested in history or children's literature. A

1 comment:

Jack Goodman said...

Stardust and Good Omens are so good. If you have a chance and want to read more Gaiman and haven't yet I loved American Gods. Good Omens always reminded me of a funnier, secular version of The Screwtape Letters in some ways.