Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Orphans of the Sky by Robert Heinlein

 

Continuing my sci-fi jaunt through the mesmerizing imagination and intelligence of Robert Heinlein. A marooned "generational spaceship" is a complicated mini-world where the diverse population has forgotten the reason for the original journey from Earth to a distant star system, and reverted to a primitive (if still high-technology) culture and belief system.

Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

 


Beyond the Bedroom Wall by Larry Woiwode

 

Astonishing and I'm only two chapters (100 pages in). A stunning opening where a son makes his father's coffin out of scratch.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Who I Am by Pete Townshend

 

A complex character. Rushed to read this after reading the infamous DEAR BOY autobiography of Keith Moon, who was certainly the heart and blood of The Who. But the astonishing songs, the soul of the band, are almost all Townshend's - and cover such a range from 1963 to 1978 as to almost beggar belief.


All these guys also grew up - and were navigating the end of the 1960s and early 1970s in their early 30s at best, barely matured in one sense, and having seen it all (and more) in another.

And what a band! The Who have been accurately described as a band with four lead soloists - and Moon's idiosyncratic wild and powerful drumming leads the way, along with Townshend's amazing melodic and rhythmic guitar, Entwhistle's foundational (and extremely melodic) bass playing ("Thunderfingers"), and Daltrey's central, powerful roaring voice.

Townshend's voice is strange - defensive, arrogant, slightly delusional (he invented the Internet, power chords, rock opera, among other things) - and his spiritual pursuits are foregrounded while his sexual mishaps are glossed over.

Still, an extraordinary musician and mind - the Beatles had three great songwriters, the Stones had two, but The Who had one, and they still stand in the same ring as those other greats of the pantheon. Dylan is different - he stands apart from any one band. The 1960s singles, The Who Sell Out, Tommy, Who's Next, and Quadrophenia are all five star albums. The Who played and stayed live in a way the Beatles never did.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

The Mark and the Void by Paul Murray

 

Meh, couldn't finish it. Big fan of Murray's but here it seemingly goes nowhere (at least after a hundred pages).

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein

 

Vivid memories of reading this as a teenager, I'm remembering complete sentences (at least in the first 50 pages, did I read the whole thing?).

It's got a bit of a cheesy late fifties-early sixties vibe, some of the slang and the general misogyny.

But Heinlein deftly imagines an interplanetary and advanced  future and how a human born and raised on Mars (by Martians) might be welcomed on earth. The concept of "grokking" (i.e., knowing fully, but also sexual consummating and cannibalism) was unleashed upon an unknowing America, and one must still only wonder at how many people have actually read the book as opposed to how many use the term "grok" fluently.

Too long and too polemical, the action really dries up in the (lengthy) middle of the book. Still, a fascinating novel of ideas.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Prophet Song by Paul Lynch

 

Not loving it so far - and don't understand why it's so critically beloved. Lynch's prose style is hyperconscious about protagonist Eilis's perception of physical micro-movements, and natural description is pregnant with metaphoric foreshadowing.

Maybe it will change and grow on me, I'm only a third of the way through.

Disappointing. Difficult slog as Lynch doesn't use paragraphs or quotation marks and prose bludgeoned me. Not that he is untalented -- and not that I wasn't moved in parts - but overall didn't care for it.

... and she can see that the world does not end, that it is vanity to think the world will end during your lifetime in some sudden event, that what ends is you life and only your life...

... and the prophet sings not of the end of the world but of what has been done and what will be done and what is being done to some but not to others, that the world is always ending over and over again in one place but not another and that end of the world is always a local event... [304]

Tuesday, January 02, 2024

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein

 

Great, surprising book. Mike the Computer alone is worth it, for Heinlein's witty fortelling of artificial intelligence. And the political discussion is bracing an intelligent, swirling around the Moon's struggle for independence from the Earth -- a lunar population  descended from convicts and conscripts banished from the mother planet -- the political discussion covers democracy, autocracy, libertarianism, and anarchy.

Dear Boy: The Life of Keith Moon by Tony Fletcher

 

Jammed with good details - particularly music, TV and film references -- but overwritten and I generally hate Fletcher's effusive and emotive and melodramatic prose.

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