Sunday, August 28, 2016

Beach reading roundup

Neal Stephenson, Seveneves. Stephenson's Snow Crash and The Diamond Age explode with energy, creativity, vivid characters, and dark humor. Both are great reads from beginning to end. Seveneves lacks every single redeeming feature of those books. It is derivative, tedious, humorless, and endless. I gave up long after I should have... several hundred pages into this deep pile of crap.

Elena Ferrante, My Brilliant Friend. Recommended by my colleague MK... along with everyone else. It is a fine novel: wonderful storytelling, psychologically astute... and the translation is exceptional.

John LeCarre, A Call for the Dead. His first, introducing George Smiley. I've read it a couple times, and though it was not my first Smiley novel (nor my favorite*), it would be the best place to start. It is a perfect suspense novel, and more.

Attica Locke, The Cutting Season. A whodunit featuring a charismatic single mom protagonist and an atmospheric mis-en-scène on a restored Louisiana sugar plantation. I picked it up from the hotel bookshelf for the flight home from Kauai. There are times when our hero Caren Gray makes decisions that are not as smart as she is, and the villains are a bit one-dimensional, but overall it is a fine escape with a deftly handled element of American racial history that doesn't insult your intelligence or standards.

* That would be Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

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