Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The RoadThe Road by Cormac McCarthy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book for my book club. I knew two things going in, one that is had placed first in Entertainment Weekly's top 100 reads of the last 25 years and secondly I had heard by word of mouth the book was "dire".

I started the book last night, paused only to sleep, and finished it this morning. The book is an excellent read and you are unable to put it down once you start.

Sparse prose in a sparse world, the simplicity of the story is the hook. The journey you embark on with the main characters is so harrowing you can't look away.

Themes of the book reminded me of Steinbeck's East of Eden, the essence of humanity is laid bare, stripped to it's foundations, and consequently we think of life, of purpose, of our place in the world. A specific story made universal and something I'll carry with me always.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Cult of the Purple Rose: A Phase of Harvard Life by Shirley Everton Johnson ebook MOBI

This book was printed in 1902 and is available from Google for free here.  But while Google's pdf scan of the original is priceless, their MOBI version is a disaster.  They didn't edit the OCR, it's full of errors.

I cleaned up the MOBI file and you can get the good version here.

This is one of the first American books ever printed about Homosexuality.  A group of gay Harvard students starts a gay themed club with purple as the signifier. This book hasn't been re-printed.  So it's cool that Google provided the scan.

From Google "the story of a gay alliance at 1890s Harvard".

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The First Time: Five Short Stories by Alexander Goodman ebook MOBI

The First Time: Five Short StoriesThe First Time: Five Short Stories by Alexander Goodman

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


A poor book. While Mr. Goodman's other books are retro camp fun, this one all the stories except the first are way out there, set in alternate dimensions or using gimmicky plots, it's like he couldn't think of anything to write but had a deadline so cranked this out. Even the first story didn't really go anywhere.


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Monday, March 26, 2012

A Summer on Fire Island by Alexander Goodman ebook MOBI

A Summer on Fire IslandA Summer on Fire Island by Alexander Goodman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A fantastic piece of gay history, not to be missed by the gay history buff.

Think of this more as a non-fiction title, although there are fiction elements.  It perfectly paints a picture of a summer vacation on fire island in the mid 60's.

I love this kind of gay history stuff and there's details in here that blew my mind.  The book starts out describing how to get to the Island from New York City, what kind of things you'll find there, and goes in to the people, the parties, the bars.  The men were not allowed to dance together, to even LOOK at each other while they were dancing, so there would be 40 men in a line dancing, doing the Hulley-Gulley or the Madison.  Really, the book gets five stars for that description alone.

The book continues with photos from the period, to descriptions of the cruisey Meat Rack and the raids by police, along with what to expect when arrested.  The book ends with a call for tolerance of homosexuals.

The fictional aspect helps flesh out the story and makes it live. This book is a perfect time capsule of life on Fire Island and is required for any gay history buff.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Water for ElephantsWater for Elephants by Sara Gruen

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It was just okay. I don't know what all the fuss was about or why this book made so many book clubs lists. I was worried it was going to be full of sticky love scenes and it wasn't, which was good, but the main character, the narrator, I couldn't tell you his name right now if my life depended on it. He wasn't fleshed out, he pretty much only existed to show the circus.

I liked the circus aspects and the tales behind them and the photos from the circus archives scattered throughout the book, all these really added.

The problem was the story, it really seemed tacked on to give some substance to the circus anecdotes and I think it might have been better as a non-fiction book about circuses.

For example, I just read Natural Order by Brian Francis, and compare that portrait of a nursing home resident to this one and there is no compare - this one is as one dimensional as cardboard.

For what this story was, as I say, it was just okay. I would come down on just the other side of not recommending it, there are more books better worth your time.

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Monoceros by Suzette Mayr

MonocerosMonoceros by Suzette Mayr

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wasn't sure what to make when I started this book, and now that I'm finished I'm still not entirely sure.
The plot seems set for a teenage audience but the language and sophistication of the writing means it's for adults.
There were elements of the story I really liked, the black 50's guidance counselor, the gilted bixsexual (gay?) boy left behind, Santana from Glee up to her wicked tricks, the fact that the author named Ru Paul's biography as inspiration for the book.

Some other things I thought worked less well. The unicorn theme is all over the book, in the title, on the cover, etc, but I don't know that it really went anywhere and didn't intrigue me for one. The characters I felt could have been more drawn out. The reasons the boy killed himself we'll never now, they were barely touched on, the story of the drag queen and of the guidance counselor, both could have gone further. I think equal weight was trying to be given to all points of view, but some should have been left out. The principal who got in the car accident, I never connected with him for even one second, as an example.

I'm glad I read this book, I enjoyed parts of it, but overall the story wasn't fleshed out fully enough for me to totally recommend it.

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