Daily Archives: July 22, 2011

Off the Shelf: What I’ve Been Reading


The nearest town, 15 miles away, has started a library, so I paused in my various re-readings off my own bookshelves to check out library books.   I was familiar with some of the authors I began with, but it had been a long time since reading them.

Elmore Leonard–  I ran through a plethora of his books in a short time.. everything the library had.  I’ve never read a book by the man I didn’t like, whether it’s the westerns he began with, or the detective stories that later became his tour de force.  I recommend him to anyone in danger of doing some light reading.  However, I came across one that’s unlike any Elmore Leonard I’ve ever read.  The Touch.  Those of you into metaphysics and healing would probably find it of interest.  It’s the best handling of the stigmata phenomenon, guru-ism, and commercial evangelism that I’ve ever read.

Rudolpho Anaya– This guy came highly recommended by the librarian.  Sorry, folks.  I came away thinking some editor somewhere dropped the ball on the three books I checked out.  Loose sloppy writing, wordy, rambling.  I suspect editors are a lot more forgiving of ethnic writers  and mooshy metaphysical gawdawful rambling flashbacks these days than when I dealt with them as a writer.  150 pages of Rudolpho Anaya would have benefited by a lot of cutting and brutal rewriting, and still ended up with maybe 75 pages worth the time.  Maybe.

Nevada Barr– Never heard of her, but I thought I’d give it a try.  Checked out three books, made it twenty-five pages into one and declared, “No more!”

Elizabeth M. Cosin– I check a couple of these out because the first one was named Zen and the City of Angels.  I’m willing to try what I don’t know, and the name of the yarn brought back pleasant memories of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  Checked out two.  Score, zero-two.  They’ll go back in hopes someone else can struggle through them.

Poul Anderson– checked out The Stars are Also Fire because I recall liking Anderson’s work several decades ago.  The Boat of a Million Years comes to mind.  It was a fine work.  However, this Stars are Fire piece seems to me to be the work of a person who needed to smoke some weed to get his mind back, or a manuscript written early in his career, a dead turkey no publisher would touch by an unknown writer, dragged up out of the files and published as a pot-boiler hack to raise grocery and whiskey money, riding the name of the later, more competent Poul Anderson.  I’m 67 pages into it, debating with myself whether to drop the effort and read some William Soroyan off my own shelf until I get back to the library tomorrow.

I’d like to point out to you that the sentence-before-the-last in the previous paragraph is five lines long.  Count’em.  Five.

No good writer would put a sentence that long on a page where some poor human might read it.

Old Jules
Reading Increases the Imagination:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeUid2rv848

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