Friday, July 31, 2015

after dark

After Dark is a novel by Haruki Murakami, whose work was suggested by my daughter. After reading this, I went to the library and took out a few more from Murakami to take on vacation. Turns out that I picked one off the shelf by another writer with a similar name, AND one from Haruki Murakami from the quick pick table, but quick pick is limited to two weeks with new renewal so I didn't get to that one. Maybe next time.

After Dark is a short, taunt novel which follows two characters who meet after recognizing one another as having mutual acquaintances, and end up spending parts of one long night together in the city.

With side trips to surrealism-town.

After dark reads like any hip, urban, character driven novel, but it seems a little sharper to me. I think that may be the altered perspective, but Murakami doesn't waste word either. And then--inexplicably--there are these chapters that slide away from the main plot to sub-plots, which are tied to the story, they just sort of... slide off the edge.

An' I'm all, wha?

But Murakami brings it all back, and the ending is satisfying, but leaves me knowing that the author has told me more than just a story. Given me more than just some interesting character studies of urban Japanese youth. More than just a glimpse at Japanese counter-culture.

What exactly, I'm not that sure. I'm not much of a deep reader I guess. I do know when I've been entertained, however. And I'm sure there are places you can read a review that will spell all that out for you; here its more about notes to myself about what I've read in the past, mainly so I don't buy the same book at a used book sale too often.

After Dark was translated by Jay Rubin.

Read this book.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

serpent of venice

Christopher Moore is a hoot. Funny, irreverent, smart, and dedicated to producing a great, wild story. I get the feeling that underneath his comic interior, he worries about the details of his books. The plotting, the characters, the continuity, all of it. He may even be a little neurotic at heart. He's the Woody Allen of Shakespearean, historic comedy novels. yeah, I said it

The Serpent of Venice: A Novel, by Christopher Moore returns us to the adventures of Pocket, the harlequin clad protagonist from Fool. I get the feeling when reading, that Pocket most nearly speaks as Moore wishes that he--or any of us--could; with absolute impunity to power.

The Serpent, as it sounds, is a riff on Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, with some other Shakespearean characters and plots thrown in to keep it interesting, along with some Edgar Allan Poe. Why, you might ask, does this story include not only multiple Shakespeare plays, but a dash of Poe, from a completely different era, as well? Why not?

Moore's willingness to look beyond the boundaries of a single inspiration, and combine these multiple sources with a storyline of his own devising is what, I think, sets him apart from other writers in the genre. Tom Robbins is the only other I can think of that I enjoy as much. Robbins doesn't seem to suffer like Moore does, but he has his own problems.

Read this book.

Friday, July 3, 2015

the heist

My wife is an endless source of joy. Not least of her wonders is her ability to crank through a novel in record time, so I almost always have stream of recently read books around to choose from, and she loves the spy novel. Because of this, I've read a bunch of Daniel Silva's books about Gabriel Allon, the hardened but thoughtful agent of Israel's secret service.

I haven't read everything in the Gabriel Allon series, but I have read a few of them. Silva doesn't shrink from using his novels as a soapbox to poke his finger in the eye of what he sees as the bad things in this world, and if anything, he seems to be poking a little harder as he gets older. Not only does the Syrian regime get some pretty heavy poking, but he's also thrown some others in there for good measure including Russia's burgeoning tsar. I get the feeling he'll get some more attention in an upcoming story (poke)

Silva takes us on a familiar romp. The story arc he favors has Allon reaching operational climax at about the mid-point of the book, so you know thing won't go as planned. The never do. Allon is first one to tell us that. What works so well is that well laid plans should work; seem like they will work, but then something unexpected happens and then its time to regroup and replan.

It was a fun one.