It seems that most responses to this novel focus on the close, careful characterization of its singular protagonist. I was also impressed by this aspect, but perhaps most enjoyed the construction of the space of the American West and the evocation of the experience of moving with uncertain direction. I don’t know that it’s correct to say that I ‘enjoyed’ reading this—it is austere and brutal throughout—but I am certainly glad that I did.
I listened to this as an audiobook over the week that I moved us out of our house in Gent. I found that it worked very well in that format; Weatherford does a good job of maintaining a narrative momentum without abandoning analytical context completely. The central goal is to rescue the reputation of the Mongols—and particularly the court of Genghis Khan—from Western portrayals that would condemn them as barbarians. New to me was Weatherford’s notion that the source of these portrayals was not actually contemporaneous with the Mongol khans, but a reaction to the abuses of Tamerlane and Europeans’ conflation of these Timurids with the Mongols.
I had only seen the 1965 Richard Burton film adaptation of this. I think the visual medium of film helps remind one of the time of its creation in a way that requires a bit more active attention from the reader of the novel. Regardless of context, it is a tight, brutal spy novel. But the moral ambivalence of its main actors is relatively pat today in a that makes it difficult to remember how shocking it might have been for a lot of its readers at the height of the Cold War. It feels a bit silly to go on about this one. Of course I’ll continue to read John Le Carré novels. It’s a bit weird it’s taken me so long to get to this, one of his most, if not the most, notable.
I picked this up pretty quickly after the first one. It’s more of the same as the first installment (in a good way). If anything, I think the kinks of translating the live-play podcast format into a graphic novel have been worked out, making me enthusiastic for the third installment coming next year.
This history of the development and reception of NBA Jam is actually a very good case study in how the technical characteristics of a platform can define design decisions. Not overly concerned with framing things theoretically, Ali provides a pragmatic demonstration of the approach demonstrates of the effect of the medium and technology on the aesthetics and experience of the game. Personally interesting to me was to realize in a way that I could not have at a time that as a 13 year old when the game was released I was watching an epochal media transition that would define my teenage years.
Recently I have been trying to read a bit more long fiction instead of letting myself knock off quick comics reads. I saw this on the recommendations table at the library, though, and can’t pass up a Sean Philips and Ed Brubaker collaboration. Though short, it hardly qualifies as ‘light’. I found it to be a compelling and economical character study of a person struggling with the intrinsic rewards of their work and the external pressures of their legacy.
I still intend to read Kerr’s Berlin trilogy of detective novels, but when my dad dropped his paperback of this with me after his Thanksgiving visit, I picked it up. It was a good thriller with very effective pacing. The work with historical setting makes me look forward to reading those Berlin novels, even though the particular setting of political intrigue in FDR’s cabinet, the Nazi regime, and several WWII-era national intelligence services was of less immediate interest to me personally.
This the first Tom Robbins book I’ve ever read. I have the sense that he’s a bit polarizing. I think the people that don’t like him think his maximalist prose is evidence of a lack of care or discipline. I think I disagree; I think his swirling paragraphs and metaphors and digressions are too frequently exhilarating or funny to be an accident. I don’t think a writer could ride the wild omnidirectional contradictions of character and motivation in everyone involved in this story without an extreme amount of care. I have only ended up here, however, after a very slow start when I found all the layering and breathlessness and bouncing energy a little overwhelming. To use language the protagonist Switters might, I found it all a bit too vivid. I think that this was an accident of personal timing, though—the fault of reading it during a huge crunch period with work. As I finished it in a more relaxed moment when I had time to sit with it for longer periods, I found myself less exhausted by it and more enthusiastic about going along for the ride.
I found this via Robin Sloan’s recently-ended Year of the Meteor newsletter. If I recall correctly, what caught my attention in Sloan’s description was the detective’s hobby for composing haiku. Reading it fulfilled my expectations for the quiet and deliberation that I anticipated this character detail might signal. It is a careful classic detective procedural that hangs on the norms and expectations of post-War Japan society. Matsumoto, it turns out, was quite prolific, but unfortunately only four of his novels are available in English translation.
This collection of short restaurant reviews was my go-to time-filler read for the month or so before the launch of the Public Domain Review reboot. Running a new build was just enough time to read another review or two. I enjoy Gold’s writing about food, but mostly it is his affection for L.A. that makes me nostalgic for my own short time there. I wish I had had this collection then.