Thursday, April 12, 2007

Responsible Men by Edward Schwarzschild

The main character, Max is a mess. He is divorced, estranged from his son and a bit of a scam artist. He returns to Philly for the first time since his divorce for his son's Bar Mitzvah and has a chance to continue the rather questionable life he's been leading or turn things around. Schwarzchild delivers a decent debut novel that captures a certain amount of underlying tension. (from '05 list)

The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music by Nick Kent

Legend has it that Nick Kent is about as big a prick as you'll find among rock journalists and that is a dubious distinction indeed. Still he can write. The rub is that he reminds you constantly how "he was there", that he ended up a junkie for a while and a lot of other rock star poses that he got caught up in over the years (but you're a journalist, dork! Just write.). However, he does get good interviews that often bring out more than you might expect. Covering a range of folks from Brian Wilson to Roy Orbison to Shane McGowan to the Stones, if nothing else, it'll make you want to listen to the music. (from '05 list)

The Kite Runner by Khaleed Hosseini

My friends' Dad (Yo, Big Tom!) said that if you want to learn about Victorian England, you should read Dickens and if you want to begin to understand Afghanistan, you should read this. I couldn't agree more. Like millions of others, I loved this book! It was so many things--a father and son story, a window into a country that we're fundamentally "at war" with, a buddy novel, a coming of age story--and it succeeded as all these and just about everything else it attempted. The writing is beautiful and the characters have great depth. The examination of the changes to the country and people of Afghanistan over 30+ years was astounding and invokes compassion. At the same time, I was absolutely caught up in the story and choked back tears a number of times. (from '05 list)

Novelist Kurt Vonnegut dies at 84

Sorry to see you go. Hi ho.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

After his brilliant debut novel, Everything Is Illuminated, I was anxious to see what Foer would do next, mindful of the sophomore slump many young novelists go through. Fortunately, that isn't the case here. Once again, Foer comes through with a tale that's equally funny, gripping and heartbreaking and this was among the first post-9/11 books actually dealing with 9/11. Nine year-old Oscar Schell is among the most memorable characters I've come across in years and I'd love to see the author revisit him. You. Must. Read. This. Book. (from '05 list)

How cool is that?

Well, it seems someone is reading this. If you look at the comment on the review of American Shaolin, you'll see it's from, Matthew Polly, the author of the book! How in hell he found my tiny corner of the blogosphere, I've no clue, but it was awfully kind of him to check in and say something nice.