To paraphrase Jay Sherman: On the Shermometer this book rates an absolute zero! BRRR!

I initially selected this book for three reasons: 1) I had never read anything by Roberto Bolano  2) it had the two magic words “serial killer” in the description and 3) it was available at my local library branch.

I disliked this book so much I couldn’t even finish it.   It is written in five parts and there is only the barest of threads that connects one part to another. 

The First Part About the Critics is about 4 scholars who have built their careers around the works of Benno von Archimboldi.  Following a lead they track him to a nowhere Mexican boarder town where they do nothing or very close to nothing.  Eventually the don’t find him, give up and go home.  This section of over 150 pages and I summed it up in 43 words.  I know other stuff happened but it really didn’t add anything.  By the time I reached the end of this part I was hoping they would all die in a firey plane crash.  At least that would have been exciting.

The Second Part About Amilfitano is about a professor who hangs a philosophy book on his clothes line.  His wife leaves him and their daughter to travel to Spain with a woman who may or may not have been her lesbian lover to break a crazy poet out of an aslyum, sleep with him, get pregnant to prove he isn’t gay.  Amilfitano worries that his daughter will be a victim of the killer who has been killing women in this town for several years. 

 This is the point I just gave up.  I just didn’t care how this book ended.  I put it down on my dining room table with plans to try and power through the third part over the July 4th weekend but I just couldn’t do it.  Life is too short to waste it reading books you don’t like.

Out of curiosity I went looking for some of the reviews for this book (you can read some of them here).  I have to wonder did we read the same book.  For fun read some of the comments to the 1 Star reviews on Amazon.com.  Apparently if you didn’t love this book and think it is the Greatest Book Ever Written you are obviously too stupid and should have your library card taken from you and burned.

I’m going to go hide now before the hoards of Roberto Bolano fans come and burn me at the stake.


Banned Book Week 2010

Saturday in the beginning of Banned Book Week.  Go read a book that someone else thought you shouldn’t

The Name of the Rose

I FINISHED!  and before the end of June.  I was so pleased with myself I treated me to 2 Janet Evanovich books. 

I liked this book but I feel like I need to go back and read it again.   It is not just the story of murder in a 14th century Italian monastery you also get a history lesson in some obscure history of the Catholic church.   Running along side and through the fabric of the mystery are threads of heresy, squabbles over Jesus’ poverty, and questions about whether Jesus laughed. 

The only real problem I had reading this book was it really isn’t told in a linear fashion.  It does not move from Point A to Point B to Point C.  The story is told in more of a loop-the-loop fashion.  The narrator is Adso a young novice taken from his monastery in Melk, Germany by his father and assigned as an assistant to William of Baskerville who is on his way to examine claims/fears of heresy before the arrival of the Papal Legates.   Adso tells the story up to a point then something will take him on a dogleg that sometimes seems to wonder without direction until something brings him right back to the point where he diverged.  Once you get used to these side trips it becomes easier to get through the book.

As for the movie.  I’m kind of sorry we watched it.  I remember seeing it back in the early 90s and thought it was a good movie, but watching it right after finishing the book was a big mistake.  I’m sure my husband was not thrilled to listen to me for nearly 2 hours saying “that wasn’t in the book” and “that’s not how it happened in the book” and “they left _____ out”. 

So I ask you “would Jesus laugh?’

Summer of Adventure!

I am so far behind I think I’m first.  I had planned to do each of these books as individual posts but in the interest of getting them marked off the To Do List I’m doing them all here.  I probably would have never picked up most of these books on my own, but I’m glad I found them. 

Kim by Rudyard Kipling, read by Adrian Praetzellis.  Loved this story about a white boy who is orphaned in India when his father, an Irish soldier drinks himself to death.  Left to his own devices he survives by begging and running small errands.  Eventually he become the Chela for a Tibetan Lama who is searching for the river that will release him from The Wheel of Life.  Untimely it is discovered that Kim is not an Indian urchin and is sent to school to learn the skills necessary to become a surveyor.  What Kim doesn’t realize, at first anyway, is that he is also being groomed to become a spy for the British government in The Great Game.

 The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan also read by Adrian Praetzellis.  Another spy story only this one is set in Great Britain at the dawn of World War I.  Richard Hanney is a bored Scot-expat who manages to get himself mixed up with a plot to kill the Greek Premier and steal British naval secrets.  Every step he takes leads him deeper and deeper into to trouble.   I can’t wait to read Greenmantle the second Richard Hanney novel.

The Thirty-Nine Steps also happens to be one of my all time favorite movies, but only the Alfred Hitchcock version.   I was taken by complete surprise to discover that the movie is almost nothing like the book.  But this is one of those rare instances where they are so different that they cannot really be compared.

Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs, read by Mark Smith.  This book was by far the biggest surprise for me.  I really only picked it because it was a reasonably quick read/listen.   I have never seen any of the Tarzan movies and I’ve only seen a handful of episodes from the TV show Tarzan which I thought were pretty lame.  The book on the other hand was so entertaining that I put my plans to read Robinson Crusoe on the back burner and immediately downloaded the next 5 Tarzan books from librivox.org.  So now I know what I’m reading in July.

I also have to mention a couple of other books that fit in this category that I read earlier in the year.  Kidnapped  *and Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson and last but certainly not least King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard.

*I did not read/listen to the librivox version so I cannot vouch for its quality but it was read by Mark Smith who also read Tarzan of the Apes and he did a good job on that.

To Watch, Or Not To Watch

It has been many, many years since I’ve watched the movie The Name of the Rose and I can get a copy from the local library.  So I’m wondering; should I watch the movie before I finish the book or should I wait?  Decisions, decisions.

The First 100 Pages

After discovering that the first 100 pages were supposed be boring and hard to get through I decided to just hunker down and power through them.  Interestingly enough the first 100 pages (110 to be exact) brings the reader to the end of the first day.  Now that the basis of the plot has been established, the main characters introduced and the scene set I am ready to be rewarded for my perseverance.

A Little Lite Summer Reading

This past weekend while setting up the book table at our yard sale I found the book The Name of the Rose in amongst my mother’s collection of Nora Roberts and Catherine Coulter.   My first thought was “hey, that book is on my list!”   My second thought was “now I know what I’m reading this summer”.   It is probably going to take me all summer to get through this book, it did take me almost 2 years to read all 3 LOTR.  Plus it’s a thick book with small print.

While googling for an image of the edition I’m reading I came across this blog post at Going Against The Current.  

“4. The Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco) I got intrigued in this book when the story was hinted by my professor in her Comparative Literature class. I thought I’ll try it and see if I am a good-enough reader to survive the dead-boring first 100 pages, which according to my professor is a method employed by Eco to sort his readers. Those who give up in the initial pages are not worthy of the riveting, fascinating, ingenious, and dazzling narrative. Page 101 until the last sentence of the final page, she said were written so well that the hurdle of the first 100 was all worth the effort.”

The first 100 pages are dead boring which is why I quit reading.  I’m one of those readers that you have to catch my attention in the first or second chapter or the likelihood of my finishing the book drop to around zero.   I’m onto you this time Umberto, you can’t weed me out again.

Now I just have to remember to go get the book out of the garage…