Tag Archive | americana

Dual book review: This Way to the End Times and The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter

This Way to the End Times: Classic Tales of the ApocalypseThis Way to the End Times: Classic Tales of the Apocalypse by Robert Silverberg

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A diverse collection of short stories covering a wide variety of ways the world may end, or the aftermath thereof. I’m a sucker for apocalyptic fiction, and this was right up my alley. As with all short story collections, some were better than others, but all were worth reading. Presented in mostly chronological order by date of publication beginning with the early 20th Century, the reader can see how the apocalypse changes as technology advances. That all by itself makes for fascinating reading.

The Heart Is a Lonely HunterThe Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A book I read because it’s on a bunch of lists of “Books You Must Read Before You Die.”

I won’t say it was a waste of my time, but truly, I didn’t care that much about John Singer, the fellow identified by cover copy as being the main character. I was much more interested in Mick Kelly, the young girl whose family owns the boarding house in which Mr. Singer resides. Maybe that’s because I remember reading The Member of the Wedding when I was a teenager and was expecting something similar.

Maybe I’ll just reread that book.

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Book review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

American GodsAmerican Gods by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

2003 Review

Neil Gaiman is one of the most original writers currently publishing. He defies category: how does one classify an author whose work ranges from SF to horror to social commentary to parable and back, all within the pages of one book? His style is reminiscent of Clive Barker and Harlan Ellison, perhaps with a touch of Lovecraft thrown in for seasoning.

AMERICAN GODS tells the story of the war brewing between the “old” gods of the United States — the piskies and brownies and vrokolaks brought over from the Old Country by immigrant believers — and the “new” gods of technology and progress worshipped by the descendants of those immigrants. One human, an ex-con called Shadow, is enlisted by a man calling himself Wednesday to help unite the old gods in resisting the new. Shadow, at loose ends after the sudden loss of his wife, agrees to work for Wednesday, and is plunged headlong into intrigue and strangeness, where people are not who they appear, time does not track, and even the dead do not stay in their graves.

A haunting tone poem of a novel. Highly recommended.

2017 Re-read

Although I had been intending to re-read this book for years, the impending debut of the Starz series (April 30!) finally got this book down from the shelf and into my hands in mid-April.

Seasons of ReadingIt’s funny how time can distort the memory of a once-read novel. I remembered this story as being mostly a road trip with Shadow and Wednesday. While there is definitely a great deal of travel involved, I had completely forgotten the events that take place in sleepy, quiet, wintry Lakeside. I had also forgotten the outcome of Wednesday’s machinations, and how truly noble Shadow turns out to be.

Now I’m prepared for the TV show. It better not be awful.

2017SFFReadingChallenge(Side observation: I expect researching this novel is what eventually led Gaiman to write Norse Mythology.)

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Read as part of the Spring Into Horror read-a-thon.  This is the only book I managed to finish during the time frame.  Join us next time!

Also read for the 2017 Award Winning SF/F Challenge.  You can still join in on that one.

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Book review: The Good Dream by Donna VanLiere

Four of five stars

Sarah Ivorie Walker is 30 years old and single, which is a shame in 1950 rural Tennessee. Ivorie, as she’s known, stayed home with her elderly parents, taking care of them, and now that her mother has passed on, she’s all alone out there on her little homestead. But she has her garden, and her milk cow, and her job at the local public school to keep her busy. One fine summer day, she notices one of her tomato vines is broken, and something’s been in the peas and green beans. Some durn critter is messing up her vegetable patch. She’s determined to trap it. Sure enough, she does: the critter is a little boy. A speechless, neglected, and severely abused little boy who’s been sneaking down out of the hills at night to eat out of her garden. Ivorie decides to take him in and raise him herself. And suddenly, she’s not only a spinster, but a scandal.

Donna VanLiere tells us the story in alternate chapters, first through Ivorie’s eyes, and then through the eyes of our nameless boy. And it’s a sweet story, but not sentimental. Ivorie’s no nonsense approach to all things permits no truck with sentimentality. Still, that isn’t to say a reader won’t shed a tear or two, especially with the closing paragraphs. A lovely lovely book, perfect to read on a summer’s day, while sitting on the front porch drinking iced tea, watching the neighborhood children play in the yard, and counting one’s blessings.

Many thanks to Goodreads First Reads Program for the opportunity to read this book.