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review 2016-05-14 00:25
The Folio Book of Comic Short Stories
The Folio Book of Comic Short Stories - Dorothy Parker,Paul Cox,P.G. Wodehouse,O. Henry,Anthony Trollope,V.S. Pritchett,Muriel Spark,Evelyn Waugh,Saki,Damon Runyon,James Thurber,David Hughes,Robertson Davies,Elizabeth Bowen,Henry Lawson,W.W. Jacobs,Stephen Leacock,Richmal Crompton,Ben Travers,S

An anthology of 22 short comedic pieces, I picked this up on impulse at a UBS, because I'd never read any of the authors before (correction: I've read Wodehouse) and there were more than a couple names here that I'd often felt like I should have read, but hadn't; I was afraid they'd be weighty and, you know, deep.  So here was my chance to read their work without a lot of emotional commitment.

 

Almost all of the stories here were excellent.  As in any collection, there were a few clunkers: I found the ending of V.S. Pritchett's piece abrupt and nonsensical.  Elizabeth Bowen's and Muriel Spark's pieces left me flat. 

 

The really great stories out-weighed those though: Wilde's The Model Millionaire was my favorite of the book, with Saki's Byzantine Omelette and Robertson Davies' The Xerox in the Lost Room close behind.  Oh, and A Piece of Pie by Damon Runyon had me laughing at the truly cunning ending.  Stories by Dorothy Parker and James Thurber had more of an emotional edge; the humor from these stories came from a darker, cynical view.

 

All in all a truly excellent collection; I've already bought a collection of Saki's work based on what I've read here, and I'm looking forward to reading more by some of these authors.

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text 2016-04-02 09:00
April reading - the experiment continues
RHS Tales from the Tool Shed - Bill Laws
The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York - Deborah Blum
A Morbid Taste for Bones - Ellis Peters
Toujours Provence - Peter Mayle
Undeniably Yours - Heather Webber
Death Comes to Pemberley - P.D. James
An Inquiry Into Love and Death - Simone St. James
The Convenient Marriage - Georgette Heyer
The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy: A Lexicon of Life Hacks for the Modern Lady Geek - Sam Maggs
The Folio Book of Comic Short Stories - Dorothy Parker,Paul Cox,P.G. Wodehouse,O. Henry,Anthony Trollope,V.S. Pritchett,Muriel Spark,Evelyn Waugh,Saki,Damon Runyon,James Thurber,David Hughes,Robertson Davies,Elizabeth Bowen,Henry Lawson,W.W. Jacobs,Stephen Leacock,Richmal Crompton,Ben Travers,S

Since I did much better with my semi-planned reading in March than I thought I might, I'm trying it again this month with the above books, some of which have been sitting in the TBR pile for a very long time.  No non-fiction bricks this month, so perhaps I can get through the stack this time.

 

Happy reading!

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review 2012-07-27 12:52
Driving to BelAir: A Novella
Driving to Bel Air - William G. Jones Road trips are a tried and tested formula, one which is difficult to either get completely right or completely wrong. I have read and seen so many books and movies on the subject which I have liked enough to not get bored by them. But I had yet to come across something I truly loved. I have to say the “Driving to Belair” comes close to being perfect.

The book follows the formula very well. We start with a reason for the road trip which has meaning and does not seem frivolous. Each of the persons on the road trip has a personality and there are no filler characters. As, with any good road trip book, anything that can go wrong, does in fact go wrong. The characters develop and mature during the road trip as the hardships and the trials all bring them closer to each other than they were to begin with. And, it all ends on a hugely positive note. Frankly, I don’t see anything new there. But, I still loved the book! It is by far the best one I have read.

I loved the mix of characters the author has created. The trip consists of Dale, a person working in a New York advertising agency who comes from the modest background of a family raised on a farm. Then, there are his two brothers, both of whom have their own problems. One of them is a drug addict, who is totally immature and refuses to grow up. The other brother has held a grudge against Dale for a really long time for leaving the family behind and for “running away” from his responsibilities. He is now an alcoholic and is hostile towards Dale right from the start. Add to this trio, Dale’s ex-fiancé whom he also left behind and his current high-maintenance girlfriend who is the spoilt daughter of his boss. With such a cast, the storyline was bound to be explosive.

Each character is clearly well developed and complex. I kept changing my opinions about the all the characters, except for one, throughout the book. I kept moving from hating to loving characters and could not decide whether a character was the good guy or bad. For example, Dale’s past made me feel really sorry for him. He had a tough childhood with an abusive father, which made him bitter towards his family. But I couldn’t stand his actions now, after all these years. This is something I really enjoy, characters which are not painted with just one brush. Each character had a past and personality traits which added many dimensions to them and made them real. The talent of the author lies in making us feel the emotions he wants us to feel. This is not something easy to achieve, and for this I commend him.

The events which take place in the story are fairly standard to any road tip related media. They did add a lot of personality to the book though. They made me laugh, cringe, shout, feel sorry, and finally feel happy. The book also ends strongly. All the loose ends are perfectly tied and everyone goes home happy, well almost everyone. The author also gives us a glimpse in the life of the characters a few years after this road trip. We’re left contented as we know what finally happened to each of the characters.

I found it to be nice that such broken people can also find lasting happiness. This means there is hope for me too! LOL. That is the message I truly love.
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review 2012-03-22 02:17
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole Pretty good. A bit long in places but a nice intellectual romp.
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review 2012-03-01 01:04
Explosive Eighteen: A Stephanie Plum Novel
Explosive Eighteen - Janet Evanovich This book took me back to why I love this series. No, the Morelli vs. Ranger situation didn't get resolved (a bit of a let down but it was finally nice to see that Morelli can fight for what he wants), but this one took us back to those days in the middle of the series where Stephanie was truly knee deep in crap that she's accidentally fallen in. You know, where the whole storyline is about someone(s) trying to kill her. Those were the Stephanie Plum days that I loved. Plus, we get a whole lot of Lula being the sidekick that I truly wish I had...just for the comic relief.

So the story....

Stephanie is fleeing Hawaii, leaving behind a mess she doesn't want to deal with. When she gets home, she finds an envelope with a picture of a guy in it. She has no clue who the guy is so she throws it into the garbage with a protesting Grandma Mauzer watches in agony.

Turns out a lot of people want that picture. Stephanie soon has 2 hired goons pretending to be FBI trying to get it, the real FBI wanting their hands on it, crazy Razzle Dazzle attacking Stephanie to get it and finally crazy hair dresser Brenda hounding her for it. No one believes her when she says she doesn't have it, so following, chasing and attacking ensue. Classic Stephanie Plum.

Stephanie and Rex still need to eat, so she does need to continue on with her day job and try to catch her skips. This is when the Lula factor comes into play. She's just as outrageous and overtop as ever, which has you laughing at every third line that comes from her fictional mouth. If it's not that, it's the description of what she's wearing.

Let me set the stage...

Lula has decided she is going to channel her inner Ranger and dress in black just like him. Here's her first foray into Lula Ranger.
I glance at Lula. She was dressed in black. Black faux lizard-skin cowboy boots, black jeans that looked like they were painted on her, black tank top with an acre of boob squishing out. Pink hair.
My curiosity was raised. "What's with the black?" I wanted to know. "You never wear all black."
"I told you yesterday, I'm gettin' serious. I'm not takin' this job lightly no more. I'm channeling my inner Ranger, and I'm wearing black like him. I figure he's on to something with the black deal."

I laughed at this book more than I have the previous few. It was good to see the characters going back to what they used to be. I would really like to see the whole Ranger/Morelli thing finished (I love them both but how long can one woman be torn between two men???), but based on this ending I'm not going to get my hopes up.

Still a very entertaining read that will having you laughing out loud and wondering if a trip the Burg will net you some crazy friends like Stephanie's.
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