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review 2018-03-05 01:15
All the Pretty Horses -- Cormac McCarthy rawks
All the Pretty Horses - Cormac McCarthy

This is ostensibly a Western. I, ostensibly, do not like Westerns. I've never made it through any western film unless you count Native American stories, and I don't. I'll grant you that it's set in the Southwest. But this is no normal Western. While reading it, it actually feels like a saga, the word "sweeping" comes to mind. The boys ride wide open terrain, wild animals are always nearby; the weather is harsh, life can be harsher. It is so quintessentially American I can imagine some politician using it for his (yes, his) campaign. (Of course that politician and nobody on his staff would realize that many things about this book clash with their proposed platform.) It's deceptively simple and mind-bendingly complex. Characters speak in short simple sentences (save Alejandra's grandmother,) the meanings layer themselves one on top of another and before you know it, it's slipped from our grasp.


I could tell you the plot, but that's almost beside the point.


Riddled with death and grim reality, it retains a sense of purity and near-innocence. Our main character, John Grady, is moral, stoic and honest to a fault, a criminal and a man-child. On one level the book is violent and gritty, but if you flip it over it's a spiritual fairy tale of sorts. Is it a metaphor, a myth, a prayer, or as the writing would suggest, a lullaby? Do the characters make their own choices, or are they simply puppets played by the strings of fate? Think of every contradiction and this book could probably fit most.


It's fun to read all sorts of books. I see no reason for shame about a beach read or a comic book or a "genre" read like a western. But when it comes down to it, the reason I read is not simply to entertain or to distract myself but rather to find something between the pages that helps me understand and delve further into the state of being human in this oftentimes cruel and confusing world. That could be a particularly good YA novel or a book about a baseball game. All the Pretty Horses is one of those books - a book that defines the reason I read.

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review 2017-09-26 03:52
Review: The Road
The Road - Cormac McCarthy

Listen up, people.  The author of this book has sent his story to us back through time to help us prepare for the coming apocalypse.  His message is this: After the apocalypse there will be no more quotation marks.  Commas and apostrophes will be in short supply.  Periods will outlast them all.  Please use punctuation sparingly and recycle when possible.


Ok, I’m joking.  Sort of.  The above paragraph was triggered by the odd punctuation choices the author made.  More on that later.  This is a post-apocalyptic survival story in which “the man” and “the boy” travel, more or less, down a road toward the southeast part of the U.S.  Some sort of major catastrophe, the source of which is only hinted at, has blocked the sun, destroyed most life, and left ash coating everywhere.  The story is basically about their travel down the road, the dangers they face, and their relationship with each other.


This book doles everything out sparingly – prose, dialogue, world-building, and even punctuation.  I guess that was the purpose to the missing punctuation; it was an attempt to fit with the style of the writing itself.  I couldn’t find any deeper message to it, anyway.  It was a little distracting at first, but it wasn’t usually too difficult to follow, especially since there were usually only two characters.


The dialogue sometimes consisted of several short lines of one to five words each running down the page, alternating between the boy and the man.  It’s one reason the book was such a fast read; there just weren’t that many words on a page, especially not during the sections of dialogue.  I kind of liked the dialogue, though.  I felt like there was a lot being said with those few words, that they knew each other so well that they didn’t have to express themselves verbosely to get a point across. 


The spare world-building bugged me a little, though.  We don’t even know the boy’s age, or how long it’s been since the apocalypse, or what exactly happened, although we do get some hints on the latter.  We don’t know how widespread it is.  We don’t know how people survived the initial event, or why so few did.  The book seemed to be about conveying an experience, and a relationship, and it did so in a very impactful way, but the story itself wasn’t very satisfying to me.  It was a quick read that held my attention, but I wanted more meat. 


The world itself, however is painted very vividly.  I read about half of this book on my deck where I could enjoy the fresh air, sunlight, and green things as an offset to the bleak, dim, ash-filled setting my head was filled with.  Future readers may also want to have fresh water and fruit handy…


Next Book

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams.  I don’t really know anything about this book, but I did read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy about 15 or 20 years ago, so I have a general expectation of silliness.  I was pretty lukewarm in my reaction to Hitchhiker’s, but I’m curious to try the author again after all of these years and it’s possible that silly might seem nice after the book I just finished. :)

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review 2017-09-22 14:48
No Country for Old Men - Cormac McCarthy

Overall, an interesting book.

It's good to know going in that McCarthy does not use quotations in this book. If you go in without knowing that, you might feel some resentment toward him. For the most part, the reader knows what's going on despite the lack of proper grammar. There were a few times I had to go back to figure out who said what, but in general, you can figure it out by what they say. The text jumps around a lot, which adds to the confusion, but for the most part you can figure out what's going on.

Plot-wise, this book was fantastic. The first three-fourths of the book had me reading like crazy to know what happened next. I don't really like crime stuff all that much, but this one was written in such an interesting way that it worked for me.

Then something big happens about three-fourths of the way in and the rest of the book is filled with a lot of symbolism and philosophizing. This in itself wasn't bad, but again, that resentment crept in and I was a little annoyed with the anticlimactic ending.

I have not seen the movie and had little knowledge of the plot going in, so I had no idea what to expect. There is definitely a lot going on in this book so if you want a book to read in order to relax, I would choose a different one. This was involves too much brain power and critical thinking. Again, not bad, but you definitely have to be in the right mood for it.

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text 2017-07-20 16:00
Book Booty, July 2017


A dear friend and colleague left the company recently. To us, it meant that we’d be seeing less of her. We decided to surprise her with a trip to The Tent and bought her a bevy of books. She loved it! We all got just a bit teary eyed but that’s life, isn’t it! You meet awesome people, get to know them better, and then become sad when you part ways with them.

Anyway, since I took myself there, I had to sample some of The Tent’s goodies. But you already knew that. So, this is what I got:

The Buried Giant is a book that I have wanted to get for a while now. The delicious controversy surrounding it and the rumor that it is fantasy without being fantasy have only convinced me to get it.

I loved both The Secret Life of Bees book and the movie. Wanting to see if the author’s other books are as magical, I have purchased this one as well. Now, I have two of her books in my collection:

Since people keep pairing the two, I have wanted to read this one ever since I read The Road. Now I can! The book can be used in lieu of a door stopper but if I can survive WoT, I am sure I will live to tell the tale after having read this one!

Read and loved this one, so I wanted it for my collection. I like the cover on this edition even though I have yet to watch the movie!


I have heard mostly negative things about Memoirs of Geisha and how the author of that book has over-romanticized and out-slutted the role that geishas played in the Japanese society. From trusted sources come recommendations that present a more accurate picture. This author is one from that list and I couldn’t stop myself from getting this book.


To be honest, I don’t know why I bought this…yet. I might read it or I might give it to someone who will get more use out of it than I would. Haven’t decided!


This was a wonderful find. This book-cum-RPG thing is why I love going to The Tent. I have found all sorts of amazing things there. If you remember my illustrated Hobbit and LOTR editions, that is where I got them from.


The empty frame was filled with cards displaying characters from the book. Each card had the picture of a character at the front and some questions (that might help in brainstorming) at the back. Here are the cards:


A closer look:


Am I crazy or are they really pretty? Like the book on Rock history, I haven’t decided what I am going to do with these yet. Any ideas?

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review 2017-06-22 03:36
Review: All the Pretty Horses
All the Pretty Horses - Cormac McCarthy

I am not what you would call the average Cormac McCarthy reader. Yes, I may fit the stereotype—white male with a beard in his thirties—but I defy most stereotypes and hope that someday I may be the poster child for “stereotypes be damned.” (It seems out of place to use quotes in a review of a McCarthy book, doesn't it?) Historically, grisly, romanticized westerns do little for me.

Like everyone else, I've read The Road. That was more than a decade ago and I thought, “eh, it's okay.” It was the first McCarthy I'd read and while I was open to the idea of returning to the author, he wasn't on the top of my list. Two weeks ago, I had no plans of returning to McCarthy anytime soon. I have a long list of books I really want to read, and between those and whatever randomly tempts me on the bookshelf, I have no time for outliers. But a strange thing happened: I wasn't in the mood for any of the books on my list. Nothing seemed right. I experienced something rare: I had no idea what I wanted to read. I spent more than an hour trying to decide what was next. I was tempted to just take a day or two away from reading. Then, as though some conscious entity grew tired of my fit, I picked up All the Pretty Horses and started reading. Divine intervention? Subconscious desire? Likely, I just wanted to surprise myself.

And was I surprised. Within an hour, I found that I was enjoying the story. Thoroughly. And for those who know me and my likes, this may be surprising. I'm an open-minded individual and will try things outside of my comfort zone, but there are some things that have burned me so many times that I expect to be displeased. A book that promises to be filled with horses and gunfights is prone to disappoint.All the Pretty Horses exceeded all my baseless expectations. Much of my appreciation was in the way the main characters, John Grady and Lacey Rawlins, converse. What pulled me in was those two, sitting around a fire and talking, riding through desolate terrain and talking. Oddly, I became very wrapped up in their simple conversation. Even though their relationship seemed unbalanced, even though Grady seemed like a contradiction, and even though I hate heat and horses, I was pulled in. And as others were added to the mix, the dynamics changed, but the conversation remained riveting.

Grady was a wonderful character, though I couldn't quite grasp how much faith I was willing to invest in his authenticity. Although I never thought of Grady as old, I had trouble shaping his image as a sixteen year old. He was far too wise and mature. The more I got to know him, the more I was convinced that such a wise teenager could exist. And, as the story developed, I began to see that underneath it all, he may have not been quite as wise as he seemed (though I'm still not sure). Multi-dimensional character: you've hooked me.

Ironically, it was only when the book picked up speed, reaching its climax, that my interest waned some. An old-fashioned shootout and the getaway on a horse: I find that a bit boring. Overall, this was such a small part of the novel that I wasn't too distracted by it.

Who'd have thought that cowboys sitting around talking would've been such a draw? Divine intervention? I'm a weird one, I guess. Now I'm actually excited to read the next book in the series.

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