Tuesday, May 1, 2007

From the shelves

I belong to a book club. I know, you are all SHOCKED by that statement, but it is an important piece of background information for what I am about to write. I enjoy this book club, and it does force me to read books that I, in all likelihood, would never have read. That being said, it never ceases to amaze me how many of the members suggest depressing books for this club. Not occasionally, but consistently, every year. This also doesn't seem to be unique to my book club. Two of the most well-known nationwide book clubs (Oprah's and the New York Times) also select a disproportionately large amount of heavy reading.

It isn't that I disapprove of somber or serious reading material. There is certainly a place for it, just as there is a place for other forms of literature (well, maybe not V. C. Andrews.....). I just don't quite understand the desire to want to curl up with such unpleasantness. (And incidentally have you ever noticed the types of movies that air on Lifetime? Oh yes! Let me watch movies about women being brutalized in myriads of ways! What is it with people? But I digress.) Humorous literature seems to suffer from the same lack of respect that comedic movies do. Just because something is funny it doesn't mean it lacks merit, and just because something is serious it doesn't automatically mean that it is worthwhile.

Basically, this was a long-winded way of saying that I'm starting a new feature to this blog. At the beginning of each month I am going to post a book suggestion with some (hopefully) pithy comments about why I enjoyed it and why you should read it. This is not a book club in the traditional sense. I am not going to later post fun facts about the author or the subject, or discussion questions. I will post a query for comments on the book at the end of the month though, in the event that anyone takes me up on my suggestion or wants to add their own.

Right! So let's begin. The first book I am going to suggest in The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie. (Yes, it is the same Hugh Laurie that is better known to most Americans as Dr. House. Yes, I agree it is most unfair that one man should be blessed with so much talent, but there you go. It's not as if we don't get to reap the benefits of his work.) I discovered this book while viewing Christopher Moore's website, an author whose work I only recently discovered, and who will be profiled later in this series. So why should you read The Gun Seller? It has an interesting and, most unusually given it is a novel of intrigue, a feasible plot. The main characters are fully formed, (there are one or two peripheral characters who, as I recall, weren't flushed out very well, but then if they had been they wouldn't have been peripheral), it is full of witty dialogue, and the premise actually makes you think. It addresses one of the issues raised in V for Vendetta although not in such a dark and disturbing manner. Just how much complicity is there between the media, the government and the weapons industry? Just how far will greed drive people and what sort of atrocities will they commit in the name of "public service"?

The Gun Seller should score highly in the area of appeal to men as it is action packed and plays out in a rather cinematic mode. However, ladies, you should not be discouraged by this. The scenes of violence are not particularly graphic and tend to be quite brief and the hero is quite dashing. So find, read, and enjoy! (By the way, for those who know me personally, our local public library actually owns this book! I know, you are stunned and amazed, but it is true.) To close, here is my favorite line: "My God! My life is ebbing away in this room!" I keep hoping for a chance to actually say that out loud......I certainly think it often enough.

10 comments:

rainbowCipher said...

so... i'd like to say that maybe i'd read it, and perhaps i will... i wish i read more... but i can't seem to pull myself away from the computer long enough... stupid world of warcrack X-(

rainbowCipher said...

That's some impressive underlining there SL! Impressive, indeed.

syrion said...

I will add it to the list. At the moment, though, I'm reading Gravity's Rainbow, The Aeneid, and working on my nine-volume philosophy adventure. After that (or at least after the fiction, the philosophy is a long-term project), I've got The Eyre Affair--one of yours, natch--to read... followed by Blood Meridian; or the evening redness in the West and Atonement. After that, I'm going to read.. uh... Pride & Prejudice.

No, I never read it.

:(

syrion said...

I forgot the book that Dr. Zamora lent me. Oh dear God my brain.

Mockingbird said...

I've occasionally thought lately that I need a suitable catchphrase in certain classroom situations - I think "My God, my life is ebbing away in this room!" just might suit . . .

Oh, pay no attention to me. I get like this during the last week of the semester.

Stacked Librarian said...

Do not despair over the fact that you have not read Pride and Prejudice Syrion. You are so incredibly well read that I occasionally feel like a slacker. I am shocked to discover that there is a classic that I have read that you haven't, but that's because I haven't read that many. Don't tell Dr. Zamora you haven't read it though. She worships at the altar of Austen.

Stacked Librarian said...

Yes, Mockingbird, it is a wonderful turn of phrase. The book is full of them by the way. That's just the one I have committed to memory.

Stacked Librarian said...

Oh, Syrion. Are you re-reading the Aeneid, or is a brand new one for you? Because if it is, there's another classic that I've read that you haven't. Sacrebleu!

Mikey said...

Speaking of books, the Don Quixote book we have in the library is the stupidest-looking book I have ever seen in my life.

rainbowCipher said...

haha... way to go Mike! Haven't seen it... perhaps I should.