Thursday, February 7, 2013

Springtime Reads

I'm a pretty busy reader, but lately have been fiendishly plowing through a lot of books and am finding "gold" with every thing I find.  Already wrote about really enjoying a re-read of "Vietnam, A History".    Before that I came across a long forgotten gem called "Alas Babylon".  The novel, written by Pat Frank, was a best seller back in the late fifties.  The book presents a frightening but credible story about a small town in Florida that survives a nuclear war.  It's a fascinating study on how we might adjust to a world starkly different than the one we grew up in.

Because I tend to devour all the works of an author when I discover his talents, I went to ABE books and found the other two books penned by Frank and ordered them.  I am now alternating between the two books and find both very well done.  Frank's second novel is called "Forbidden Area"; it deals with a Soviet attack on the U.S. and, once again, Frank is able to present a credible case for the plot, given the Red Scare of the late fifties.

Frank's third novel is a hilarious offering called "Mr. Adam".  The story concerns a nuclear accident which pretty much takes out the state of Mississippi and, because of two specific compounds that are released in the explosion, the world's men have been rendered sterile.  All those that is except for an inept and awkward mining engineer who just happened to be inspecting an abandoned lead mine a mile down in Leadville, Colorado.  Now, at some point in a man's life he has fantasized about what his life might be like if he ever found himself the "lone man" having to service a harem of women.   Frank's "Mr. Adam" offers a delightful and hilarious take on this idea and I'm finding myself laughing and smiling as I work my way through the book.

I've also been mining Ed McBain's Nursery Rhyme Series featuring the character Matthew Hope.  McBain is famous for writing the hundred or so 87th Precinct cop series.  I have read this series very little but find his Matthew Hope books lighter and more enjoyable fare.

Before Dam flew off to San Jose to spend the Tet New Year with her sister she had just finished reading "Beach Road" by James Patterson.   As she closed the book she said "wow, no one could guess who the killer was".  Although I don't much care for the "bubble gum" best sellers like Patterson, Dam's closing comment intrigued me so I took the book home and read it.  Upon finishing it I literally had the urge to slam the book against the nearest wall, so badly is the reader dishonestly manipulated in following a plot that made no rational sense.  (See my scathing review of the book on Amazon).  The book confirmed my bad opinion of Baldacci and Patterson and their ilk and I won't waste hours on their books ever again.

Have also read two nondescript efforts by new writers that were offered up on Amazon's Kindle free list.  In each case the books offered reasonable plot lines but failed in character development and style.

Our alternating weather patterns here in Arizona this winter have made book reading a most pleasant experience.  When the cold rain sets in I can huddle indoors and have a good read, then when the 75 degree days come back I retreat to the chair lounge in the back yard, soak up a little Vitamin D from the afternoon sun and enjoy a good story as well.

Such is the life of the "comfortably poor".  While the furniture collects dust and soap scum builds up on shower walls, and windows go unwashed, and the garden goes un-weeded, and the dogs go un-bathed, I sit in quiet stupor and plow through book after book.

Life is lazy...but good.


  1. Sitting in a quiet stupor is fine by me. Have been reading on my art books lately because I've run out of store bought and the few I have left of my mom's I just don't feel like starting. When I don't see the sun for weeks times six, and it is as cold as it is, the art books and artist bios give me visuals that I can go to sleep to. I really and truly dream about what I've just read and the visuals are wonderful. That's why I stopped reading Dean Koontz a number of years ago. Wow, what nightmares they gave me.

    Come to think of it, when I used to paint, I'd get in this quiet zone and wouldn't be aware of my surroundings. I sure do miss that.

  2. I can see how looking at colorful artwork would be enjoyable, especially on some of those dark days up in the far north. Makes perfect sense to me that something colorful would be amenable for getting into a nice sleep.

    I also do a lot of audible books but listen to only history when I'm ready for bed. Books by Koontz or King would tend to keep me awake too!

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