Books I’ve Read: September

I'm a blank image because this stupid WP layout is stupid and makes an ugly forced image if I'm not here

Embroidering a lot, reading less. It’s for the best, I’m sure.
Gods, I forgot to put this shit behind a cut.

Arsene Lupin novels, Maurice LeBlanc (Gutenberg)
I’m going to do these a little differently, since I read all that Gutenberg had of them and would rather review the bunch briefly than trying to untangle the details of each one.

I absolutely adore the gentleman-thief and his “a-ha!” tactics, the flamboyancy that always gets him into trouble (also, the ladies) and how every time he starts to stick to the law, something must give and push him back to his wayward ways.

I am even more in love with how LeBlanc handled Sherlock Holmes. There is this cameo by Holmes, to which Conan Doyle, I guess, was all like “Oh nuh-uh, my character, bitch”. So LeBlanc, when writing a sequel, introduced “Hemlock Shears”—a total jackass who is not quite as bright as he thinks and who treats his compatriot, “Wilson”, like an object, caring not when the guy is stabbed, shot in the heart, etc. It was very “Whatev, Doyle, suck this fatty then.”

Dune, Frank Herbert
This is not the venue for explaining how this book, combined with Brautigan’s Watermelon Sugar read aloud, accidentally finding the Earthsea trilogy (and not knowing who wrote it until years later), muscle relaxers, codine, discovering rock music, and being a teenager all sort of made me who I am today (whatever that is).

The Road, Cormac McCarthy
Y’know, I’m giving it a three (on GoodReads that’s out of five and means “liked it”), because there were parts and ideas that were totally fab, but when I remember the eye-gouging (not in a good way) emote-y, “my dead wife”, “death and nature are beautiful patterns” bits—which thankfully were easy to skip—I want to knock it down to a two. A one if I remember the cop-out end. But I am going to pretend that it did not end that way.

If I wasn’t a sucker for post-apocalyptic shit, this would be rated lower. I can see why it’s all Oprah’s book club, because the end and that one can latch onto the father-son relationship can overshadow the delicious awfulness of their daily lives (which hey, not that different than the crazy guy in town who tips well, parks his shopping cart nicely and wears a motorcycle helmet all the time).

Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit, Daniel Quinn
I can see how reading this book as a teen or early college student would rock one’s world. It’s lovely to read and brings up great ideas, but I had a teenage life-changing book* and so that part of me just couldn’t connect.

*Dune, shut up

I’m a Lebowski, You’re a Lebowski: Life, The Big Lebowski, and What Have You, Bloba Books LLC
Well. The interviews were sometimes interesting. I like the movie, but now I don’t know how I feel about the primary mass of fans.

Dogland, by Will Shetterly (from Tor.com)
It’s like Harper Lee and Isabel Allende got together to write something—one building the myth-touched world the other’s adult-omniscient nostalgia narrates. I really can’t give you more than that. This was God-damn good.

War for the Oaks, Emma Bull (from Tor.com)
Wow. So, this was one of those books that you moderately enjoy while reading and then, looking back (especially reading City of Roses after, bringing things sharply into comparison), you’re like “been there, read about mortals dragged into faerie affairs and totally knew she’d fall for that guy.”

The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins (Gutenberg)
That we’re given the story by several different narrators, who—in chronological order—were involved with the whole Moonstone affair, is a very interesting device. There’s a clear voice for each section, and the whole things comes around nicely in the end.

Deception, family affairs, the mystery of the East. Nice little bundle here.

The Thirty-nine Steps, John Buchan (Gutenberg)
This is a classic, I think? I can see why. Average dude, who’s luckily good at rolling with the death-punches, caught up in mystery! OMiG, state of England at stake!

The fun thing here especially is that the Axis (before they were the Axis) are the bad guys. It’s interesting to read things where the Russians are, duh, the antagonists—where it is accepted. Also where the setting is super-secret doings that were part of That Big Thing That Just Happened.

The Circular Staircase, Mary Roberts Rinehart (Gutenberg)
Our detective is a crochety old lady who doesn’t care much when her nephew runs over dogs with his motor-car. She gets all tangled up in a mystery, which is inevitable because of her stubbornness and whatnot. Standard old-lady mystery stuff. Secret romances, false identities, etc.

Carol Trent Air Stewardess, Jeanne Judson
A Red Rose Romance, omigod. This was a coverless (sobs!) book from the free box at my local coffee shop. Have the back cover blurb:

Carol Trent felt free at last! Her work as an airline stewardess was fulfilling, the people she met were interesting and at the end of the run exotic Hawaii awaited her. Carol laughed at people who said she would marry herself out of a job, but then she met a handsome young passenger who was determined to make her change her mind.

How could I not love it? It was the most innocuous thing I’ve ever read and (spoiler!) she chooses career and life before men, in the end. There’s even a little (innocuous) mystery woven in. And lots about how great being an airline stewardess is. I am kind of super jealous that planes don’t have lounges any more.

The Old Man in the Corner, Emmuska Orczy (Gutenberg)
This was under the “Detective” bookshelf on Gutenberg, but it’s not quite so. Our lady reporter protagonist makes an odd acquaintance who fills her in on his theories of recent crimes. It’s satisfying in that the twist to each one is moderately novel and well-explained. Though I’m all up for question-mark endings, it’s nice to get a bunch of stories wrapped in a bow (including a fun surprise bow at the end).