BY JON PILL
I’ve passed my initial goal of exceeding last year’s eighty-one books read, and am looking to be on track to hit a nice round hundred for 2016 overall.
So instead of Movie Review Monday, here are the twitter length book reviews for my reading in October:
1. The Waves by Virginia Woolf, who is a shaft of light on the waters, a writer working in a window, a beast stamping…
Whether or not it functions as a novel rather than just a load of beautifully crafted sentences I’m not 100% sure. But I think I enjoyed reading it. Would recommend to those who have tried Woolf and already know they like her.
2. Wuthering Height by Emily Brontë, who is the best of the Brontë sisters.
No sanctimoniousness, no moralising, and no expectation that I should like the vicious and insane cast of characters – unlike her sisters. The book is a fabulous mess of great Gothic weirdness. Would recommend.
3. Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein, who thinks corporal punishment should be brought back for, like, everything.
Along with The Godfather, The Exorcist and Road to Perdition, Starship Troopers is one of the cases where the film is much better than the book. It’s far from terrible, but manages to engage with its many interesting ideas with all the elegance of an intoxicated bull elephant in musth. Would recommend to fans of military SF.
4. Road to Perdition by Max Allan Collins, who wrote a picture book that got turned into a picture.
See also: Starship Troopers. The art is often great and the story solid. But having seen the film already, I couldn’t help but think that every change they made was for the better. Would recommend watching the the movie instead.
5. On the Road to Perdition: Oasis by Max Allan Collins, who did it again.
An alright follow up to Road to Perdition that is mostly spent recapping the original novel. Probably wouldn’t recommend.
6. Ho Chi Minh: A Life by William J. Duiker, who better to write Ho Chi Minh’s biography than an American.
Written in a fairly narrative style, this is (claims to be) the only academic (as opposed to political) biography of Ho Chi Minh. It is a facinating account of a properly complex and hugely important 20th-Century figure. Would highly recommend.
7. The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee, who is not to be confused with Rod Pounder author of My Jeans: An Intimate Herstory.
Really great science writing. Mukherjee has a knack for telling a story, getting information across clearly and memorably, and for creating a kind of poetic understanding of the subject. Would recommend this, and then also his previous book The Emperor of All Maladies .
8. The Fatal Eggs by Mikhail Bulgakov, who is mad as a box of gigantified frogs.
Extremely silly satirical sci-fi novella from the writer of Master & Margarita. Scientist creates growth ray. Shenanigans ensue. Would recommend, but probably not before Master & Margarita.
9. The Biggest Game in Town by Al Álvarez, who thinks Saul Bellow’s face is a widely recognisable visual reference.
The original exposé of the poker world. Written in frequently poetic and occasionally obscure style. Would recommend to anyone interested in poker.