Thursday, January 28, 2016

Scratching my Head

 A Cure for Suicide
Long listed for the National Book Award, I thought this would be better than it was. It was intriguing enough that I had to keep reading. I kept waiting for that AHA moment when everything would click and I would understand what the Heck was going on. Very sci=fi, very very weird. One of the reviews I saw (after I finished the book) said it "would repay a second reading" and I suspect that is true.

The main character-- "The Claimant" -- has apparently suffered some type of brain washing (i.e., his memory has been dumped, scrubbed, or otherwise erased). We never really figure out whether he attempted suicide (perhaps the title might have lead us to that question?????), was in a terrible accident, had an illness, or WHAT.

He is in the "care" of The Examiner, who guides him through levels of consciousness in the "Process of Villages." I really can't say anything else because I'm not sure I understood enough of what was happening to be able to report on it.

I suspect that there is a segment of the reading public that will LOVE this book. I didn't dislike it. I just didn't get it.  I'd love to hear from readers who did.
Title: A Cure for Suicide
Author: Jesse Ball
Publisher: Pantheon (2015)  256 pages
Genre: Literary fiction, speculative fiction
Subject: I wish I knew.
Source: public library
Why did I read this book now?  I was reviewing for the Maine Reader's Choice Awards

Monday, January 4, 2016

Off the TBR shelf: Saving the Queen by William F. Buckley Jr.

Several years ago we inherited several books in this series, and have had them on the teetering TBR Pile ever since. I finally determined I'd at least read the 1st one and see if it was worth keeping the rest.  I finished it in time to count it for 2015.  A great way to end the year.
The Publisher notes:
  America's top financial secret agent Blackford Oakes performed his first heroic effort in SAVING THE QUEEN in which William F. Buckley Jr. coaxes readers back to the earliest days of the Cold War. The year is 1951. Harry Truman is president, and the beautiful, young Queen Caroline has just settled onto the throne of England. The CIA is baffled at the shocking things going on in London. Vital Western military secrets are falling into Soviet hands and, worst of all, the leak has been traced directly to the queen's chambers. A recent Yale graduate and ex-combat pilot, the debonair Oakes is selected to penetrate the royal circle, win the queen's confidence, and plug the leak. It all leads to an explosive showdown in the skies over London, one that could determine the future of the West.
 My impressions
 I'm hooked.   Blackford Oakes is a spoiled, wealthy, handsome, very bright Yale graduate with a chip on his shoulder. Recruited by the CIA at the height of the Cold war, his adventures saving the fictional British Queen Caroline from making a fool of herself is rather James Bondish, but high class nonetheless. Tightly plotted, it introduces a cast of characters I'm sure we're going to meet in the books ahead, and each of them is someone I look forward to seeing again.
Although they are dated, reading them as historical fiction is still enjoyable.

Title: Saving the Queen
Author: William F. Buckley, Jr.
Publisher: Cumberland House Publishing (2005), Paperback, 275 pages
Genre: Thriller
Subject: CIA and Cold war
Setting: London
Series: Blackford Oakes Novels #1
Source: inherited from relative
Why did I read this book now?  It's been sitting on the shelf too long.