Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk

November 30th, 2006

Fight Club by Chuck PalahniukAn underground classic since its first publication in 1996, Fight Club is now recognized as one of the most original and provocative novels published in [that] decade. Chuck Palahniuk's darkly funny first novel tells the story of a god-forsaken young man who discovers that his rage at living in a world filled with failure and lies cannot be pacified by an empty consumer culture. Relief for him and his disenfranchised peers comes in the form of secret after-hours boxing matches held in the basements of bars. Fight Club is the brainchild of Tyler Durden, who thinks he has found a way for himself and his friends to live beyond their confining and stultifying lives. But in Tyler's world there are no rules, no limits, no brakes.

I like to read things that come from Chuck Palahniuk's mind. The result could be good (Diary) or bad (Invisible Monsters); sometimes you never know. What you do know is that the story will likely be something you could never come up with on your own. That is not to say that they are mystery novels and the suspense is imaginative. Though Palahniuk's suspense is certainly imaginative, his stories follow no mold I have seen before.

Chuck Palahniuk is probably just what you would expect him to be like, should you have an opportunity to see him. I saw him give a speech a few years ago, and he was just as I expected. He said that when he writes books he tends to pick one music album to listen to while he writes. One album. For Fight Club, he said he listened to The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails. Again, probably just as you would have expected. Neat guy. Wonderful speaker. Incredibly interesting writer.

I have seen the movie adaptation for Fight Club. I love the movie and am always impressed with the parts played by Brad Pitt and Ed Norton, Jr. I was not hesitant, but rather curious to read the book. Normally I figure a person will prefer whichever version they experience first. I wasn't reading the book in hopes that it would be better than the movie since as they say, "the book is always better." I wanted to see this story on paper through Palahniuk's eyes and with his words rather than a Hollywood adaptation of both.

I found exactly what I had hoped for. The foundation was the same as the movie, but the writing was a little rougher around the edges. It was rough because it was not written to appeal to a broader audience like the movie script was, and it was rough because it was his first book. Like many authors, Palahniuk's writing has become...smoother, for lack of a better term, with each book he has written. Please do not interpret that as a complaint with the book or a negative comment, it is only an observation. If anything, it made the book better as it was more fitting with the feel of the story.

I have seen the movie. Any potential, big plot-twist at the end of the story, if one existed....would not have been a surprise reading the book. I did not care. I wasn't reading the book for the story to be new again. I was only interested in seeing the story a different way, which I was able to do. Fight Club isn't the best book I have ever read, nor is it one of my favorites, but I am glad I took the time to read it. And I recommend it. You have no excuses, it's short.

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Book of the Month - December, 2006

November 28th, 2006

The Poet by Michael Connelly

The Poet by Michael ConnellyMichael Connelly has written one explosive thriller after another featuring Detective Harry Bosch. Now, in an electrifying departure, he presents a novel that breaks all the rules and will keep your heart racing and your mind guessing until the very last page.

Death is reporter Jack McEvoy's beat: his calling, his obsession. But this time, death brings McEvoy the story he never wanted to write -- and the mystery he desperately needs to solve. A serial killer of unprecedented savagery and cunning is at large. His targets: homicide cops, each haunted by a murder case he couldn't crack. The killer's calling card: a quotation from the works of Edgar Allan Poe. His latest victim is McEvoy's own brother. And his last... may be McEvoy himself.

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Beyond the Deepwoods - Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell

November 16th, 2006

Beyond the Deepwoods by Paul Stewart & Chris RiddellFar, far away, jutting out into the emptiness beyond, lies the Edge. Filled with strange peoples and terrifying creatures, this is a world unlike any other, where action -- and danger -- await at every turn. Abandoned at birth in the dangerous Deepwoods, young Twig has been brought up by a family of woodtrolls. He has always thought he was one of them, until, one cold night, he finds out he's not. Soon he sets off to find out who he really is, and he does the unthinkable -- he strays from the path.

So begins the heart-stopping adventure that will take Twig through a nightmarish world of goblins and trogs, bloodthirsty beasts and flesh-eating trees. Only two things keep Twig going: the hopes of discovering his true identity and finding his destiny.

I have often seen The Edge Chronicles at the top of "What to read between Harry Potter books" lists. I love the Harry Potter series and with its inevitable demise, I too have found myself looking for alternatives. After only one book, I would probably suggest the Edge Chronicles for a younger reading-audience than the Harry Potter series, but that is not to say that I, as a 25 year old (child), could not have fun with them. Again, with only one book done, I am already looking forward to the second book.

For the first installment of the series, poor Twig (the main character) has a very rough go at it. He is basically pushed out of the proverbial nest and finds himself in a situation where he must find his own way. Beyond the Deepwoods follows Twig as he continuously finds himself face-to-face with danger. At every turn he encounters creatures, many animal...some vegetable, that try to do him great harm. Twig spends more time in trouble than he does getting out of it. From my "adult" perspective, I would have liked to see a little more development in the escape, but I cannot imagine that it would be an issue for a younger reader.

The story is wildly imaginative and fun to read. A huge bonus to these books is the artwork by Chris Riddell. He is a wonderfully talented artist and his beautiful drawings bring the story to life. What I liked most was how the text was wrapped around the pictures. The pictures are not separate from the text; they are just as important as the words and the two are presented together.

If Beyond the Deepwoods is representative of the series, the books are short and simple, quick reads. And if you are sucker for a gimmick like I am, these books all come in a fun, hard-cover binding that will look great on my bookshelf as I add them to my collection.

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Hannibal Rising

November 13th, 2006

Thomas Harris has given us only a few books, though each is worth reading. He is the author who brought us Hannibal Lecter. Hannibal Rising, to be released on December 5, 2006, will be the fourth book about Dr. Lecter and appears to be a prequel to Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal.

Hannibal Rising by Thomas HarrisHE IS ONE OF THE MOST HAUNTING CHARACTERS IN ALL OF LITERATURE.

AT LAST THE EVOLUTION OF HIS EVIL IS REVEALED.

Hannibal Lecter emerges from the nightmare of the Eastern Front, a boy in the snow, mute, with a chain around his neck.

He seems utterly alone, but he has brought his demons with him.

Hannibal's uncle, a noted painter, finds him in a Soviet orphanage and brings him to France, where Hannibal will live with his uncle and his uncle's beautiful and exotic wife, Lady Murasaki.

Lady Murasaki helps Hannibal to heal. With her help he flourishes, becoming the youngest person ever admitted to medical school in France.

But Hannibal's demons visit him and torment him. When he is old enough, he visits them in turn.

He discovers he has gifts beyond the academic, and in that epiphany, Hannibal Lecter becomes death's prodigy.

Consider me excited.

November 12th, 2006
Tom Robbins - Still Life With Woodpecker - 96Those who shun the whimsy of things will experience rigor mortis before death.

Next

November 3rd, 2006

Michael Crichton's newest work, called "Next," will be released on November 28, 2006. I can't wait! Get your copy here.

Next by Michael CrichtonWelcome to our genetic world.
Fast, furious, and out of control.
This is not the world of the future-it's the world right now.

Is a loved one missing some body parts? Are blondes becoming extinct? Is everyone at your dinner table of the same species? Humans and chimpanzees differ in only 400 genes; is that why an adult human being resembles a chimp fetus? And should that worry us? There's a new genetic cure for drug addiction-is it worse than the disease?

We live in a time of momentous scientific leaps; a time when it's possible to sell our eggs and sperm online for thousands of dollars; test our spouses for genetic maladies and even frame someone for a genetic crime.

We live in a time when one fifth of all our genes are owned by someone else, and an unsuspecting person and his family can be pursued cross-country because they happen to have certain valuable genes within their chromosomes. . . .

Devilishly clever, Next blends fact and fiction into a breathless tale of a new world where nothing is what it seems, and a set of new possibilities can open at every turn. Next challenges our sense of reality and notions of morality. Balancing the comic and bizarre with the genuinely frightening and disturbing, Next shatters our assumptions, and reveals shocking new choices where we least expect.

The future is closer than you think. Get used to it.

Mr. Crichton has been my favorite author since, and largely due in part to the fact that, I good hooked on reading from two tremendous books that he wrote: Sphere and Congo.

October 26th, 2006
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief - 30When she finally came to write her story, she would wonder exactly when the books and the words started to mean not just something but everything.

Book of the Month - November, 2006

October 23rd, 2006

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century by Thomas L. Friedman

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century by Thomas L. FriedmanThe World is Flat is Thomas L. Friedman's account of the great changes taking place in our time, as lightening-swift advances in technology and communication put people all over the globe in touch as never before -- creating an explosion of wealth in India and China, and challenging the rest of us to run even faster just to stay in place. This updated and expanded edition features more than a hundred pages of fresh reporting and commentary, drawn from Friedman's travels around the world and across the American heartland -- from anyplace where the flattening of the world is being felt.

In The World is Flat, Friedman at once shows "how and why globalization has now shifted into warp drive" (Robert Wright, Slate) and brilliantly demystifies the new flat world for readers, allowing them to make sense of the often bewildering scene unfolding before their eyes. With his inimitable ability to translate complex foreign policy and economic issues, he explains how the flattening of the world happened at the dawn of the twenty-first century; what it means to countries, companies, communities, and individuals; how governments and societies can, and must, adapt; and why terrorists want to stand in the way. More than ever, The World is Flat is an essential update on globalization, its successes and discontents, powerfully illuminated by one of our most respected journalists.

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The 2006 Man Booker Prize WINNER!

October 14th, 2006

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction represents the very best in contemporary fiction (from the UK, Ireland, and the Commonwealth). One of the world’s most prestigious awards, and one of incomparable influence, it continues to be the pinnacle of ambition for every fiction writer. It has the power to transform the fortunes of authors, and even publishers. In 2004, not only did Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty reach the bestseller lists, but previous winners The Life of Pi (2002) and Vernon God Little (2003) were also amongst the bestselling books of the year. Congratulations to last year's winner John Banville for his novel The Sea.

The winner receives £50,000 with a guaranteed increase in sales and recognition worldwide.

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
The Complete 2006 Nominee List

October 2nd, 2006
Stephen King - Wolves of the Calla - 381I suppose I wanted to say goodbye to someone, and have someone say goodbye to me. The goodbyes we speak and the goodbyes we hear are the goodbyes that tell us we're still alive, after all.