Reading Roundup (Cranky Edition)

I know I haven’t posted much lately. The holidays seem to have taken over, along with my own writing. But I’ve been doing a lot of reading, even if it’s been aborted, as you’ll see.

Midnight in the Garden of Evil by John Berendt. This book has been sitting in my TBR pile for many years. I think I or my wife was given this book as a gift, while we were living in Chicago. That’s over a decade. Probably a record of some kind. I had rented the movie when it come out on video and found myself confused more than anything. Then a few years ago I read Berendt’s City of Falling Angels (insightful and fascinating take on Venice, Italy) and thought, okay, I really need to read Midnight. So I did and I’m glad I did. It is an excellent piece of nonfiction about the insular, eccentric world of Savannah, Georgia. The only thing that confused me was the time line of events, which Berendt never quite lays out, giving me an untethered feeling throughout my read. Recommended for People Who Like Stories Set in Foreign Locales.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain. I had not read this novel since high school. I thought I would give it a re-read. Well, After about 120 pages I gave up. I could not take it. This is bad Twain. The Twain who just rants on, fueled with bile and devoid of humor. And it is repetitive. How many times does the Yankee have to tell us how dumb the people are during Arthur’s time? Recommended for Impatient Angry Old People.

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John Le Carré – Checked it out from the library and read it in two days. Gripping grim look at the battle of spy versus spy during the Cold War shortly after the Berlin Wall was put up. Few books have kept me so enticed into wanting to see where the story was headed. Recommended for Anyone Who Wants a Good Read.

England, England by Julian Barnes. I had very high hopes for this book. Barnes has a strong reputation as a gifted novelist. This was the first time I’d attempted to read anything by him. The premise sounded very promising, about a businessman who sets up a Resort Version of England on the Isle of Wight; an idealized version of England for tourists to experience. Think Epcot Center on a ginormous scale. I stopped reading after the first 100 pages. I expect more out of a 276 page novel than a lot of boring speechifying that’s supposed to saterize sex, corporate culture, postmodernism, etc. No one was doing anything except talking and the talk, except for a few funny moments, was dull dull dull. Recommended for People Who Like Lots and Lots of Telling With Very Little Showing in Their Fiction.