RAISING STEAM by Terry Pratchett is a book in his marvellous Discworld series. As in all the books of this series, Sir Pratchett spins an immensely readable yarn centered on the impact of an idea, an invention or the like into Discworld society. The ideas he‚Äôs tackled include the introduction of paper money; the post office; telegraph; deity, religion, and the corruptible priesthood; warfare rooted in ages-old history; terrorism; and in RAISING STEAM the introduction of the steam locomotive. His characters are satirical and humorous, often takes on historical and literary icons, from Machiavelli’s Prince to LoTze to Don Giovanni. Discworld is unlike our own on the surface, but seen through Pratchett‚Äôs satirical lens, the reader finds hilarious commentary on our own world and its foibles. His impressive social intelligence and wicked sense of humor make for an engaging read.
ZONE ONE by Colson Whitehead plays on the archetype of apocalyptic zombie literature. The unnamed protagonist is known as Mark Spitz, because he is afraid to swim. He is a sweeper, someone assigned by the pseudo-government in Buffalo to destroy any zombie AKA skel or catatonic victim AKA straggler of the plague that has destroyed civilization.
What would the world do without Bill Bryson? One simply wants to sit at his knee with a huge grin and listen interminably. I‚Äôm an irredeemable skinflint and get all my reading material from the library, but At Home is one book I would seriously like to buy for myself. Considering I have almost no books apart from reference books, my Complete Shakespeare and a Bible I once found in a discard pile somewhere, that‚Äôs saying quite a lot.
I was in my late thirties when the poet Arthur Rimbaud first crossed my horizon. It was Jim Harrison, the American writer, who brought him to my attention. In his memoir OFF TO THE SIDE, Harrison writes, ‚ÄúI think that I was nineteen when Rimbaud‚Äôs ‚ÄėEverything we are taught is false‚Äô became my modus operandi.‚ÄĚ Harrison continues, ‚Äú…Rimbaud‚Äôs defiance of society was vaguely criminal and at nineteen you try to determine what you are by what you are against.‚ÄĚ I admire Harrison a great deal. If he liked Rimbaud, if Rimbaud was the man, then I needed to know more.
Illusion and reality intersect and overlap to reveal a luminous, mesmerizing character– Le Cirque des R√™ves (The Circus of Dreams). As the sun is the center of the solar system, the Circus of Dreams is the central character of this enchanting tale. Like a magnetic field, Le Cirque des R√™ves pulls in other characters like orbiting satellites around a bright star. This isn’t your childhood circus–rather, this is more in tune with Lewis Carroll or M.C. Escher–a surreal and hypnotic place of the imagination and spirit.
Celia Durst and Djuna Pearson are best friends in middle school and have been queens of their clique since elementary school. They have a very tight, mercurial and labile relationship but they usually get over their fights very quickly. One day, as they are acting out by walking in a wooded area where they aren‚Äôt supposed to go, Djuna and Celia have a fight. Celia walks away from Djuna and moments later Djuna is abducted by a man in a brown car. Three of the other girls from their clique are there and witness this event. Djuna is never seen or heard from again despite extensive police investigation. Celia can never remember the details of the event until she becomes an adult and then her memory of what actually happened is very different from what allegedly transpired.