2017 50 Book Challenge

Discussion in 'Entertainment, Culture, and Sports' started by edinatlanta, Dec 23, 2010.

  1. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    29. Bruno, Chief of Police, by Martin Walker (2008)

    Bruno Courreges is the Chief of Police in the tiny French town of St Denis in the Dordogne. His days are filled with humdrum routine such as helping the market stall holders elude EU food inspectors, and coaching the local junior rugby team. Then a reclusive local man is found executed in his home. Suddenly St Denis is at the centre of a whirlwind of criminal investigations and political game-playing, and Bruno feels obliged to involve himself in the investigation, if only to protect St Denis and its citizens.

    When reading this book it helps to understand that the Chief of Police in the French system is a very minor local functionary, and not the sort of senior officer you might expect. Bruno is like a French Dixon of Dock Green; the real police work is done by the Gendarmerie and the Police Nationale detectives. By placing himself in the centre of the investigation, Bruno exceeds his authority and hence treads on a few toes.

    This is the first of a series of novels, and Martin Walker seems to have created the French version of Midsomer Murders, where a bucolic rural paradise continually becomes the unlikely scene of a major crime, all of which is solved tidily and with a minimum of fuss.

    Unlike the TV show, there is a darker edge to this book, as Walker describes Bruno's grim past as a para serving in Bosnia. This serves to make Bruno a more complex and interesting character, but Walker's plot is pretty straightforward and disappointingly easy to anticipate as it unfolds. Many of the minor characters are stereotypes, and Walker's resolution is a little too unlikely.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2013


  2. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Senior member

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    34. Lucifer's Hammer

    This is the story of several people before and after a devastating comet strike on Earth. Set in the late 60s/early 70s it follows a group of people from LA first learning about, then trying to survive the comet and its wake.

    The book drags harder than a 5 dollar prostitute on cigarettes. There are some great moments (I particularly enjoy the LA socialite part of the book), but a lot of it is incredibly boring, predictable and slowly paced. About 250 good pages crammed into 700. Apparently a classic of the genre (post-apocalypse), but no where even close to something like The Road, or Day of the Triffids.
     


  3. Steve B.

    Steve B. Go Spurs Go

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    Kudos. Good progress is being made by all!
     


  4. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Senior member

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    35. The Yiddish Policeman's Union

    What a great novel. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

    It follows the story of Meyer Landsman, a detective who finds a dead man in the hotel he is living out of. The story follows his journey around Stika (in Alaska) which, instead of Israel, became the place for Jews to live following WW2. The investigation (as in all great detective stories, except Sherlock, that is) goes awry, and becomes infinitely more complex.

    The author (Michael Chandon) has an extremely entertaining, engaging and visceral use of language. I found that even when the story wasn't drawing me in I just loved how he wrote. The detective is divorced, and the descriptions of how he considers he old relationship, in particular, are amazing and beautiful.

    Highly recommended. One of the better books I've read this year.
     


  5. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 60/50: Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö - The Fire Engine that Disappeared (1969)

    A residential building in central Stockholm explodes and is destroyed in a violent fire. One of the residents has been murdered and committed suicide at practically the same time. Detective Martin Beck and his colleagues solve the crime, as usual through slow and tedious police work. This is the 5th novel of 10 in the Beck series of police procedurals. They are all good entertainment with left leaning political messages sprinkled through the stories. Very Swedish and typical of its time.
     


  6. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    30. Orbiting the Giant Hairball, by Gordon MacKenzie (1996)

    A management text with a title like this simply demands to be read. Even more so when it is described by Stanford University professors as the best book on corporate creativity ever.

    Gordon MacKenzie was a long-term employee at Hallmark, serving in a variety of functions in the creative arms of that company. in MacKenzie's world, the Giant Hairball is the agglomeration of rules, policies and procedures that even the most creative organisations devolve into, stifling the potential of their employees. MacKenzie's solution is to go into "orbit" around the Hairball, by operating outside the rules and processes, while still respecting the "gravity" of the organisation's aims. In this way, employees can free up their creative juices and make a bigger contribution.

    This actually takes some doing, as people are heavily conditioned to do the opposite. MacKenzie offers a series of little anecdotes giving examples of how he managed to operate outside Hallmark's stifling norms, whilst still being a valuable employee. Along the way he makes some very good points about our creative urges, how they work, and how easily they can be undermined.

    The book is cleverly presented, with loads of little scribbles and drawings that add to the fun. Highly recommended.
     


  7. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Has it been 15 days since Steve B last read an reviewed a book? A case of intellectual fatigue? Or being caught up in the Spurs baby Spurs phenomenon? 'll be monitoring this.
     


  8. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 61/50: Philip Roth - The Dying Animal (2001)

    A short novel about 64 year old celebrity literature professor David Kepesch, his sex life and erotic fantasies. He strikes up a relationship with one of his students, Consuela, a 20-something Cuban woman whose main assets are a pair of monumental breasts. This is a great book unless you are a devout feminist or indeed a woman. Jealousy, freedom and mastectomy are part of the equation in this entertaining but rather sad story.
     


  9. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 62/50: Philip Roth - The Facts (1988)

    This is Roth's autobiography, mainly dealing with his youth and first horrible marriage to Margaret Martinson and especially its influence on his subsequent writing. Since Roth's novels mostly walk a thin line between autobiography and fiction, the real autobiography feels both fictionalised and somewhat tame in comparison to his best writing. 

    This book often reminds me of Norman Mailer, an intellectual "misunderstood" bully turning himself inside out in flawed attempts to explain himself. It is damn good writing but not very satisfactory as literature.
     


  10. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Clockwise counting 63/50: Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö - Murder at the Savoy (1970)

    A wealthy but shady Swedish business man is shot to death while giving a speech at fashionable Hotel Savoy in Malmö. The government and police headquarters suspect political motives and Detective Martin Beck is called in to solve the case quickly and cleanly. This is the 6th novel of 10 in the series and while it is entertaining, it is also even more political and focused on social injustices compared to the earlier books. A good read but I think I will nevertheless take a break from Sjowall Wahloo for a while.
     


  11. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Senior member

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    36. Rainbows End

    A novel about a former poet (Robert) who suffers from alzeihmer's disease. A cure is invented and he is restored - but he now has to try and navigate a world he barely understands that doesn't care about his art, his reputation or his value.

    Unfortunately, this excellent premise for a story is muddled up by an overbearing, somewhat ridiculous doomsday scenario involving intelligence services, ghost-in-the-shell type personality manipulation and general bullshit. I am thoroughly pissed off that what promised (and started) as an amazing book with near infinite potential to genuinely create something beautiful turned into a schizophrenic mess of plot holes, tangents, sloppy characters and dis-interesting technological bollocks.

    Like great sex finishing prematurely, this writer just isn't grown up enough for his own thematic genius.
    Frown. Town.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2013


  12. Steve B.

    Steve B. Go Spurs Go

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    Yes.
    Yes.
    Yes.
    And a new job with some unexpected unpleasant twists. But I have a Baldacci almost finished and 3 or 4 List books queued up.

    Should still be able to make my goal.
     


  13. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Sorry to hear about the unpleasant twists, it sounds like a Coetzee novel. I have some lengthy travels in the Far East ahead of me, planning to read something thick and meaty while sipping champagne in the business lounges. I still don't have a job so hope to steer clear of the twists, Inshallah.
     


  14. California Dreamer

    California Dreamer Senior member

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    31. How Music Works, by David Byrne (2012)
          
    David Byrne has written a book that is not your typical aging rock star memoir. In How Music Works, the veteran of Talking Heads and a host of solo works gives us his insights into the factors that make music what it is. It's not an easy concept to explain; Byrne is not talking about what makes music good or bad, but about the various influences that cause music to take the forms that it does, and cause us to respond to it the way we do.

    Byrne discusses matters such as the context music is performed in, the instruments and technologies used to perform and record it, business influences, even biology and physics. This is an erudite book, however Byrne includes enough anecdotal material about his own career to leaven things and ensure that the book is not too dry. This is never less than an absorbing read, and precisely what you'd expect from a musician who has always been willing to takes a risk and depart from the expected way of doing things.
     


  15. clockwise

    clockwise Senior member

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    Excellent. Stop making sense.
     


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