Recently Read - December 18th 2006

Here's a list of the books I've read recently, with an Amazon-style star rating and a few comments.

  • The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde

    Another recommendation (thanks Steve). This is the first in the series featuring Literary Detective Thursday Next. It's a blend of alternate history, laugh-out-loud humor, science fiction, fantasy, crime fiction and literature appreciation. Complete with a time travelling dad, dodos, vampires and werewolves, crazy inventions and characters from famous books coming to life, it's non-stop entertainment.

    It does help if you know your famous literature; Jane Eyre in particular for this book. I hadn't read it, so I had to keep asking my wife questions like, "so do Jane and Rochester get together at the end?" and "does he get injured?" Knowing the answers, I got an even better appreciation of what Fforde has achieved.

    There are word plays and literary quips everywhere. I'm sure I missed lots of them. Having a good background in things like Welsh and Crimean history, and knowing there really is a service station on the M4 called Leigh Delamere do help.

    Sections did indeed remind me of Monty Python, just like the blurb on the book cover said. The Richard III production brought to mind the Rocky Horror theatre audience participation events, and I wished I could have seen it done for real.

    Wonderful stuff. I see he's also sprinkled the book with things that no doubt will be returned to in the sequels.

    Don't forget to check out the thoughly entertaining website and its companions for more information.

  • Will Rogers: His Life and Times - Richard M Ketchum

    Our son Duncan recently had to do a book report on "Famous Americans". Part of his study material included a list of such people. All the usual suspects were there: Abraham Lincoln, Amelia Earhart, George Washington Carver, Paul Revere and so on. No mention of this man though, even though he was a close personal friend of several others on the list (Charles Lindbergh, FDR, Henry Ford). Perhaps the list should be updated...

    Will Rogers is another of my heroes. I bought this book at a library book sale initially because it was a nice leather bound hardback with its own special leather slip cover. I'm glad I did.

    He was a cowboy philosopher. A star of stage, screen and radio. But he was much more than that. Initially a master rope trick artist, he toured the world as part of travelling "Wild West" road shows. He then became a star of vaudeville with the Ziegfeld Follies, doing his rope tricks and just talking about anything and everything. He also starred in several silent films, then when the "talkies" started up, he quite naturally moved on to them. He became the #1 Hollywood box office star in the early 30's.

    He was also the voice of the common man in America. It had a daily column in the New York Times and did numerous lecture tours and radio shows where he just read the newspapers and humorously wrote or talked about them. He could take any subject and make it interesting and funny. He was asked to run for president but declined, as he had a very low opinion of politicians. Who knows what he might have achieved if he hadn't died in a plane crash in Alaska in 1935.

    The book is more that a chronological account of his life. It captures the events in the U.S and the rest of the world at that time, than helped shape who Rogers was. For me though, it was the pictures that made this book. They helped take you back, to that completely different era.

Similar posts:
[Dec 12th 2006]
[Oct 2006 - Nov 2006]
[Aug 2006 - Sep 2006]
[June 2006 - July 2006]
[April 2006 - May 2006]
[Feb 2006 - Mar 2006]
[Dec 2005 - Jan 2006]
[Oct 2005 - Nov 2005]
[Jul 2005 - Sep 2005]
[May 2005 - Jun 2005]

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