Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

The Man From Primrose Lane by James Renner

The author of this book, James Renner, is a friend of mine. Reading this book is like watching a freight train barrel toward you and being unable to move, while remembering a time in your past when you watched a freight train barrel toward you, only to wake up to find out there’s a freight […]

Quotes from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

“A rational anarchist believes that concepts such as ‘state’ and ‘society’ and ‘government’ have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals. He believes that it is impossible to shift blame, share blame, distribute blame… as blame, guilt, responsibility are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else. But […]

Advertising versus Lyric Poetry

“There are only so many people capable of putting together words that stir and move and sing. When it became possible to earn a very good living in advertising by exercising this capability, lyric poetry was left to untalented screwballs who had to shriek for attention and compete by eccentricity.” Mitchell Courtenay in Frederick Pohl […]

Old and Young and Old

I remember when I was a battalion intelligence officer in World War II, in Northern Italy. […] We were passing through these little old towns. The houses weren’t big, but all the generations were there. The old weren’t put out to pasture. They were our best means of communication. They were what civilization is about: […]


I talk about Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction too much. By too much, I mean every couple of years. I really should read some other stuff that he’s written, so I don’t get too pseudo-intellectually scholarship-boyish. Like I’m about to. I collect stuff, not a lot, but stuff nonetheless. […]

Gormenghast Weekend

I’ve either got what Bram had, or something from a coworker. Christmas shopping is finished, though I almost got into a fight at the liquor store buying something as a part of my secret santa gift exchange at work. All that I have left to do is further baking. Apparently, chocolate-dipped pretzel sticks are a […]


Here’s a great excerpt from the book I’m currently reading. “This afternoon Sallie’s three youngest pups, Sue’s Sirius, and Mrs. Chippy, the carpenter’s cat, have to be shot. We could not undertake the maintenance of weaklings under the new conditions. Macklin, Crean, and the carpenter seemed to feel the loss of their friends rather badly. […]

A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge

I just finished reading A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge. Since I’ve been cultivating a gestalt knowledge of the science fiction canon for nearly two decades, I was able to notice nods and reflections of past works. The book owes an obvious and huge debt to James Blish’s Cities in Flight, but there […]

City of Illusions

I finally had the chance to try out the Euclid Corridor today, riding the #6 to a Flash ActionScript class at the Cole Center for Continuing Education. When I started at the ISC just over a year ago the director emphasized his encouragement for us to take skill-building classes. If there was an award for […]

The Economic Naturalist by Robert H. Frank

The Economic Naturalist by Robert H. Frank was a fairly easy read and interesting to me from the standpoint of economic ethnography. I don’t know much about economics in an academic sense, but after reading this book and reflecting it is obvious that I use it on a daily basis. In retrospect this makes sense […]

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

I ordered The Road from the library a day before I found out it won the Pulitzer, because of a year-old review from an old copy of Stop Smiling that I picked up at Pitchfork. The Pulitzer notification, coming as it did from a thread about literary critics and their derision for genre fiction, stayed […]

Fargo Rock City by Chuck Klosterman

During unending hours in the back of a conversion van and brief respites on land in Canada I read Chuck Klosterman’s Fargo Rock City. This book was recommended to me by Nate Scheible during a discussion outside of Parish Hall while waiting for a noise show to start and over a few Commodore Perry IPAs. […]

Walker Evans by Belinda Rathbone

This spring/summer seems to be turning into biography time so far. I’ve been picking up books at Visible Voice, and the Walker Evans biography was one of them. For the most part it is an interesting well-written and informative look at the personal life and motivations of my favorite photographer. Chronologically it gets a bit […]

The Children of Húrin

As I wait for Amazon to ship me the latest Tolkien release, The Children of Húrin, I find myself disagreeing with several reviews I’ve read, in terms of placing this work in context with his other stuff. The lede in the Washington Post review: If anyone still labors under the delusion that J.R.R. Tolkien was […]

US Guys

US Guys is a book by journalist Charlie LeDuff; a series of vignettes that are marketed as an examination of manhood and masculinity in American culture. It starts off well enough, the writing is crisp and the observations are fresh and interesting, but by the end Charlie seems to have run out of observations about […]

Captain Adam Barnard’s Planet Harvey

I’ve got a couple of cheap pulp novels that have to do with my name. The first is Donald Barr Chidsey’s Captain Adam: The history of an audacious young seaman from the American colonies who duelled and prayed and sinned his way to magnificent adventure on the lawless seas of the early 18th century! The […]

James Agee

James Agee has long been one of my favorite writers. Recently I received a book of his film criticism from the library. It is published by one of my favorite publishers: The Library of America. Typically I’m not a fan of any particular type of journalism or journalist, but Agee doesn’t really fit a type; […]


Yesterday was a terrible day to be heading west on I-90. I hit Buffalo right after the Bills game got out, had torrential downpours all the way to Cleveland and arrived back in town right when the Browns game finished. People were driving and not-driving like jackasses in the rain. The people pulled over on […]

New Lists

In which Adam talks about a new movie list he has started watching and a possibly new book list to start reading.

Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee

As was recommended to me, I read J. M. Coetzee‘s Disgrace. And indeed it was a good book. Folks seem to like calling Coetzee’s writing “sparse;” and I guess you could say that. I tend to think that writers who are wordy don’t really know what they are trying to say. What comes through with […]

The Unreasoning Mask by Philip José Farmer

The Unreasoning Mask by Philip José Farmer is yet another first edition hardcover I picked up for 50 cents. I’d been impressed with his book To Your Scattered Bodies Go, so when I stumbled across something else by him, and for such a good price, I picked it up. It was alright. I think Mr. […]

Ubik by Philip K. Dick

A few months back I picked up a first edition hardcover of Philip K. Dick’s Ubik for 50 cents. I finally read it, yesterday. It is typical, full of mind-bending Dickisms, so worth a read. Spoilers past the hoo-ha.

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

By recommendation I read Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. It is a novel about the history of philosophy, written in such a way the the concepts from the pre-Socratics through Kant and up to Sartre could be grasped by a juvenile. Spoilers past the jump.

The Cyberiad by Stanisław Lem

Polish science fiction was new to me. Stanisław Lem is great. His Cyberiad is appropriately subtitled Fables for a Cybernetic Age and concerns itself with two wily constructors, Trurl and Klapaucius, who are just stupid enough to get into all kinds of scrapes, and just smart enough to get the best of everyone in the […]

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever by Stephen R. Donaldson

I just finished The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever by Stephen R. Donaldson [who is, incidentally, from Cleveland]. It is comprised of three books: Lord Foul’s Bane, The Illearth War and The Power that Preserves. With this series I have finally, after three years, finished the Science Fiction Book Club list: The Most Significant […]

All My Sins Remembered by Joe Haldeman

All My Sins Remembered is the second book I’ve read by Joe Haldeman. The first, The Forever War, was a really good book about the social and psychological effects of extended space travel when it screws with subjective versus objective time. All My Sins Remembered is similar but different.

The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

The Book of the New Sun is a tetralogy composed of The Shadow of the Torturer, The Claw of The Conciliator, The Sword of the Lictor and The Citadel of the Autarch. It is sort of a blend of both fantasy and science fiction in terms of genre, but with chapter titles like “Eschatology and […]

Norstrilia by Cordwainer Smith

I’ve read everything Cordwainer Smith ever published now. That is somewhat disappointing because I like him and his tenacious stories quite a bit. Norstrilia is one of the classic science fiction books I bought for 10 cents apiece while antique shopping last week.

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

I’ve read a lot of Philip K. Dick and while this novel is supposedly his breakthrough work, The Man in the High Castle is my least favorite of his works. The basic premise is that the United States of America and Britain lost World War II and now the USA is split between Imperial Japan […]

Deathbird Stories by Harlan Ellison

I honestly don’t know why this book was in the Top 50 Science Fiction books list. Deathbird Stories by Harlan Ellison is a collection of short stories that wrestle with gods and worshippers, both new and old, and from different angles.

Children of the Atom by Wilmar Shiras

Wilmar Shiras’s Children of the Atom is a hard book to come by. It had been out of print for quite some time until relatively recently. I now only have four books left to read on this list. Thankfully, I can find them all in the Cleveland library system.

John Brunner – Stand on Zanzibar

I’m currently reading John Brunner‘s Stand on Zanzibar. I managed to get my hands on a first edition in fair condition. Paper wasn’t acid-free in those days, so the paper is getting a little soft, but it is still very readable. First off it reminded me a bit of Samuel R. Delany‘s Dhalgren.

Cordwainer Smith

A few weeks ago I finished reading The Rediscovery of Man, a collection of short stories by Cordwainer Smith. His real name is Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger and he was the godson of Sun Yat Sen, a professor of Asiatic Studies at Johns Hopkins, spoke several languages, wrote the seminal work Psychological Warfare and was […]

Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson

I finished Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson this morning because I woke up at 5am, for no reason, for the third consecutive day. It is a “novel in verse” and a blending of Greek myth and contemporary life.

Poor Things by Alisdair Gray

What a curious book. This guy is layered a bit like an onion and there really isn’t any reason to trust anyone who claims anything in the entire book. The humor is droll, very Scotch, and the type that makes you want to smack the people upside the head for being goofballs. It was an […]

Three Rapid Book Reviews

I’m almost finished with all of the books I received for Christmas. I currently have around 75 pages left to read in Alisdair Gray’s Poor Things and then I have to read Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson and I will be without reading material once again. Here is what I read while my site […]

The Changeling Sea

I finished reading my first Christmas book today. The Changeling Sea by Patricia McKillip. Despite the fact that she writes fantasy aimed at a mainly female audience she remains one of my favorite fantasy authors.


I am still 6 feet, one and one half inches tall, I am 167 pounds, my heartbeat is 71 bpm and my blood pressure is 133/81. I also voted today and am disappointed that I did not receive a sticker.

Book Search

I’ve been running low on things to read lately. Most of the science fiction and especially the fantasy stuff looks like completely shallow and unoriginal tripe. And while there are plenty of other things to read besides science fiction and fantasy, I don’t really know where to start.

Time and Travel and Time Travel

Over the weekend I had a conversation with B rd over at edlundart about time and since then I’ve coincidentally read several short stories dealing with time travel by Michael Swanwick.


I finished reading Ivanhoe the other day. It was good, surprisingly so. I ended up liking the main villain more than any other character.

Half-price Fables

I went to Half Price Books on Friday and managed to not buy the whole store. Instead I bought three illustrated books of fables and folktales. All brand new and all rather cheap.

A Taste of Delany

“There are… two concepts of the artist. The one gives all to his work, in a very real way; if he does not produce volumes, at least he goes through many, many drafts. He neglects his life, and his life totters and sways and often plummets into chaos. It is presumptuous of us to judge […]

The Lathe of Heaven and The Silence in Heaven

I read two books in two days. Yes, I’ve already finished the books I picked up Sunday at the library. Besides both having the word ‘heaven’ in the title and both using the word ‘milquetoast’ in the exposition, they are very different. The Silence of Heaven by Peter Lord-Wolff is a pretty decent first novel. […]

Radio Dada

I’m on rileydog today! I’m almost done reading Louis Aragon’s The Adventures of Telemachus. Apparently, this is also a parody of a story written by Fenelon in 1699. I’ve had previous experience with Dadaist films and visual art, but not literature. This experience has been appropriately strange. Aragon warps everything for his own pleasure. Greco-Roman […]


Minutes ago I finished reading Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. It is, undoubtedly, one of the best science fiction novels I have ever perused. It makes no bones about its status as allegory [which I, like Tolkien, have cordially disliked for some time]. But it does not strike me as an allegory […]

Fritz Leiber

I’ve been wending my way through Fritz Leiber’s refreshing short story fantasy lately. I consider myself somewhat of a connosieur of otherworldly literature, and Fritz, I must say, is not a stale author. Much fantasy is either bad Tolkien imitation or based on an RPG of some sort. Needless to say, I’d rather read Tolkien […]

Philip K. Dick

This is the summer of sci-fi for me. Last year was the beat generation, and distopias. Philip K. Dick could somehow qualify in each of those categories. What I find most interesting however, is the ease with which his stories are converted into films. Blade Runner is based on his novel Do Androids Dream of […]

Childhood’s End

I’ve been burning my way through the Top 50 Science Fiction books of the last 50 years. I’ve recently read Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, Williams Gibson’s Neuromancer, and Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire. Currently I am reading Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. I am 28% finished with the list. Last […]

Quality Reading

Every morning, one of the first things I do is read the funnies. I do this online using I read Boondocks, Foxtrot, and Non Sequitur. Since yahoo provides me with plenty of other options to access, I have chosen to take advantage of a few. One of these is the Barnes and Noble Showcase. […]


Went to the library again. Got Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon; The Complete poems of Carl Sandburg; and a selection of short stories by Philip K. Dick. As I was checking out, I was checked out by the librarian. She hit on me last time I was there as well. I was wearing me Heathen […]

Summer Reading

The Summer Reading List currently contains: High Fidelity – Nick Hornby Ulysses – James Joyce The Hawkline Monster – Richard Brautigan The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks His Dark Materials Trilogy – Philip Pullman Gravity’s Rainbow – Thomas Pynchon The Corrections – Jonathan Franzen Something by Kafka I’m always taking suggestions as well, especially poetry. […]

The Bell Jar

I finished The Bell Jar last night. I can’t really say that it blew me away. The obvious autobiographical references to Plath’s own life were rather…obvious, and the depiction of mental decay and rebirth didn’t do much for me either. Granted, since the narrator is the crazy one, the narrative is going to be colored […]


Bulletmania! I’ve played The Two Towers video game. B+ (the levels are too short). This post by Mr. Oblivio is great. My Uncle Corbin is here for the ND v. Seton Hall game and will be feeding me shortly. She called my house last night but I was already up here. I suck. This semester […]

Nausea II

I don’t listen to them anymore: they annoy me. They’re going to sleep together. They know it. Each one knows that the other knows it. But since they are young, chaste and decent, since each one wants to keep his self- respect and that of the other, since love is a great poetic thing which […]


upon rereading Nausea i am interested in the existentialist take on regret. Roquentin seems less alienated to me than he did the last time i visited him, instead he seems more concerned with what used to be and what has changed. he does not accept this change to Nausea and mourns for his past. is […]

Crossroads of Twilight

Robert Jordan’s newest Crossroads of Twilight will be released on the seventh. and i must say that i am ready. since i started his Wheel of Time series in 1994 and it offers very few signs of impending closure, i have become slightly impatient and perturbed and even at times apathetic regarding the series. it […]

Book Review: Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves

i’m not one who has much knowledge of literary trends in novel-writing but House of Leaves strikes me as a book that could very well be the great work of postmodern literature. which means everything and nothing. as an experimental novel it is a remarkably well constructed thing. i had a bit of trouble getting […]

Screams of Reason

i’m about 75% through Screams of Reason by David Skal. Its mostly about Hollywood’s fascination with mad science. Its ok. but a good shot in the dark by my mother who bought it for me. i can see many different tracks where expansion and deeper academic discourse would add some insights but it is pretty […]

Renshai Chronicles

after a summer filled with reading works considered to be fine pieces of literature, my return to the books i have enjoyed the most, fantasy novels, is bittersweet. i relish the stories for their entertainment value, but now they are starting to seem a little…juvenile. perhaps this is just due to the books i am […]

Atlas Shrugged: Day 2

Day 2: On page 182 of Atlas Shrugged, I figured out who John Galt was. Major Objection: 18% of the way through the book. The story only holds my interest because of the characters’ internal dialogues. Character development does not seem to be Ayn Rand’s strong point and her use of narrative device only seems […]

Brave New World

It was simply and well written and I was impressed with Huxley’s knowledge and insights into social conditioning, yet as the author himself said in his foreward, it has many flaws. I am now convinced that every utopia is at the same time an antiutopia. Granted, Huxley presents a world free of virtue or vice, […]

US History and Extra Credit

Yesterday, I read Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs. It has been on my list of books to read since Dr. Ledman’s US History class junior year of high school when Phil correctly answered one of his father’s ridiculous extra credit questions. They never had anything to do with US history per se and were […]

A Clockwork Orange

5.30.02 INT. NIEUWLAND SCIENCE BUILDING 2:14pm DAY it took awhile to get used to the malenky slovos in A Clockwork Orange but once i got it through my gulliver to understand what it meant to go out with your droogies and use your rooker in order to tolchock some grahzny veck and smeck about while […]

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

5.26.02 EXT. MOD QUAD. 6:03pm DAY i think the extreme conservatism here at Notre Dame has made more of a liberal out of me. the hypocrisy, bureaucracy, and oppressive nature of ‘tradition’ that i am constantly faced with has slowly forced me from my rather apolitical fencesitting into a slightly more radical stance where i […]

The Road Home

5.9.02 INT. KEOUGH HALL RM 435 1:00pm DAY all of the marmosets are gone, and so am i. this won’t be updated until i am back on the 20th. for those of you who want to know, here is my summer reading list as it stands now (feel free to add to it). fritz leiber; […]