Whateverth five books


030) Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, finished October 4

My big regret is not reading this in high school, when it was new and fresh, and right after I read Neuromancer. That would have been ideal, I think. As it is, it's taken me a long long time to finally get around to reading it. And I liked it, but I'm also rather grossly disappointed.

I'm not disappointed because it is not a satire of cyberpunk as I had been led to believe. It's actually a satire of modern America and it's pretty spot-on.

Neither am I disappointed because it takes place in what is now a past that never happened.

And I'm not disappointed because the book fell short in terms of action or ideas, neither of which would be true. (In fact, the ideas are so strong that it took me quite a while to realize how utterly ridiculous they are. Which makes me wonder if I had read it in high school and, being younger, had not realized they were ridiculous, if I would have liked the book better.)

No, the real reason I'm disappointed is because this is my first Neal Stephenson book and it was a fun read but it didn't change my life which means I'm unlikely to ever read, say, Cryptinomicon. I'll probably try him again with something shorter (assuming such a thing exists) someday and go from there, but for a book that was supposed to recreate my interactions with reality and fiction, well, it just couldn't live up to that kind of billing and so I am left disappointed.

My fault.

two or three weeks


029) Song/Cycles by Mormon Artists Group, finished Sept. 15

Unlike Mormoniana, this book of commissioned art music by MAG does not come with an included cd. Which is tragic, of course, but understandable. Properly recording all this music is substantially more complex than having one pianist who can just run through everything a couple times and call it good. But you should still listen the the clips they've placed online because they are lovely: (click).

The copy I have is the not-expensive version (it belongs to the one-and-only Recession Cone who is a proper musiciany-type fellow and even he didn't understand all the notation herein) and I'm sorry to say that the printing is lousy. The music is pixelated --- not to the point where it can't be read, but badly enough to be annoying.

The poetry (also pixelated) is excellent. Sadly, I can't really comment on the music because I can't really look at a piece of music and hear it, but the poetry is topnotch. I was particularly impressed by Susan Howe's and Elaine M. Craig's poetry, but maybe that's just because they were the first two poets. By the time I got to the others (Glen Nelson, Javen Tanner, Lance Larsen, Will Reger), I had come to expect brilliance of a Howe/Craigesque nature so was merely not disappointed? Perhaps.

The composers are Harriet Petherick Bushman, David H. Sargent, Murray Boren, Lansing McLoskey, Daniel Bradshaw and Charis Bean Duke.

Check it out.

(Note: I will be discussing this soon with different details on A Motley Vision.)

four days


028) The Complete Peanuts 1973-1974 by Charles M. Schulz, finished September 6

The experience of reading these books has changed over the years. In the early volumes, I was always giddy with excitement when, say, Linus was introduced. Or the first time Snoopy had a thought. Or stood up. Now that excitement has passed. And I can only appreciate the strips for what they are meant to be: witty, insightful, cutting, sweet, charming, dangerous, hilarious, timely, timeless, terrific.

This particular volume contained a lot of the strips I had in books growing up. I had a couple inherited from older cousins and read them over and over again, so Sally's conversations with the school had a sweet familiarity, etc. In about fifteen more years we'll arrive in the era where I read every single strip as it hit newspapers and I'm curious to discover how I will feel about those strips. Ones I may have read only once, but that exist somewhere deep inside of me.

When I was about 12, for a few years I cut the best strip of the day from the newspaper and kept them in a box. Peanuts, Calvin, The Far Side --- these were the strongest competitors. Clearly I had good taste. But I'm curious if I would select the same strips now. Anyway, off topic. The point is, I'm still enjoying these books.


a month


027) Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, finished September 5

I just can't decide how I feel about these books. Sure, they're a hopalong read and this and that, but they're also filled with logistical holes and cheap tricks. I certainly don't blame anyone for loving them because as entertainment they're nonstop funfunfun of the most horrifying sort. But . . . .

Yet I can't just dismiss them because, in some ways, its most dissatisfying attributes are its greatest strength and the more thrilling portions are often holey.

two days


026) Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, finished September 2

It's kind of fun to prioritize a book that I'm reading purely for pleasure. Although this one wasn't very pleasurable. Collins yanks her readers a lot in this one, including, at one point, making me extremely angry at her.

For a long time in this book, I could not figure out what the heck the story arc was going to be. When I did find out, I was pissed off. And then it failed to be as thrilling as book one. In other words, this volume suffers from a serious case of middle-of-the-trilogy syndrome. And I'm still not sure I believe any of it. And I'm a big believer in working hard to suspend disbelief.

All that said, these books are still too fun/frustrating to leave alone. I'll read the last volume, probably starting tonight. But I'm less interested in Underland now.

Here's the thing. Collins comes out with brilliant moments. Just genius. Then she turns to cheap tricks next. And although I like the world she's built, I'm not convinced she's really thought it out thoroughly. You know, how they get by on what resources, etc. I'm not big on books needing maps, but in this case it would give me some more confidence that she's actually thought these things through. For instance, MAJOR SPOILER, how's the Capitol supposed to function without coal, which seems to be their only energy source, huh?

But, again, there's one book left. I'll withhold judgment till then.

two days although possible under twenty-four hours

Previously in 2010 . . . . :

040) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, finished September 1
039) Buy Ketchup in May and Fly at Noon: A Guide to the Best Time to Buy This, Do That and Go There by Mark Di Vincenzo, finished August 28
038) Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut, finished August 25
037) In the Void by Michael R. Collings, finished August 21
036) Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome, finished August 18
035) Utah: Sex and Travel Guide by Calvin Grondahl, finished August 10
034) E Pluribus Unicorn by Theodore Sturgeon, finished August 9
033) The Complete Peanuts, 1971 to 1972 by Charles M. Schulz, finished August 6
032) I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells, finished August 6
031) Rogue Clone by Steven L. Kent, finished July 26
030) Servant of a Dark God by John Brown, finished July 21
029) Drink Me, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Blog by James Goldberg, finished June 9
028) Out of the Mount (tentative title) edited by Davey Morrison, finished June 8
027) Madman Boogaloo! by Mike Allred, Mike Baron, Bernie Mireault, Steve Rude; finished June 2
026) The Education of Robert Nifkin by Daniel Pinkwater, finished May 22
025) True Grit by Charles Portis, finished May 21
024) Old Man's War by John Scalzi, finished May 15
023) Pandora's Nightmare: Horror Unleashed, finished May 13
022) Anthem by Ayn Rand, finished May 11
021) Look! It's Jesus!: Amazing Holy Visions in Everyday Life by Harry Choron and Sandra Choron, finished May 9
020) Travels in the Scriptorium: A Novel by Paul Auster, finished May 5
019) Suburban Folklore by Steven Walters, finished May 4
018) The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall, finished April 30
017) Gracie: A Love Story by George Burns by George Burns, finished April 20
016) The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley, finished April 15
015) Dispensation: Latter-Day Fiction edited by Angela Hallstrom, finished March 24
014) The Best American Comics 2009 edited by Charles Burns, finished March 22
013) Icon: A Hero's Welcome by Dwayne McDuffie and MD Bright, finished March 17
012) There's Treasure Everywhere by Bill Watterson, finished March 15
011) Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool. Finished right at midnight between March 13 and 14
010) Teen Titans: Year One by Amy Wolfram et al, finished March 7
009) The Complete Calvin and Hobbes, Book One by Bill Watterson, finished March 6
008) Apparition & Late Fictions: A Novella and Stories by Thomas Lynch, finished March 5
007) Stone Rabbit #1: BC Mambo by Erik Craddock, finished March 2
006) The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet by Reif Larsen, finished February 23
005) Missile Mouse 2 by Jake Parker (MS POLICY), finished February 5
004) Heroes of the Fallen by David J. West, finished February 4
003) Still Life in Milford by Thomas Lynch, finished January 19
002) Rapunzel's Revenge by Hales Shannon Dean and Nathan, finished January 16
001) Mormoniana by Mormon Artists Group, finished January 13


  1. Interesting random fact: I picked up Cryptonomicon to read several years ago because a) Petra told me to, and b) Snow Crash so greatly disappointed me that I figured anything else would be any improvement. In what is, for me, a rare instance, this logic actually proved right. Just sayin'.

    Also, I completely agree with you about Collins and cheap tricks. (My sister and I got into a bit of an...ahem...heated discussion about Mockingjay this weekend when I returned her copy to her. "Isn't it brilliant that it was all a game in the end?" was the gist of her reaction. Mine was more: "Isn't it aggravating that she ended up treating it all as a game?" My sister insisted that President Snow was the only rebel with ulterior motives blah blah blah, it all works out in the end... Meanwhile, I'm irritated at Collins because she took a potentially interesting if flawed character and used her as nothing more than a pawn.)

    And I'm not sure why all of that ended up being a parenthetical, but whatever.

  2. I was also told to read Cryptonomicon before Snow Crash, which I did. I probably wouldn't have read anything else by Stephenson unless I'd done it that way, so...

    I don't know how Cryptonomicon will play AFTER Snow Crash, but don't give up on the idea of reading it.

    And now for something COMPLETELY different (yet still Neal Stephenson), read The Big U even if you never want to read any Stephenson ever again.


  3. I have considered picking up Cryptonomicon for quite awhile, its been gathering dust on its highway sized binding-which is why I haven't started it.

    Your reactions to Collin's has probably sealed the deal for me that I never will pick them up-I don't mind the spoilers from Confuzzled at all either-just enough for me to be assured with my hunch and your review.

  4. .

    It's been less than 12 hours since I finished Snow Crash and I can already tell that it's going to grow on me in memory. So there's that.

  5. .

    A part of my discussion I left out of Snow Crash is how impressed I was with the elements of Now.2010 that he correctly guessed. Sure, he got some things wrong --- every futurist will (no payphones anymore, surprise!) but even though in many respects he overshot the present, he did a great job of guessing what it would mean.

  6. It's Catching Fire not Chasing Fire.

  7. I have read Snow Crash and The Diamond Age and it seems to me that Stephenson has a problem with endings.