Posts Tagged ‘death’

15. “I am Not A Serial Killer,” Dan Wells

May 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Fifteen-year-old John Wayne Cleaver is not a serial killer– but he feels the monster deep inside that tells him he will be one if he lets his vigilance down. When bodies start turning up in his small town, he is thrilled to get to see the work of a serial killer up close as he helps his mortician mother to prepare the bodies. But soon his interest begins to go too far as he tries to find out more about the killer and how he does his work, John can feel his rules decaying. And finally he must decide whether he wants to be the killer he can feel inside.

This was a quick read. A fifteen-year-old protag makes it feel like young adult lit, but it was in general circ. One good thing about this book: No one tried to speak to me on the train while I was reading it.

Page count: 271
Page total: 4,108


69. “Across A Hundred Mountains,” Reyna Grande

October 30, 2010 1 comment

Juana and Adelina are two young Mexican women, one who grew up in Mexico, the other in El Otro Lado. Both are struggling to escape their difficult pasts, while trying to reunite with the fathers who left them for another country.

I read this for my class about ghosts in US literature and there is definitely something very haunting about this book. One night before her father gets home from working in the fields, Juana’s cabin begins to flood. Her mother leaves Juana’s baby sister with her and goes to look for Juana’s father. The two huddle all night on a table in their flooded home, but their parents do not return. Finally, Juana drifts off to sleep, only to be awakened by her mother’s screams. Her sister fell from her grasp in the night and drowned.

In order to pay for the funeral, Juana’s father must look for a job in the US. He leaves Juana and her mother on Juana’s twelfth birthday. Mourning for her lost child and absent husband, Juana’s mother slips into despair and the family, further into poverty. The longer her husband is gone, the worst she gets until finally Juana decides she must leave to bring her father back.

Page count: 255
Total pages: 20,634

25. “Hunger: An Unnatural History,” Sharman Apt Russell

May 8, 2010 Leave a comment

An interesting book, but one that didn’t really capture me. It began with a frame about the author’s own body during a fast, but it didn’t continue, despite what the table of contents led me to believe. That’s all and good by me, though, as a first-person account of hunger isn’t what I was looking for.

There were some very interesting anecdotes– especially the Minnesota hunger experiments, which have spawned more than a few searches of the BPL databases, but the first and third parts dragged for me. The concept of hunger artists is weird and interesting, though. Apparently it was all the rage for people to do David Blaine-esque stunts where they set up in the town square and didn’t eat for a month just to show they could.

Page count: 230
Page total: 6,172

14. “Airframe,” Michael Crichton

March 14, 2010 Leave a comment

I don’t know if I had read this before. It is after the later fashion of Crichton’s work (think “Next”), where a few days are broken down to four hundred pages. This one follows a VP for an airplaine manufacturer trying desperately to prove that her plane is not to blame for a commercial airline crash.

Intrigue, of course, follows.

Page count: 393

Page total: 3,540

9. “A Heart-Breaking Work of Staggering Genius,” Dave Eggers

January 6, 2010 1 comment

Remember all those times I said I liked Dave Eggers?

I was badly mistaken.

Listen, friend, I have a lot of paranoid fantasies, too, but funny as I think they are, I don’t write four-hundred-page “memoirs” populated almost entirely with anecdotes that didn’t happen and maddeningly self-conscious (and repetitive!) monologues.

So this (purported) memoir is begins with both of Eggers’ parents dying of different forms of cancer a few weeks apart. Eggers, at twenty-two, agrees to take over raising his eight-year-old brother Toph and Eggers, Toph, and their older siblings Beth and Bill all move from the Chicago suburb where they grew up to California.

This book mostly follows Eggers adventures in raising Toph while attempting to have a normal social life, not be turned in to CPS, and creating a magazine (Might– “power and potential”), in, as I said, some incredibly self-conscious prose. Several times Eggers, inside of dialogue he is “quoting” will start reflecting on how if course this didn’t happen like that, but this makes for a better metaphor or symbolism or is better-paced this way.

All of this basically has the effect of making me constantly flip back to the front cover and wonder if the bit of text proclaiming that the book was short-listed for a Pulitzer is as tongue-in-cheek as the title itself. (By the way, I kept forgetting the title of this and my latest mangling is “A Heart-Stopping Work of Unstopable Whatever.”)

The first half sort of bothered me, but when I got to page 200 and Eggers says in one of those dialogues that didn’t happen that the second half of the book is even more self-conscious, it was all I could do not to shout “more self-conscious than this!” on the train. Because the book started with “Rules and Suggestions for Enjoyment of This Book.” Which would have been funny. If it were not thirty-five pages long.

My recommendation: skip anything where Eggers pretends to be himself (he can’t possibly actually be this awful) and stick with the short stories, which are often pretty lovely.

Page count: 472
Page total: 2,075

PS, Dave:

“Stop Being So Religious”
by Hafiz

Do sad people have in

It seems
They have all built a shrine
To the past

And often go there
And do a strange wail and

What is the beginning of

It is to stop being
So religious



60. “World War Z,” Max Brooks

September 15, 2009 3 comments

This audiobook had a full cast reading it, which was really awesome for an oral history. It also had some creepy atmospheric music (like “The Haunting of Hill House,” which expired before I could finish it, so this may be its only mention). My favorite of the histories was the pilot whose plane crashed in the bayou. I usually listen to the book while I’m waiting to fall asleep (an endevour that often takes an hour or more), and this one was so vivid. I don’t typically get pictures in my head while reading, but I could see that one.

Brooks did a good job capturing the voices of people in many different cultures (though the voice actresses and actors may have helped, too).

I’d really recommend both the book and audiobook.

Page count: 352
Page total: 23,972

56. “The Zombie Survival Guide,” Max Brooks

August 24, 2009 1 comment

Once again, while reading I frequently forgot that these things weren’t really happening. When reading over my friend ryan’s while he went to get coffee, I paused during the home defense chapter to get a slice of pizza. Ryan opened the door from the garage and my heart stopped.

This book was also my first experience with the Boston Public Library’s e-book resources and Mobipocket Reader. I am completely fucking obsessed.

Page count: 288
Page total: 23,152