Sunday, September 13, 2009


The G-N Edition

"Generation Kill" b. Evan Wright- That's right, it was a book before it was one of the most awesome HBO mini-series events. I rarely do this, but I recommend watching the show then reading the book. It helped me keep the soldiers straight (and truthfully, and excuse to imagine Alexander Skarsgaard is a good one!). What is great about this book is that Wright doesn't just report but participates. I'm always a little weary of war books. They're either boring, or they misrepresent the facts. My barometer of accuracy is my Dad. Since he was actually in a war, and taught history, and is a writer; I figure he will always set me straight. His personal take on this book is: awesome. To him, this represented how soldiers fill there time, how they interact with each other. You learn how they really feel about the war, about their officers. See also: the first 20 minutes of "Saving Private Ryan" which he said is the first time he's heard gun fire that actually sounded like real gunfire. He could sympathize with those vets who found that scene difficult to watch.

"The Girl on the Fridge: Stories" b. Etgar Keret- One of my favorite movies (and I believe on my list previously published here), is "Wristcutters: A Love Story". That film was based on a short story by Keret. My library didn't have it, so I went with this top rated collection instead. I love short stories. They fit perfectly into a smoke break, bathroom break, lunch break, just before bed, or in between commercials. What I loved about this book more than others, was the authors willingness to let the story lead him. What I mean by that is: Sometimes a story was 12 pages, sometimes 3, and you never felt cheated or overwhelmed. he has a quirky style that resonates with the sub-cultural aspect in all our lives.
"Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch" b. Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett- I had a really hard time picking which Gaiman books to include. He is without a doubt one of my favorite authors of all time. I went with "Good Omens" because it introduced the collaboration of Gaiman (influential Comic god) an Pratchett (influential and much loved sci-fi/fantasy god). The story follows the battle between Heaven and Hell for earth and more importantly, for a specific young boy. The title refers to the prophecy by said witch over which way this battle ends. I loved it, especially the relationship between the Demon and the Angel who team up as the original "Odd Couple" to stop the whole thing from even happening. Gaiman brings his level of mythology with him and it couples nicely with the humor so beloved by Pratchett.
"I Am Legend" b. Richard Matheson- Forget the Will Smith movie (please), and the Vincent Price movie (really good actually), and the Charleton Heston movie. This is so much better. You probably know the story: Man and dog must battle for survival in a post apocalyptic world against legions of vampires. What's brilliant about this printing are the short stories that follow. Several of them are on the list for best I've ever read.

"Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly" b. Anthony Bourdain- I heart Anthony Bourdain. I have read all his books and cannot miss an episode of "No Reservations". This, his first book, delves into what made him the chef and person he is today. It follows a young boy cooking on the Jersey shore to the man who became executive chef at one of New York's great restaurants, Les Halles. If you've ever worked in a restaurant (no, fast food does not count), you will love the kitchen banter recognize the front of house to back of house tensions. If you haven't, first of all- shame on you! Everyone should work in a restaurant for at least 2 weeks (I'm not a sadist! Any longer than that could crush most people). Secondly, you will love this peek into how food gets to your plate and maybe think twice before you mistreat your waiter or chef. Love it!!

"The Lottery: And Other Stories" b. Shirley Jackson- It seems a lot of my recommendations this week have been made into movies. Jackson was an influence to any of your favorite horror authors. Her story, "The Lottery", deals with superstition and small town America with an ending that will still shock you 51 years after it was first published. The central theme of the story will seem familiar to anyone who's seen "Logan's Run" or read "The Hunger Games", but it's Jackson's writing that separates it from the rest. A must!

"Memoirs of a Beatnick" b. Diane di Prima- di Prima was a contemporary of Ginsberg and Burrough's but her name is not mention in the modern lexicon of the Beat generation. Why? Perhaps it because she was a woman in a man's world. Perhaps not. What can be said is that her memoir is a gripping tale of a young woman alone in New York looking for love and creative freedom. I love everything about it. Even if your not a fan of the genre, the book is a great portal into the mind and life of someone on the front lines.

"Mythology" b. Edith Hamilton- We all read some Greek and Roman mythology in school and for most, it ended there. Hamilton's collection is complete and easy to read. My favorite: "Pyramus and Thisbe"- the basis for Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet". Lovely.
"The Neverending Story" b. Michael Ende- To the best of my knowledge this book is out of print. Bummer, but it is worth keeping your eyes peeled at used book stores and online. While the movie is a youth classic, the book is completely different (much in the way Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" is similar but totally unrelated to Carroll's book). It's a lot darker for one. I love the story of Bastian and Atreyu. I randomly scream out "Artex!" when the conversation gets low. I named my sisters dog Falkor. Seriously, I love this book.

The Nightwatch Series b. Sergei Lukyanenko- Kazakhstanian author and Russian hero Lukyanenko wrote the greatest series about the supernatural world I've ever read. Big surprise! It was made into two movies by Timur Bekmambetov which went on to become the #1 and #2 highest grossing films in Russian history (and for good reason- the FX are out of this world!). The premise seems simple: everything you were ever told to be afraid of that lurks in the dark is real. Good news, they have their own police system: The Night Watch (light others who watch what the dark ones do) and The Day Watch (dark others policing the light ones). A prophecy tells of a young other who will forever change the world and both watches want him for their own. There are 4 books in the series currently available in the U.S. and watching the movies first or never will not help you. They only follow two parts of the first book. These are definitely books to take care reading and almost demand a re-read. You will not be bored or feel lazy at all!

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