Read in 2002:
A. Salon's top 10 in 2001 (all library books) (TOTAL: 9 books):
Paula Fox, "Borrowed Finery" A very fine memoir. Heartbreaking. Highly recommended.
Ann Patchett, "Bel Canto" A disturbing novel. Fairly well written. Even thought I should have seen it coming, the ending deeply irritated me.
Edmonds & Eidnow, "Wittgenstein's Poker" Historical account of the war of ideas between Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper. Fairly entertaining. Good but not great.
Colson Whitehead, "John Henry Days" An excellent novel that displays real literary potential. Whitehead was awarded a Macarthur "genius" award this year and I will definitely read his next book whenever it emerges.
Kelly Link, "Stranger Things Happen" I didn't care for this one at all. A very irritating style of writing. Self-indulgent in my opinion.
Laura Hillenbrand, "Seabiscuit" Surprisingly delightful and engrossing. Highly recommended.
Jonathan Franzen, "The Corrections" It's been several months since I finished this book and I still can't decide whether I liked it or not. It certainly was interesting and well written, but it just didn't feel like real literature to me. I've read his two previous novels and I certainly will read his next book.
W G Sebald, "Austerlitz" For some reason this book left me totally cold. I read all the way through it waiting to find something that interested me, but found nothing.
David McCullough, "John Adams" Audio cassette from library. This unabridged edition ran to 21 tapes and while the writing was fascinating throughout the reader's voice got quite irritating to me by the end of the book. He was a good reader, but there was just too much of him! John Adams in my opinion was a good man but not a great man and he made the absolute most of his abilities. McCullough goes to great lengths to bring the other founding fathers down a peg or two to make his subject seem the brighter star in the sky, but that's the only ciritism I have of this well written, enjoyable and enlightening work of American History. It's probably the brest book of the nine Salon top ten I have read.
B. Wodehouse (TOTAL: 5 books):
P G Wodehouse, "Enter Jeeves" A Dover paperback, reprinting the seven Reggie Pepper stories and the first eight Jeeves short stories. All 15 were published in magazines on both sides of the Atlantic between 1915 and 1918. Utterly delightful.
P G Wodehouse, "Louder and Funnier" Essays published in Vanity Fair prior to 1920, collected in book form by Wodehouse in 1932. Some great stuff here.
P G Wodehouse, "The Man With Two Left Feet" This is the British edition which includes several stories not found in any other volume. Two of the rarities are told from the point of view of a dog who calls himself "The mixer" because he loves to mix with people. These are great stories, still funny nearly a century after they were written.
P G Wodehouse, "Four Plays" The introduction reveals that Wodehouse wrote 18 plays besides his nearly 100 works of fiction. The four presented here are all delightful, especially the first -- "The Play's the Thing." This was adapted from a hungarian play, and contains very modern Pirandello-like efforts at tearing down the "fourth wall" while still keeping the renowned Wodehousian humor intact.
P G Wodehouse, "Luck of the Bodkins" Written during the peak Wodehouse period of the early 1930s. The action takes place almost entirely onboard a ship sailing from England to America. Delightful characters and many laugh out loud scenes.
C. Other Fiction (TOTAL: 5 and 1/2 books):
Calvin Trillen, "Tepper Isn't Going Out" Library book. Very short and incredibly witty. A tiny masterpiece from a very underestimated writer. Highly recommended.
James Lasdun, "The Horned Man" Library book. Recommended by Cliff. Very well written but extremely creepy. I think it gave me nightmares!
Ian McEwan, "Atonement" Loaned to me by Paul, also recommended by Cliff. Very well written British novel. I liked it quite a bit, but not as much as Cliff and Paul liked it.
Noel Coward, "Private Lives" A play, on audio cassette, borrowed from the library. Very clever and amusing.
Carter Scholz, "Radiance" Library book. I can't remember who recommended this. Possibly someone on the Pynchon-list. I only got half way through before I lost interest and returned it to the library.
Eric Rolfe Greenberg, "The Celebrant" Loaned to me by Paul. An entertaining novel written around the baseball life of Christy Mathewson as witnessed by a Jewish family of jewelers.
D. Other Non Fiction (TOTAL: 13 and 1/2 books):
Barbara Ehrenreich, "Nickled and Dimed" Library book. Recommended by several people, including Molly Ivins and Madeline Reddy. An excellent expose on the working poor of America. Highly recommended.
Akira Kurawsawa, "Something Like An Autobiography" A present from Angela. Interesting in it's accounts of pre and post WWII Japan. Less than revealing as to what made Kurosawa one of the greatest film directors of all time. He is far too humble to brags about his many innovations. Plus he ends the book way too early in his career.
Noam Chomsky, "9-11" A present from Robert. A short group of interviews Chomsky gave shortly after the World Trade Center tragedy. His points are absolutely valid, ie even America, which has many things in history to be proud of, has done some terrible things in the past. International crimes must be put in some kind of perspective.
Molly Ivins, "You Gotta Dance With Them that Brung You" Audio cassette gift from Jeanne. A delightful group of essays written during the Clinton years. Highly recommended.
Tom Tomorrow, "When Penguins Attack" A present from Angela. No cartoonist exposes the evils of right-wing thinking as wonderfully as Tom Tomorrow. Highly recommended.
Tom Tomorrow, "Greetings From This Modern World" a present from Angela. This was Tom Tomorrow's first collection. It sumarizes the last years of the first Bush administration and the saddest part is that not much has changed either in the media nor in the ways of the republihypocretans.
Bill Cole, "Coltrane" A present from Angela. Interesting brief biography of a jazz genius.
Ian Stewart, "Flatterland" Library book. I took it out for Thomas to read and after he read it, he challenged me to read it as well. It is an interesting (but at times impossible to understand) tour of modern higher mathematics, told in the form of a story, like Abbott's "Flatland" of a century ago.
Mark Crispin Miller, "The Bush Dyslexicon" Library book recommended by Molly Ivins among others. Shows the evil behind the stupid things Bush says. Highly recommended.
Michael Moore, "Downsize This" A gift from Doug. Moore's first book is very entertaining and enlightening in it's attack on big business.
Michael Moore, "Stupid White Men" Another gift from Doug. Moore's second book is even more entertaining than his first. It's tough to agree with everything Moore comes out with ( for example, he's against recycling!) but he sure is fun to read!
Edna O'Brien, "James Joyce" Audio cassette from library. I really did not care at all for O'Brien's style of writing. Listened to half the book before returning it to the library.
Buster Keaton, "My Wonderful World of Slapstick" A present from Angela. A very interesting read, but not the final word on his life since he glosses over his own imperfections. Still a good introduction to one of the cinema's most fascinating comedians/directors.
Nancy Cartwright, "My Life as a ten year old boy" A present from Rob. Lots of behind the scenes info on the Simpsons. Mainly a bragfest by a person who has made the most of her talents and has one of the wrorld's greatest jobs.
E. Mysteries (TOTAL: 17 books):
Marcia Muller, "Both Ends of the Night," "While other People Sleep," "A Walk Through the Fire," and "Listen to the Silence" I wanted to complete my reading of the Sharon McCone mystery series. Now I find she has a new one out. I started out reading her because she was recommended by a female real (former) private detective. I like the Kinsey Milhone series much better.
S S Van Dine, "The Greene Murder Case," "The Bishop Murder Case" and "The Scarab Murder Case" These are the third fourth and fifth of the Philo Vance mysteries, all edited by Maxwell Perkins, and all incredibly wonderful.
Earl Derr Biggers, "The Black Camel" The fourth Charlie Chan novel. Entertaining but not Derr Biggers at his best.
Agatha Christie, "Partners In Crime" The second Tommy and Tuppence novel, in which the couple, now married emulates detectives of other authors. Tons of fun, even though all of these detectives have been forgotten over the ensuing seventy years.
Agatha Christie, "The Seven Dials Mystery" Another mystery featuring the upperclass residents of The Chimneys. Wonderful character and superlative writing makes one ignore the ridiculous plot. Christie's resolution to the mystery is typically masterful.
Dashiell Hammett, "Red Harvest" and "The Dain Curse" Hard boiled detective writing raised to an art form. Unbeatable fun.
Ellery Queen, "The Roman Hat Mystery" The very first Ellery Queen mystery, from 1929. Well written and very puzzling.
Dorothy Sayers, "Lord Peter Views The Body" Mostly audio cassette from library, but there were a couple of stories not on the tape that I had to read. Sayers is a masterful writer.
David Bell, "Line of Vision" Library book recommended by Cliff. A poorly written but fairly compelling page-turner that had practically no mystery in it.
Ruth Rendell, "To Fear a Painted Devil" This was one of two novels Rendell had published between her first and second Wexford novels. From 1965, it is a short, well written murder mystery concerning a rather unatractive group of British suburbanites.
Ruth Rendell, "Vanity Dies Hard" This second non-Wexford was excellent. A fun read all the way through that completely fooled me and yet had a believable resolution.
total books read in 2002: 50
On to next year!
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