Thursday, May 06, 2010


This has been a big reading week, because with my wrist, I'm not using a game pad (although I did ride 3 miles today, but that's a different story).Here are a few books I think you might enjoy.

The first is a book that's quite difficult to find--Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's Roadside Picnic. It's considered a science fiction classic, but I had never read it until prompted by Matthew Sakey's brilliant chapter on the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series in a soon-to-be-published book. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. isn't entirely based on Roadside Picnic, but it melds phenomenological events in the book with Chernobyl as the source--an entirely brilliant mash-up.

This is a gripping, lean story, and the writing is both evocative and barren at the same time. It's easily one of my favorite science fiction stories ever, and I highly recommend it, even if you're not a fan of science fiction.

Now, the difficult part. The book is long out of print, and trying to find a copy via Amazon is problematic, because the cheapest edition is rarely available, and "collector's" editions often cost several hundred dollars. However, it's much more readily available via eBay--there are multiple listings for the edition I have that can be purchased for under $15.

Next is a wonderful book by Neil Gaiman, ostensibly written for children, titled The Graveyard Book. It's the story of a toddler who, through a series of tragic circumstances, is raised by the residents of a graveyard. It's also a beautiful piece of writing, very touching, and the world is richly rendered. After I finished reading it yesterday, I told Eli 8.9 about it, and he's starting on it today.

Oh, and while this book is allegedly written for older children, it's a great read for adults, too.

Now, an entirely ridiculous PS, thanks to Big Bosoms and Square Jaws: The Biography of Russ Meyer, King of the Sex Film. This was written by Jimmy McDonough (who wrote the Tammy Wynette biography I recently mentioned), and "rollicking" is the best single word I can think of to describe the book. I don't find the films of Russ Meyer particularly interesting, but his career, and the details of how he made his films, are absolutely fascinating. It's also a look back at pre-porn America, back when bare breasts were controversial, which is fascinating in its own right.

Meyer is quite a character, both magnetic and repulsive, and often at the same time. It's an unforgettable book, with plenty of laugh out loud moments. If you want to read something a bit off the beaten track, try this.

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