Monday, June 16, 2008

The Reading Luxury

Yes, it is a luxury to just sit and read, and read, and -- well it's a luxury to be able to just sit and do anything pleasurable for more than a half hour. And reading is the topic currently.

I just finished tonight, Armistead Maupin's The Night Listener. I have a vague recollection of this coming out as a film, but never saw it. Anyway, the story is incredible. Actually that adjective that I meant to use for "great, awesome, compelling", actually is more apt then I realized. You have to read this to see what I mean, but just remember the word, incredible and it hits home. Definite recommend.

Previously, I enjoyed the sad satisfaction of finishing Brother Odd by Dean Koontz. I actually started a separate piece on authors that surprise me, and Koontz is in that category. But let me just touch on the story. There's this dude - a sort of a wise-ass but kind - young man who lives in a small desert Southern California town. He lives simply and works as a fry-cook at a nearby diner. He has a swell girlfriend, a great boss, and some other dear friends, and he sees dead people. Yep, just like that twerp in The Sixth Sense. Luckily the sheriff understands Odd Thomas's secret, and even recruits Odd for various freaky-deeky cases.

Anyway, Koontz ended up liking this character of Odd Thomas enough to create a sequel or two, or series...and so that brings me to Brother Odd, which places Odd at a monastery/convent/school. The dead and other creepies follow him, of course - and the story is well told. But this telling, it's something special. Something beyond just spinning a good yarn. There are pieces in the pages that make your heart do funny things. Not in the sense of stopping while turning a page, but more in the fashion of "how can he possibly be able to convey this much hope and love without resorting to quoting from Shakespeare's sonnets or at the very least, a tear-jerker Hallmark Card." But really, I shouldn't be so surprised at the texture of Koontz's writing, I've seen this from him before, but certain passages from Odd are extra-amazing. I was struck deeply while reading this last installment, and I'm hoping that when I get around to my little piece on surprising authors, that I can dig up the proper words to explain what the fuck he's capable of.

And there's been some non-fiction too. A nice treat was Truth and Beauty by Anne Patchett. This is the story of the friendship between Patchett and the poet Lucy Grealy. Fantastic writing, even with a somewhat depressing subject matter.

Lastly is James Rollins' Black Order. I had not heard of him when my brother-in-law lent me Amazonia, which was a very good read. Very good up till the part where I inexplicably stopped and still have not finished. I have not heard Rollins mentioned anywhere, but he's got at least two hits on his hands. Black Order is tense mystery thriller type, mixing sci-fi with ethics and morals, and I so would love to see this made into a movie.

And what's funny, but I don't have the energy to start a whole 'thing', is that several of these books touched, even rather deeply, on quantum physics. Whodathunk?