A review of The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep (Philip Marlowe, #1)The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The plot is nothing that you have not read in a dozen variations in the 75+ years since this book was published. There is no surprising but inevitable conclusion at the end of the book. Not after all that time. You read this book because of the character of Philip Marlowe and the language. There is a short distance between overblown, purple prose and what Raymond Chandler writes but it is there and it does make a difference. Every few pages, there is a sentence or paragraph worthy of quoting. I am not smarter or wiser or enriched by having read this book. I don’t care. It was fun to read and that matters.

I have seen the movie The Big Sleep multiple times on TV. Bogart is older and more worn than his character in the book. Bacall is blonder and fresher than her character in the book. Other than that, the book and the movie are faithful to each other to the extent that I could hear the voices of the actors as I read.

Recommended for recreational reading.

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A Review of Eats, Shoots and Leaves

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to PunctuationEats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OK, it is about punctuation. Can’t get much drier than that. But this book is funny, and helpful, and you should read it. For all sorts of reasons.

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A Review of Devil’s Bargain

Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the PresidencyDevil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency by Joshua Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The author writes what appears to be a balanced portrait of Steve Bannon. He is complex and while stylistically similar to Trump, he is a much different man. My wife read it and recommended to me. I sat down to glance at it and ended up reading the whole thing in one sitting.

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A Review of The Thousand Automns of Jacob de Zoet

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de ZoetThe Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is part of my “how to write good” series, recommended to me for the quality of the writing. It is a literary work with just a whiff of magic, not so potent to push it into the fantasy column but still a whiff.

As I read this book, I kept thinking, nothing is happening, at least nothing that should matter to me. But at the end, I teared up. Sneaky devil of an author, I walked down the the path that he constructed unaware until the end how much I would be affected.

The story is one of east meets west, culture conflicts, and moral conflicts fabricated into a study of the character of one Jacob de Zoet. It is well written but not astounding, wondrous, or even filled with memorable lines. I am better for having read it but I am hard pressed to point at something that would justify a recommendation to others. The best that I can say is that you will enjoy the book but there are a thousand other books for which I could say the same.

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A Review of The Wall of Storms

The Wall of Storms (The Dandelion Dynasty, #2)The Wall of Storms by Ken Liu

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really wanted to like this book more than I did. I am giving it four stars because it is a strong book, but one with flaws.

Much like the first book in the trilogy, The Grace of Kings, I felt that the book lacked a certain polish. In fact I was much more pleased with this book (as compared to the first book) up until about half way through. Then it seemed like the quality of the book sagged. As I was reading the second book (in a hard-cover version) I initially thought that the difference might be that I had listened to the first book but read the second book. But then the sag occurred and I decided that it was the book and not the medium.

I am not sure how to describe my reservations about the books. I just had the feeling that the author had a checklist of different types of scenes that were stuck in a outline. There is just an organic seamlessness that is missing.

I will be reading the third book, to see how things turn out and to see if the quality of the writing goes up a notch.

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