Monday, August 09, 2004

Booklist 2004 - Part 3

14. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
by Douglas Adams

I first read this book in college along with the other books in what was then a three-book trilogy. In true Adams tradition however, he wrote two additional books in "the increasingly inaccurately named Hitchhiker’s Trilogy." I decided that since it had been so many years since I read the original three books, I’d reread them before taking on the two I hadn’t read. As of this writing, I’ve read four of the five, all of which will be covered as these reviews continue.

I recall the first time I read this book while on the subway going to school and just laughing uncontrollably as the New York City straphangers feared for their safety and my sanity. All these years later, I found myself once more laughing till it hurt reading about Arthur Dent and his outer space adventures along with the wackiest cast of characters an imagination can conjure.

The story is unique and funny, the characters are whimsical, the adventures are hilarious, and the humor is sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek, witty, and just plain gut-busting. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite laughs as the book describes the entry for alcohol in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a direct competitor to the hugely selling Encyclopedia Galactica. “The best drink in existence is the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster. It says the effect of drinking a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick.” You just have to love this stuff!

15. The Stone Cold Truth
by “Stone Cold” Steve Austin

Another pro-wrestling autobiography - this time chronicling the life and career of Texas native Steve Williams who became wrestling legend, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and helped to change the face of pro-wrestling in the modern era. Wrestling fans will enjoy the details of Austin’s career in the wresting business but many of the stories here fall short and seem to end just before the good parts.

16. Music City Babylon
by Scott Faragher

Having worked as a booking agent in Nashville, this country music insider offers his bias of how things “really work” behind the scenes. A look at the popular figures in the country music business, their (alleged) attitudes and “quirks” behind the scenes, and the music industry in general (particularly the world of booking) is offered from what seemed like an angry man with an axe to grind and a lot of bad feelings. If you can get beyond the bias, it’s an interesting read, though currently out of print – you’ll have to find it at a library or in a closeout bin.

17. Cat & Mouse
by James Patterson

The fourth installment in the Alex Cross Series (discussed in previous posts), Patterson reprises psycho villain Gary Soneji along a European nut job counterpart (Mr. Smith) and provides a terrific twist that’ll keep you guessing and have you on the edge of your seat. This book is another winner by Patterson though at times is quite graphic and disturbing.

18. The Five People You Meet in Heaven
by Mitch Albom

I’ll start by saying this is a great book and a must read. I feel this book is going to affect different people in different ways – all of them wonderful, inspiring, uplifting, and motivational. The main character, Eddie, in death, finally comes to terms with who he was and what his place was in the world.

To those who’ve ever pondered the question “If I die tomorrow, will I have left my mark on the world? Will I have left anything memorable behind? Did I really accomplish anything? A unique and interest look at the answers to these questions from the other side through the eyes of a man who could represent any of us in our lives.

This book is another quick read, as was Albom’s previous book, the ever popular Tuesday’s with Morrie (another must read).

19. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
by Douglas Adams

This second book in the Hitchhiker’s “trilogy” takes us along with Arthur Dent and friends through a whole new set of insane adventure while trying to find the question to “the answer of life (which is of course, 42).” Yet another side splitter.

20. The View from Nashville
by Ralph Emery

With nearly a half-century in the country music business, Emery tells some of his favorite stories about some of Nashville’s most popular artists. Though seemingly egotistical at times, the stories are interesting (provided you are a fan of country music) and easy to read. This is probably more information than most need or want, but I read most of this book in the bathroom.

21. Invitation to a Beheading
by Vladimir Nabokov

I was participating in a book group discussion when the conversation took an interesting twist, and a colleague mentioned this title and its unusual concept. I’m not sure if I can intelligently put into words an accurate description of this book but I can tell you it was unlike anything I’ve ever read before. The title above will link you to where you can read some interesting commentary and facts on the book and judge for yourself. What I found particularly interesting is that this book was originally written in Russian and later translated by Nabokov’s son Dmitiri; and happens to use the English language with a grace and eloquence that left me breathless (when I wasn’t laughing or feeling bad for poor old Cincinnatus).

---Addition, 8/11/2004. After rereading this, my lack of efficient brain cells and apparent fatigue really left the commentary for this wonderful book short of what is deserved. I highly recommend this very unique book and offer the following synopsis extracted from this web site:

Like Kafka's The Castle, Invitation to a Beheading embodies a vision of a bizarre and irrational world. In an unnamed dream country, the young man Cincinnatus C. is condemned to death by beheading for "gnostical turpitude." an imaginary crime that defies definition. Cincinnatus spends his last days in an absurd jail, where he is visited by chimerical jailers. an executioner who masquerades as a fellow prisoner, and by his in-laws. who lug their furniture with them into his cell. When Cincinnatus is led out to be executed. he simply wills his executioners out of existence: they disappear, along with the whole world they inhabit.

Until next time, May God Bless You All!

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