Sunday, August 15, 2004

Booklist 2004 - Part 4

22. Life the Universe and Everything
by Douglas Adams

The third of the five volume "Hitchhiker's Trilogy" loses a bit of the momentum in terms of story that the first two books build to, but continues to provide the hilarious moments we've come to expect from the characters that by this point, we've come to love.

Here's a book description extracted from Amazon.com that pretty much sums us my own sentiments and points of interest with this book:

"HYSTERICAL!" - The Philadelphia Inquirer...The unhappy inhabitants of planet Krikkit are sick of looking at the night sky above their heads--so they plan to destroy it. The universe, that is. Now only five individuals stand between the white killer robots of Krikkit and their goal of total annihilation. They are Arthur Dent, a mild-mannered space and time traveler, who tries to learn how to fly by throwing himself at the ground and missing (this reminds me of my the brilliant Michael and his terrific blog Notes from a Darkened Room. Please stop by there - I assure you it will be worth your time); Ford Prefect, his best friend, who decides to go insane to see if he likes it (I like this idea but I think I might be too far gone already); Slartibartfast, the indomitable vice president of the Campaign for Real Time, who travels in a ship powered by irrational behavior; Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed, three-armed ex-head honcho of the Universe; and Trillian, the sexy space cadet who is torn between a persistent Thunder God and a very depressed Beeblebrox. How will it all end? Will it end? Only this stalwart crew knows as they try to avert "universal" Armageddon and save life as we know it--and don't know it!

I'm not sure if the story line here is less that what I wished it to be or the characters and there histrionics were so exaggerated, interesting, and funny that they forced the main story into the background. Either way, I'd find it hard not to recommend especially if you've read the first two.

23. Brain Droppings
by George Carlin

For the most part, this is a written collection of some of Carlin's stand-up material that he's been performing since the late sixties. As a big George Carlin fan, I was familiar with much of it but of course, still find it funny.

I found this book fun to read for a number of reasons (other than my devotion to Carlin's comedy material). First, I love to laugh and often need to. Picking up this book during one of those necessary times where laughter was needed, laughter was provided in short, easy to read chunks that make it worthy of leaving a copy in reaching distance. Be forewarned that Carlin is a man of opinion that may harshly differ from yours. You do need to have an open mind and the occasional ability to actually think about some of his commentaries.

24. The Great Bridge
by David McCullough

I grew up in Brooklyn and as such, heard many folktales, stories, myths, and so-called historical facts about the Brooklyn Bridge. As a grown man, when I found a book about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge written by one of the most respected historical authors in the world, I had to read it.

An exhaustive account of an engineering marvel that (not unlike today) was plagued with difficulties from corruption, politics, and egos (I guess it's true that history seems to repeat itself). What I found most interesting, other that how they were able to accomplish such magnificence in engineering without the "high-tech" equipment of today, is the incredible similarities that make such a project difficult.

The book was quite long and though interesting at most times to me, occasionally lost me in some of the explicit detail regarding the personalities (especially the Roebling family), the politics, and the engineering. Having read what I just wrote, it almost seems that the same thing that makes the book interesting is what makes it boring at times - if you can figure that out, you'll understand what I am trying to say.

25. Pop Goes the Weasel
by James Patterson

In this fifth book in the Alex Cross series, Patterson delivers a formulaic thriller featuring the evil Geoffrey Shaffer, a British Diplomat known as "The Weasel." Along with three equally menacing figures, a group known as "The Four Horsemen" embark in a real life role-play that gets way out of hand eventually jeopardizing Alex Cross, his family, and his relationship.

The Alex Cross novels are just a great way to escape and are just great to read. I can't say enough good things about them.

26. The Best American Travel Writing 2000
edited by Bill Bryson

An eclectic collection of enthralling essays edited by the premier author in the genre of travel writing. I really love this genre and enjoyed reading these short stories about the kind of adventures and experiences that stimulate the senses; a very worthy read.

27. Howling at the Moon
by Walter Yetnikoff

I love music. I love the stories of the music business from the good to the bad and the pretty to the ugly. The one-hit wonders, the superstars, the egos, the drugs and self-destruction. I love it, I love it, I love it. Walter Yetnikoff was the president of CBS records during a pivotal time in the history of popular music as defined by my generation. I enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who shares my passion for music.

Here is the Publishers Weekly review which I found to be worthy of reprinting as it echoes my views more eloquently that I can at this moment in time:

This memoir by Yetnikoff, the former president of CBS Records, may lead to hipsters changing the phrase "partying like a rock star" to "partying like the president of a record label." After joining CBS in 1962, Yetnikoff, who guided the careers of Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel, among others, became addicted to power, sex, drugs and alcohol as he gave himself over to the everything-in-excess rock and roll lifestyle. Recruited to CBS by fellow lawyer and future music mogul Clive Davis, Yetnikoff, with the help of right-hand man Tommy Mottola, alternated between swinging deals and pissing off a who's who of entertainment's elite including Michael Eisner, David Geffen, Michael Ovitz and Steve Ross. Though once in a while it feels as if he is a name dropper of the highest level, Yetnikoff shows an unguarded side of musicians that the public rarely sees. Similarly, he sometimes still feels the need to prove he did the most coke or had the most sex, but for the most part the story of his downward spiral, which leads to losing his job and family and brings him to the edge of death, is captivating and even occasionally touching. Thanks to coauthor and music writer Ritz, the book maintains its fast pace and conversational style from start to finish so that, in the end, Yetnikoff's raucous life story becomes a cautionary tale, with a steady backbeat.

Until next time, May God Bless You All!

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