May 9, 2015 at 12:15 am #236265
12. Gather Yourselves Together – Philip K. Dick (1994)
Gather Yourselves Together is one of Philip K. Dick’s earliest novels, written when he was just twenty-four years old. It tells the story of three Americans left behind in China by their employer, biding their time as the Communists advance. As they while away the days, both the young and naïve Carl Fitter and the older and worldly Verne Tildon vie for the affections of Barbara Mahler, a woman who may not be so tough-as-nails as she acts. But Carl’s innocence and Verne’s boorishness could end up driving Barbara away from both.May 20, 2015 at 6:15 am #236266
13. Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe (1958)
Things Fall Apart tells two overlapping, intertwining stories, both of which center around Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first of these stories traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world in which he lives, and in its classical purity of line and economical beauty it provides us with a powerful fable about the immemorial conflict between the individual and society. The second story, which is as modern as the first is ancient, and which elevates the book to a tragic plane, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo’s world through the arrival of aggressive, proselytizing European missionaries. These twin dramas are perfectly harmonized, and they are modulated by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul. Things Fall Apart is the most illuminating and permanent monument we have to the modern African experience as seen from within.June 18, 2015 at 5:31 am #236267
14. The Flame Alphabet – Ben Marcus (2102)
In The Flame Alphabet, the most maniacally gifted writer of our generation delivers a work of heartbreak and horror, a novel about how far we will go, and the sorrows we will endure, in order to protect our families.
A terrible epidemic has struck the country and the sound of children’s speech has become lethal. Radio transmissions from strange sources indicate that people are going into hiding. All Sam and Claire need to do is look around the neighborhood: In the park, parents wither beneath the powerful screams of their children. At night, suburban side streets become routes of shameful escape for fathers trying to get outside the radius of affliction.
With Claire nearing collapse, it seems their only means of survival is to flee from their daughter, Esther, who laughs at her parents’ sickness, unaware that in just a few years she, too, will be susceptible to the language toxicity. But Sam and Claire find it isn’t so easy to leave the daughter they still love, even as they waste away from her malevolent speech. On the eve of their departure, Claire mysteriously disappears, and Sam, determined to find a cure for this new toxic language, presses on alone into a world beyond recognition.
The Flame Alphabet invites the question: What is left of civilization when we lose the ability to communicate with those we love? Both morally engaged and wickedly entertaining, a gripping page-turner as strange as it is moving, this intellectual horror story ensures Ben Marcus’s position in the first rank of American novelists.June 27, 2015 at 6:04 am #236268
15. Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller – Jeff Rubin (2010)
What do subprime mortgages, Atlantic salmon dinners, SUVs and globalization have in common?
They all depend on cheap oil. And in a world of dwindling oil supplies and steadily mounting demand around the world, there is no such thing as cheap oil. Oil might be less expensive in the middle of a recession, but it will never be cheap again.
Take away cheap oil, and the global economy is getting the shock of its life.
From the ageing oilfields of Saudi Arabia and the United States to the Canadian tar sands, from the shopping malls of Dubai to the shuttered auto plants of North America and Europe, from the made-in-China products on the shelves of the Wal-Mart down the road to the collapse of Wall Street giants, everything is connected to the price of oil
Interest rates, carbon trading, inflation, farmers’ markets and the wave of trade protectionism washing up all over the world in the wake of various economic stimulus and bailout packages – they all hinge on the new realities of a world where demand for oil eventually outstrips supply.
According to maverick economist Jeff Rubin, there will be no energy bailout. The global economy has suffered oil crises in the past, but this time around the rules have changed. And that means the future is not going to be a continuation of the past. For generations we have built wealth by burning more and more oil. Our cars, our homes, our whole world has been getting bigger in the cheap-oil era. Now it is about to get smaller.
There will be winners as well as losers as the age of globalization comes to an end. The auto industry will never recover from this oil-induced recession, but other manufacturers will be opening up mothballed factories. Distance will soon cost money, and so will burning carbon – both will bring long-lost jobs back home. We may not see the kind of economic growth that globalization has brought, but local economies will be revitalized, as will our cities and neighborhoods.
Whether we like it or not, our world is about to get a whole lot smaller.June 30, 2015 at 5:16 am #236269
16. Cormac McCarthy – Child of God (1973)
In this taut, chilling novel, Lester Ballard–a violent, dispossessed man falsely accused of rape–haunts the hill country of East Tennessee when he is released from jail. While telling his story, Cormac McCarthy depicts the most sordid aspects of life with dignity, humor, and characteristic lyrical brilliance.July 6, 2015 at 1:33 pm #236270
17. The Peripheral – William Gibson (2014)
Where Flynne and her brother, Burton, live, jobs outside the drug business are rare. Fortunately, Burton has his veteran’s benefits, for neural damage he suffered from implants during his time in the USMC’s elite Haptic Recon force. Then one night Burton has to go out, but there’s a job he’s supposed to do—a job Flynne didn’t know he had. Beta-testing part of a new game, he tells her. The job seems to be simple: work a perimeter around the image of a tower building. Little buglike things turn up. He’s supposed to get in their way, edge them back. That’s all there is to it. He’s offering Flynne a good price to take over for him. What she sees, though, isn’t what Burton told her to expect. It might be a game, but it might also be murder.July 28, 2015 at 1:06 am #236271
18. Ghostwritten – David Mitchell (1999)
Winner of the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize.
A magnificent achievement and an engrossing experience, David Mitchell’s first novel announced the arrival of one of the most exciting writers of the twenty-first century.
An apocalyptic cult member carries out a gas attack on a rush-hour metro, but what links him to a jazz buff in downtown Tokyo? Or to a Mongolian gangster, a woman on a holy mountain who talks to a tree, and a late night New York DJ?
Set at the fugitive edges of Asia and Europe, Ghostwritten weaves together a host of characters, their interconnected destinies determined by the inescapable forces of cause and effect.July 28, 2015 at 10:33 pm #236272
19. William Shakespeare – Much Ado About Nothing (1599)
To help Claudio woo the lovely Hero, Don Pedro disguises himself as Claudio and wins Hero’s hand in marriage.
Benedick and Beatrice are opposed to marriage. They engage in intellectual sparring. Don Pedro tries to bring them together in matrimony by convincing both of them that the other suffers from unrequited love.
Don John attempts to cause disharmony, first by arousing Claudio’s suspicion that Don Pedro will keep Hero for himself and then by creating an elaborate plan to demonstrate that Hero is unfaithful.
When Claudio accuses Hero of infidelity, she swoons and appears dead. Claudio later learns of his error and regrets accusing Hero. He reluctantly agrees to marry Leonato’s niece.
In the end, the confusion is cleared and Claudio marries Hero, and Benedick marries Beatrice. Don John is captured and brought to justice.
I read this quickly during the day prior to seeing the local Shakespeare company that evening. A very entertaining and humorous play. They updated the setting to immediately after World War 2 with the men having just returned from war.July 30, 2015 at 1:01 am #236273
20. William Shakespeare – Othello (1603)
Othello’s villainous ensign Iago plots against Othello and sends Roderigo to tell Senator Brabantio that Othello has seduced Brabantio’s daughter Desdemona.
After convincing the Senate that he has won Desdemona’s love fair and square, Othello is sent to Cyprus for a military command, new bride in tow.
Iago plants a handkerchief that Othello gave to Desdemona on Cassio, the man who received the promotion Iago wanted, and convinces Othello that Cassio and Desdemona are having an affair.
Iago convinces Roderigo to make an attempt on Cassio’s life, and when it only maims him, frames the courtesan Bianca and quietly murders Roderigo.
Mad with jealousy, Othello smothers Desdemona. Iago’s wife Emilia stumbles upon the murder and exposes Iago’s plots, for which Iago kills her and is arrested. Othello, realizing his grave error, kills himself.
Boo, Iago! His jealousy and racism ruined many lives. The local Shakespeare company set this in a modern corporation, and instead of a Moor, Othello was played by a Cree actor who incorporated the Cree dialect into his performance.August 2, 2015 at 7:49 pm #236274
21. Patrick deWitt – The Sisters Brothers (2011)
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize
Hermann Kermit Warm is going to die. The enigmatic and powerful man known only as the Commodore has ordered it, and his henchmen, Eli and Charlie Sisters, will make sure of it. Though Eli doesn’t share his brother’s appetite for whiskey and killing, he’s never known anything else. But their prey isn’t an easy mark, and on the road from Oregon City to Warm’s gold-mining claim outside Sacramento, Eli begins to question what he does for a living–and whom he does it for.
With The Sisters Brothers, Patrick deWitt pays homage to the classic Western, transforming it into an unforgettable comic tour de force. Filled with a remarkable cast of characters–losers, cheaters, and ne’er-do-wells from all stripes of life–and told by a complex and compelling narrator, it is a violent, lustful odyssey through the underworld of the 1850s frontier that beautifully captures the humor, melancholy, and grit of the Old West and two brothers bound by blood, violence, and love.August 11, 2015 at 3:22 am #237666Michael E. WalstonParticipant
I read that one! I thought it was brilliantly done.August 11, 2015 at 2:57 pm #241761Ashe Elton ParkerParticipant
As someone whose Shaekespearean studies in school (high school) never included Much Ado or Othello, I would have appreciated seeing some sort of synopsis of both plays.Ashe Elton Parker
"There's someone in my head, but it's not me." ~ from the song Brain Damage by Pink Floyd
Member since 1998.
Look me up on Wattpad for some of my books!August 12, 2015 at 4:27 am #242221
Your wish is my command
I added a quick synopsis to each.August 12, 2015 at 4:45 am #242242Ashe Elton ParkerParticipant
Thanks!Ashe Elton Parker
"There's someone in my head, but it's not me." ~ from the song Brain Damage by Pink Floyd
Member since 1998.
Look me up on Wattpad for some of my books!August 25, 2015 at 5:48 pm #236275
22. Jonathan Lethem – Chronic City (2009)
The bestselling and beloved author of Motherless Brooklyn and The Fortress of Solitude delivers a searing love letter to the city that has inspired his finest work.
Chase Insteadman, former child television star, has a new role in life—permanent guest on the Upper East Side dinner party circuit, where he is consigned to talk about his astronaut fiancée, Janice Trumbull, who is trapped on a circling Space Station. A chance encounter collides Chase with Perkus Tooth, a wily pop culture guru with a vicious conspiratorial streak and the best marijuana in town. Despite their disparate backgrounds and trajectories Chase and Perkus discover they have a lot in common, including a cast of friends from all walks of life in Manhattan. Together and separately they attempt to define the indefinable, and enter into a quest for the most elusive of things: truth and authenticity in a city where everything has a price.
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