Thursday, October 27, 2011

Spotted: Chango's Beads and Two-Tone Shoes by William Kennedy

Where: Q-train
Who was reading: A bony brown-haired woman in a brown quilted coat. Her mouth had a pinched look, as though she was holding back a rather sour epithet. Something in "poor taste" no doubt.
Speaking of epithets... I was tempted to vocalize a few myself at this other random woman who kept creeping into my personal space. I'm used to being caught in a crush, but she had this gargantuan mass of itchy, floaty hair that kept drifting into my face, and dandling against the exposed skin of my wrist. By the end of the ride, I was all acrawl with prickly, imaginary lice.
Licelady wasn't reading. Of course. But if she had been, I assume the book would have been "Of Mice and Mange."
Moving on, Chango's Beads
Q: Is it just me or does that cover look weirdly tall? 
A: It is not just me, it IS weirdly tall. 5.98 x 9.01in to be exact.
As in, you must be this tall to read. Recommended for ages 18 and up--according to the publisher's website. 
Could this be a ploy to lure young readers to the book by infusing it with the heady thrill of that which is forbidden. I'm going to go with yes. Definitely.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Well I'll be damned! THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY by Erik Larson

Subtitle: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America.
You mean the Oregon Country Fair? No. 
Burning Man? No. 
The 1893 World's Fair in Chicago? That's the one!
Where: A-train.
Who was reading: A massively tall woman with her hair in a  bun sprouting tendrils like a potato too long in the drawer. She had on a 3/4 sleeve jacket (annoying!) and the sort of ankle-boots one wears when one is an elf going on a quest to a gallery opening on the West side of Bushwick.
Murder: The book tells the story serial killer Dr. H.H. Holmes, who used the World's Fair to lure victims to their death in his "World's Fair Hotel," affectionately nicknamed, the "Murder Castle." Instead of the premium channels and in-room jacuzzi tubs commonly found in today's upscale lodgings, Holmes outfitted his hotel with a gas chamber, dissection table and crematorium to dispose of the bodies. Skeletons were sold for a tidy profit to the medical community. 
Magic: Not sure where magic comes in, but here's a little-known publishing secret: stuff on the cover doesn't always have to make sense. 
Madness: Some people thought Holmes was a little unbalanced. And surprisingly, not all of his guests were 100% on board with giving their lives up to (mad) science. So things got a little dicey down Murder Castle Way.
Did I mention this is based on a true story? No? Well it is.
Anyway, good luck getting to sleep tonight. And should you indeed succumb to the sandman's lullaby, I ought to mention that the ghost of Dr. Holmes will be happy to give you a wake-up call....

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Spotted: Toll the Hounds by Steven Erikson

Where: Q-train
Digital reader: Kindle
Who was reading: A beer-bellied man in an aqua dress shirt. His nails were whittled practically to the bone, and wedged into fleshy little recesses atop noticeably plump fingers. He had the right amount of scruff on his face, but it was more haphazard than sexy.
Has anyone else noticed how a bunch of cool shit seems to be coming out of Canada lately? Author Steven Erikson is from Canada too. I was amused that the book's write-up on Wikipedia links to an article explaining the concept of Canada: "a North American country consisting of ten provinces and 3 territories..." Helpful.
The wiki also features a totally killer book synopsis, explaining just a fraction short of nothing:
"Dire portents plague his nights and haunt the city's streets like fiends of shadow. Assassins skulk in alleyways but it seems the hunters have become the hunted. Hidden hands pluck the strings of tyranny like a fell chorus. Strangers have arrived, and while the bards sing their tragic tales, somewhere in the distance can be heard the baying of hounds. All is palpably not well."
OooOOooo, Spooky! And since this is book 8 in an epic fantasy series, you only have to read 7 other novels before you yourself can palpate the unwellness.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Real-life MOCKINGJAY Occupies Wall Street

Where: A-train
Who was reading: A large man in a sweeping black coat/cloak(?) sure to fire the envy of many a Neil Gaiman fan. From his mandible sprouted a rambling bramble-bush of beard and from his cranium, dyed black hair hung in rebellious waves.
Unsurprisingly for such a wild-haired gent, he boarded the train near the "Occupy Wall Street" encampment.
Suzanne Collins's Capitol vs. Wall Street Capital-ism:
The Capitol forces 24 children to engage in a fight to the death on live television each year. Viewing is mandatory, and serves as a tool to repress popular revolt.
Capitalism causes thousands to die of diseases that are easily preventable, and starvation where food is abundant, by allowing essential resources to concentrate in the hands of a few, while providing inadequate side-payments and/or social safety nets to support those in need.
Capitol is worse. Clearly. All those Hunger Games viewers should be reading a book—Lord of the Flies, say—instead of zoning out in front of the idiot box.
Violent books > Violent television. Always.