by Neal Stephenson
The second book in his The Baroque Cycle trilogy, has an awful lot to live up to, given the outrageous bawdy historical fantasy that is Quicksilver, the first book in the series - but boy does it - live up to it that is. I must say Mr Stephenson fairly chucks them at you; no sooner had I finished Quicksilver than this book appeared on the 'coming soon' list. "So what " you think - well Yeah! Sez I; they're both around 700 pages long. I really have great admiration for someone who can come up with page after page of totally riveting reading, with events and twist so unexpected and bizarre, and what's more, it's so well written, you really seem to live through the story with the different characters - even the ones you don't like. If you like your buckle with an oversize helping of swash, get it (or get the first one) NOW! - coz that's entertainment.
by Pete Dexter
Set in post war California this story follows the lives of three -
misfits really, three people who because of their reaction to quite
shocking events or maybe it's just plain reality, are unable to conform
to the quite rigid standards of social behaviour which predominate the
time. Train the eponymous hero is a quiet golfing genius, in fact he is
good at almost all physical things, like gardening or roofing or
machine maintainence; he's good with his hands, he has the knack, he is
an adept. But he's terrible at communicating. Miller Packard is a good
cop, severely traumatised by his wartime experience in the South
Pacific (litrerally), he gets a thrill out of violence and only seems
to feel alive in situations of extreme danger, in fact he's a
psychopath. Norah is the third side of the triangle; subjected to a
terrifying ordeal, which is unflinchingly narrated in horrific detail;
she is numb and lost.
Somehow these three misfits lives come together for a while, and for a
while it works.
One thing I really like about PD's style is that he doesn't labour the
story, sometimes he just give you the barest bones of the plot and
leaves it up to the reader to flesh out the story. It's actually very
cool, I mean that in the sense of elegance.
Actually, I loved it.