While I very much enjoyed the Shadow/Bean series, I found this final book to be the least engaging. I did enjoy the ending – Ender & Peter’s “reconciliation” – and the series interested me enough and kept me entertained enough to make me still want to read the rest of the Ender series, including the newest “prequel” or sequel to book one – the time-line gets confusing, and I appreciate that Card gives shouts out in his books’ acknowledgments to the people who helped him keep track of time and characters. The final books in the Shadow series began to focus heavily on religion and politics, which distracted me from the story because of how at odds I am with Card’s own political and religious beliefs (though in all fairness, it’s hard to interpret this through his Shadow series). In any event, I enjoyed the series and I look forward to reading more – including the remaining Ender books as well as Pastwatch.
Another masterful installment of the fantastic Ender/Bean series. I find it maddening that an author whose creative work I respond to with such favor can be so repellent to me on a personal/political/religious level. It is easy to see some of Card’s political leanings and social beliefs in his works, once one is made aware of them; still, the Ender novels as well as other independent works – like Songmaster – seem somewhat liberal and inclusive, which would be opposed to Card’s ultra-conservatism. Luckily, the writing is so wonderful and the stories so magical that it isn’t too difficult to put aside my feelings for the author and simply enjoy the work (though I can’t see myself buying copies of his books – I’ll have to continue to borrow them from friends/libraries). I finished Shadow Puppets in one day, though it’s about 350 pages, and I’ll be cracking open the next in the series – Shadow of the Giant – tomorrow. Still such an incredible sci-fi fantasy series, though, perhaps not surprisingly, some of the magic of Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow has been lost. Well worth the read.
Shadow of the Hegemon by Orson Scott Card
This edition of the novel is littered with surface errors; however, the story itself is quite interesting. While it can’t stand on its own, as Ender’s Shadow or Ender’s Game certainly can, it is an intriguing “next step” in the Bean series, and it definitely leaves me wanting to continue on to the next book: Shadow Puppets. Orson Scott Card is a genius at merging creative imaginings of the future with historical and contemporary political and military fact. Seems almost effortless.
Guide by Dennis Cooper
Beautiful, bold, and brilliant. A lot of Cooper’s unique and trademark style has been carried over into Guide but with some innovation. For instance, Guide is much more personal, it seems. This episode of the George Miles series is, in my opinion, the best because it brings together the three previous novels and begins to explain who George Miles was to Dennis, why he is so important – how he changed Dennis forever. The novel somehow manages to be touching, heart-breaking, and disgusting all at once. Superb and unexpected.
Lost in the Funhouse by John Barth
Brilliant! Absolutely unpredictable. Sad, too – the novel speaks of the end of itself, that is, the novel. Written in an age where novelists truly feared new media (cinema, theater, etc.). Barth’s literary and composition skills are beyond compare. Highly recommended for any lover/scholar of literature and/or creative writing.
Try by Dennis Cooper
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
I found this book incredibly self-centered and over-rated. Hate mail, come and get me.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Very good, disturbing book about a possible post-apocolyptic future. Unique style – the blunt simpleness of it matches perfectly with the world about which McCarthy writes.
Blankets by Craig Thompson
Wonderful graphic novel. Probably the only graphic novel I’ll ever read all the way through – and possibly again.
Seventh Son (Tales of Alvin Maker, Book 1) by Orson Scott Card
Such a great sci-fi/fantasy book. Takes place in early-American history. A young boy and ‘seventh son’ is born with special powers. Beginning of the ‘Alvin Maker’ series. Very entertaining.
Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
Insanely disgusting. Shocking for the sake of shock.. but maybe that’s why it’s worth reading.
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
The Book of Story Beginnings by Kristin Kladstrup
Interesting plot but not very well affected. Probably better for younger readers.
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Very beautiful… very difficult.
Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card
Unbelievably good sci-book. Probably the best ever.
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
One of the funniest books ever. I actually ‘laughed out loud.’
Paris France by Gertrude Stein
Wonderfully playful with words and style.
Candide by Voltaire
Briar Rose by Robert Coover
Stunningly creative and playfully postmodern. An examination of itself.
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquival
Very pretty. Great use of magical realism.
Tracks by Louise Erdrich
Very interesting story.. sort of a metaphysical native-American type thing. It’s been a while since I read it, but I remember liking it.
Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides
To me, this book had an extremely slow start. I was disinterested through the first 400 pages, but I persisted. And thank goodness. The last 150 pages, I believe, made the book the “Pulitzer Prize” winner that it is. It was impressive writing and information throughout, but the extended climax and conclusion are what really made this book worth reading. I wouldn’t have recommended the book three days ago, but today I think it’s a must-read.
Rain God by Arturo Islas
Enjoyable and real. An honest, heart-breaking look at homosexuality and Mexican-American culture. Humor, family, terminal illness, magical realism, terror, brutality, and peace. Wonderful, powerful read.
King Dork by Frank Portman
Very funny. Very good. Read it.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Not just an incredible science-fiction novel, but an incredible novel, period. Masterful story-telling, incredible characterization and plot development. Overwhelming in it’s perfect execution and follow-through.
Demian by Hermann Hesse
Very good book.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
I read this book for the first time as an adult (after having seen the Disney movie many times when a child) and find that it is incredibly more complex and important than one could ever imagine. The story is genius, as is Carroll’s creativity with language, prose, and imagination. He is witty, sarcastic, and pleasantly parodic. This has become one of my top-five novels of all time, and not in the “juvenile” category.
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
My first Woolf novel, and I’m a bit disappointed. The language is too flower, the characters undeveloped. It seems Woolf attempts to evoke feelings from her readers without providing the necessary information – she glazes over deaths and wars as if they’re quite inconsequential. The prose is confusingly liquid – dialogue and narration are often indistinguishable. I’m not sorry I read it, but I think it will be quite a long time before I pick up another Woolf novel, especially if this is the one which was supposed to have “defined Woolf as a major novelist.”
The World According to Garp by John Irving
Absolutely wonderful as far as meta-fiction goes. Brilliant in the structure and style. I was personally put off by the seemingly overly-sexual interest the father has with his youngest son, and by the rape and adultery scenes. Also, the rapid succession of deaths are a little hard to believe but maybe that’s the point? All in all, I would recommend it to those who like creative story-telling and who may have fantasies of writing their own novel one day.
Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
Beautiful book. Reminded me why I love Salinger. This will probably be one of few books which I read multiple times.
Songmaster by Orson Scott Card
Not my favorite of Card’s works, but that’s not exactly dismissive, considering Orson Scott Card is a Fantastic writer. I did enjoy this book, and it was a quick read… very creative and different (in a good way). It was also nice to see some homosexuality in a sci-fi book, though it wasn’t really portrayed in the best light. Overall, though.. I’m glad I read it.
The Confidence-Man by Herman Melville
This is probably Melville’s best work – and one of the best to come out of the American “renaissance” era, though it was dismissed at first, and for a long while, most likely due to the fact that no one understood what was going on (a problem which seems to still inhibit readings of this book). The novel is incredible – rife with Biblical, classical, historical, political, and social allusions. The story is, indeed, quite complicated and difficult to follow or figure out, but the message is worth the effort. The devil is in the details.
Equus by Peter Shaffer
Fascinating. Wild. Intriguing. Disturbing. Just wonderful.