Friday, May 31, 2013

#590. The Cephalopod Coffeehouse May 2013

I've got a bunch of books to choose from:
  • The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco
  • The March by E.L. Doctorow
  • The Final Solution by Michael Chabon
  • how i became stupid by Martin Page
  • Rez Salute by Jim Northrup
  • Supergods by Grant Morrison
  • The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
  • Martin Monsterman by Manny Trembley
  • Kaboom! Volume 1 by Jeph Loeb & Jeff Matsuda
And the book I'm reading now, 11/22/63 by Stephen King.

None of these were bad.  On Goodreads I rated each of them either four or five stars (out of five) (and King is already looking at five stars), which meant that this month was an uncommonly good one for me as far as reading went (not to mention prolific, though a lot of these were fairly short).  Choosing one book to rule them all (rather than blab on about all of them), I'll go easy and talk about the current one. 

I've talked about 11/22/63 and King in the past.  The book's central location (or at least starting point) is Lisbon Falls, Maine, which is my hometown, and right next door to where King himself grew up.  Al's Diner isn't really, but Frank Anicetti and the Kennebec Fruit Company are.  You may not know either by name, and you may not even know their defining element, Moxie, but trust me, all three are a big deal, not just for me, not just for Lisbon, but for a lot of people.  The Moxie Festival draws thousands to town every year (this year's is being held July 12-14, if you care to stop by).  Moxie is an acquired taste, a soft drink of a bygone era, when soda was used as medicine (no kidding).

The book is King at his best.  It's about the Kennedy assassination, but it's also about people, which contrary to popular opinion is what he does best.  You can't tell a good horror story without knowing about people, and it's something King knows better than anyone.  It's another of the many stories he's been waiting to tell for years.


Laoch of Chicago said...

The 11/22/63 is good. It has a kind of relentless feeling of foreboding and fate running through it.

Stephanie said...

Ah! Finally, a book review of a book I've actually read. :) I read it a few months ago and enjoyed it as well. It definitely keeps up with the notion that Messing With Time is bad, which seems to be the conclusion of every time-travel book. I didn't really notice this at the time, but a few friends were miffed at the depiction of the girlfriend: apparently King has this habit of depicting women as kind of a beautiful mess until the Hero comes along and fixes them.

Michael Offutt, "Johnny on the Spot" said...

I haven't read 11/22/63 yet, but maybe I should. Thanks for the heads up.

Jenny said...

Your hometown connection with 11/22/63 is pretty cool. I agree that King does characters so well, but I don't read much of his fiction these days. This sounds like a good one to bring me back into the fold.

Jenny at Choice City Native

The Armchair Squid said...

Fascination with the Kennedy assassination is eternal - for King's generation, at any rate.

You really have read a lot of books lately! Thanks for participating, Tony, and for promoting the idea.

MOCK! said...

I devoured King (and Koontz) back in high school but fell away when both became too prolific (Regulator era King). Both 11/22/63 and the Dome one intrigued me...perhaps I'll take the plunge!

Melissa Ann said...

I have been debating picking that one up myself, I think I shall now. I envy the number of books you read this month, I used to read more but now between studying and work and kids... I was lucky to get the one in. :(

Melissa Ann at My Creatively Random Life

Briane P said...

11/22/63 never really appealed to me -- I tend to be put off by things that seem nonfictiony, as I generally am not into reading nonfiction.

That plus I'm sort of antiKing right now based on his whole "ebooks maybe never" thing that's a publicity stunt, plus the last King book I read was Dreamcatchers, which was only okay -- I mean, seriously, the ending was (like Patricia Cornwell's later Scarpetta books) put in entirely to make a movie out of it -- have left this one off my list.

I have "how I became stupid" on my wishlist to read in the future. Where do you find the time?

Tony Laplume said...

Laoch, one of King's best instincts as a writer is to never forget the story he's telling. He brings up little reminders all the time.

Stephanie, maybe in some of his books he writes like that. But Frannie is as strong a character, maybe stronger, than anyone, in The Stand, and of course Carrie (although I haven't read it) has one of the most famous female leads in modern literature.

Michael, it'd be a good starting point for general Stephen King appreciation.

Jenny, absolutely. I have still read relatively little, but it instantly reminded me of everything I loved about what I have.

Squid, not a problem!

MOCK!, I resisted King for years. Turned out to be a silly instinct.

Melissa, as I'll explain in the next response, this isn't typical of me, but it was a good reading month all the same.

Briane, I find the time by walking and reading. I walk everywhere, and in the summer of 2011 I started reading while I walked. As I said in the post, a lot of these books were short, but it also didn't hurt that they were on the whole compulsively readable, which is something you always hope when you're selecting books, but you can only guess how they'll go down once you dig into them. I'm hoping more and more of this will follow, because I have a long reading list, and plenty more where that came from...

And since Briane is someone who appreciates a good amount of wordage, I mostly read fiction myself, too. Good writers of nonfiction are hard to find, even among the celebrated ones, and even writers of fiction who blend in nonfiction don't often know what to do with it. And anyway, King spends most of this book writing about fiction rather than nonfiction. I'm halfway through and he hasn't reached Oswald yet.

The Armchair Squid said...

So glad you're in for next month, too!

Tony Laplume said...

It'll be my link to the outside world!


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