Thursday, April 1, 2010

Some classicals, and some not-so's.

Tick Tock
Dean Koontz
Read by Paul Michael

“The Night of a Doll Snake Rat-quick Little Monster Thing”
“Writer Meets Witch”

Summary: A Vietnamese writer of detective novels buys a car, has a demon set upon him, wrecks the car, and meets the love of his life. Rewind-repeat the second and third actions within the previous sentence.

Rating: Read if bored. It’s a light, humorous novel of a purely recreational nature.

Rating of the audio: Decent. The guy’s voice is appropriate to the book, and he manages to convey it with all the necessary pauses.

The book starts out creepy, and shortly gets ridiculous. It’s one of those reads that makes you go “what the fluff” around the middle, and keep a perpetual raised eyebrow up until the end, where the raised bit becomes a concerned frown of the “what was the writer on…?” sort. Still, it’s a good waste of time, if you’ve got time to waste.

There is a brief writers’ insert after the end, which pretty much explains the genre that Koontz was going for. I’d almost recommend that one listens to it before the rest of the book, as it makes the listening to the rest less “wtf-y”.

The March
E.L. Doctorow
Read by Joe Morton

“Stephen King’s ‘The Walk’ meets diversity and social commentary”
“Rape-Pillage-Scavenging 201, with Special Emphasis on Dislocation”

Summary: A narrative which follows a number of people throughout the march of William Sherman and his army towards the coast, and the end of American Civil War.

Rating: Undecided. Not exactly a must-read, but not RIB (read if bored), either. I suspect the physical book would be somewhere around the lower tier of “Must-read if you enjoy historical fiction”.

Rating of the audio: Poor. The guy reads well, but there are insufficient breaks between chapters/points of view. This creates moments when, as you are caught in the flow of the story, you suddenly realize that they are no longer talking about Madam X, but Sir Y.

One thing I will say about this book: it does make you think about experiences of larger numbers of people affected by conflicts. Not that one needs to necessarily draw on the current on-goings in the Middle East, but that does come to mind.

The style of writing is vaguely reminiscent of Ken Follett, with a lot less implausible twists and turns. The author lacks the humane approach towards his characters, but does not particularly delight in graphic scenes of any sort.

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes II
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Read by David Timson


“The World’s Greatest Detective Makes Headlines with Logical Leaps and Bounds”
“Elementary, my Dear Watson”

Summary: A series of short stories about intriguing cases, solved by the great detective and his medically minded sidekick.

Rating: A must-read, on principle. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes are kind of like Adventures of Tom Sawyer.. a classic.

Rating of the audio: Simply delightful. The guy has a perfect “Dr. Watson”-ish voice, and varies it as needed.

I’ve no particular opinion on any one story, outside their overall unpredictability. The 4 actual novels about this character have been added to the to-read list, however.