Fiction Roundup May 2007

It looks like I haven’t done a fiction review for most of the past year, so this will be a chance to collect everything I’ve read but wouldn’t admit to reading when I was supposed to be studying 🙂

Intuition, by Allegra Goodman

This sounded interesting after reading the Economist review, so I picked it up at a used book store last fall. I can’t remember most of the details now, but what I really liked was the depiction of the human side of science. We have this myth of science that heroic scientists march into the laboratory and come out with unquestionable objective results, and it’s just not how things work. By placing this work in the maelstrom of funding and politics and personality conflicts, Goodman shows how murky and fuzzy scientific results can be.

High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby

No idea when I picked this one up. It’s possible I borrowed it, but I have no idea who from if so. I was curious if the book would be as good as the movie. The answer was, not so much. John Cusack elevates everything he’s in.

Love Monkey, by Kyle Smith

I really liked the TV show based on this book, and a friend recommended it to me since I’m living in New York now, so I picked it up used this spring. Tolerably amusing tale of the exploits of a single guy in New York. I couldn’t decide if I should be taking notes or not.

Con Ed, by Matthew Klein
Geek Mafia, by Rick Dakan

Picked these up after seeing them recommended by Seth Godin. Both are fast-paced caper stories, which I adore. And both are set in the Bay Area, so it was fun keeping track of all the places I’ve been. Quick but enjoyable reads – as Seth says, great beach reading.

Repairman Jack series, by F. Paul Wilson

I heard about this series from David Hines, who I think is the same David Hines who used to post great reviews of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on alt.tv.buffy-v-slayer. Anyway, it sounded interesting, I was on vacation in March, wandered into a bookstore, and picked up one. So far I’ve read The Tomb, Legacies, and Conspiracies. They’re tolerably entertaining, but pulpy mindless entertainment. I like the character of Repairman Jack – he seems like a toned-down version of Burke from Andrew Vachss – but the plots aren’t that involving and the other characters are paper-thin. The books have very little re-readability value so I probably won’t buy any more of them. But they were entertaining enough that I’ll probably read the rest if I can find them in the library.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

I picked this up at the used bookstore purely because of the title, as a wallflower myself. Only after picking it up did I notice the author. Chbosky was the writer and director of one of my favorite independent films ever, The Four Corners of Nowhere, which nobody has ever seen unless they happened to watch the Sundance Channel during the few months in 1996 when they were broadcasting this movie (I still have it on videotape and recently copied it to DVD).

Anyway, this is a coming-of-age story of a withdrawn high school freshman. It’s written as a series of letters, and so the writing style is intentionally poor to match a freshman’s writing, which gets a bit annoying at times (think Flowers for Algernon). But the story is decent, and it’s touching to watch the kid try to figure out who he is.

3 thoughts on “Fiction Roundup May 2007

  1. Regarding your comments on Intuition, I have been enjoying Kim Stanley Robinson’s newest series for similar reasons. A bunch of scientists and other people in DC trying to figure out how to move the behemoth that is the US govt into acting to slow/stop climate change. The first book is Forty Signs of Rain.

    I’d say the biggest weakness is Robinson’s tendency to make his characters archetypes instead of people. Kind of like Arthur Clarke tended to do. That, and the really unlikely love plot.

  2. Chbosky went to my high school–that’s why I picked it up initially. It’s a decent book and it’s cool that I know Pat, who was mentioned in the acknowledgements and I knew some of the teachers in the book. A bit weird, really.

    I like the High Fidelity book. Quick and enjoyable read, though I don’t necessarily think it’s better than the book.

    I liked the two or three episodes of Love Monkey that aired on CBS before it got yanked and I’ve thought about getting the book. I’m not sure that your “recommendation” sways me towards it, though.

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