Thursday, March 17, 2011

Demons and New Orleans

Several years ago I read an interesting fantasy novel by Tim Lebbon titled Dusk (rating: 7/10).  I noted at the time that I liked Lebbon's style and his imagination, although I thought his descriptions of violence were a bit over the top.  And I found the sexual references unnecessary rather than supportive of the story.  The world he portrays is a very ugly one, but it has the promise of being transformed if the heroes can only protect the boy who can bring magic back into the world.

I never did read the second volume, Dawn, probably because I was afraid that my hopes for seeing everything turn out for good might be dashed.  And I couldn't continue reading of ugliness if I didn't know for sure that beauty would finally return.

Now I've finished a very different book by Christoper Golden and Tim Lebbon, The Map of Moments (rating: 9/10).  An example of the sub-genre now referred to as urban fantasy, the story begins in post-Katrina New Orleans.  Driven to save his dead lover, the main character experiences a number of supernatural episodes showing him the sinister magic that has been controlling New Orleans for some two hundred years.

I found the plot of this novel to be very original and the story kept my interest.  I had to stay with it till the end, and I was rewarded by an ending that simultaneously tied everything together and surprised me both.  The Map of Moments was not marred the way I thought Dusk was (and feared that Dawn would be).  Just enough violence to make the supernatural truly horrifying, and no gratuitous sex.  And perhaps most importantly, the relationship between the main character and the woman he loved and lost to Hurricane Katrina was central to driving the plot.  This book is "A Novel of the Hidden Cities", and I'm eager to see if the other novels in this series (including Mind the Gap [London], The Chamber of Ten [Venice], and The Shadow Men [Boston]) are as good as this novel was.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

40 years of books

This past week, March 8 marked the 40th anniversary of my database of books I've read.  In those 40 years I've read well over 2000 books, averaging one a week.  When I started, I kept the database on index cards and stored the cards in larger and larger boxes until I finally converted it all to an Excel spreadsheet.  But when came out with their Book Collector program, I knew I had to migrate to it.  It was a monumental task because I not only moved the information in the Excel spreadsheet to Book Collector - I cataloged all the books in my collection as well.

As I look back over what I've read, it's hard to characterize what I've read.  I've read non-fiction and fiction of virtually every genre (though I'm not sure I've read a romance novel yet!).  I've read long books, like the Bible, and Tolstoy's War and Peace, as well as short books that are no more than a literary swallow for a bibliovore.  There are few books I've reread, with the exception of The Lord of the Rings, primarily because there are always so many other books waiting to be read I can't spare the time on rereading.  There are books that I'm happy to talk about with other people, and books that are so personal to me I can't comfortably talk about them.

I'm still hungry for more books.  That's why I wind up buying books faster than I can read them.  That's why I consider myself a bibliovore.