Thursday, November 24, 2005

A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets by Donald H. Menzel and Jay M. Pasachoff

I’ve had this book forever, ever since I first got interested in astronomy, and finally got around to reading it cover to cover now. It didn’t really teach me much, but gave me some new ways of thinking about things. Galaxies, for instance. Yeah, we all know there are tons of them up there, but it isn’t until you read the descriptions associated with 52 star charts highlighting every observable point of interest in the sky, that you really get an understanding of how many there actually are. Holy Christ, there are a freaking ton of galaxies up there.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Tom Clancy’s Op-Center created by Tom Clancy and Steve Pieczenik

Note that this is not Op-Center by Tom Clancy. It is Tom Clancy’s Op-Center created by Tom Clancy and Steve Pieczenik. I wonder which of them inserted the sexist portrayal of the female characters. Or the warriors replete with literary references for every desperate situation. Other than those distractions, it was an enjoyable mindless read.

Saturday, November 5, 2005

The Road to Wellville by T. Coraghessan Boyle

I want to read more Boyle. What better thing can be said about a writer? The subject matter doesn’t matter. Just as long as he wrote it. The prose is that good. This one, like all the others I’ve read, is about two people whose lives intersect and connect in strange and entertaining ways.

Will Lightbody is a man with a stomach ailment who lets his wife bring him to the famed health spa run by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg in Battle Creek, Michigan. There he is scrubbed inside and out by special concoctions and enemas, falls in love with his nurse, and watches his wife drift off into the clutches of Dr. Spitzvogel, the quack womb manipulator.

Charlie Ossining is a young man come to Battle Creek to make a fortune in the new cereal business, partnered with a con man named Bender who leaves town with all their investors’ money and sticks Charlie with the bill for the high life he had been living.

On one level, the book is very much about con men, the knowing and the unknowing, and the suckers they attract, and how they are all happy as punch until they realize the stuff they’ve been buying is a whole lot of nothing. Shares in a non-existent cereal company or adherence to the latest healthy living fad, Boyle seems to be saying it doesn’t much matter.