Showing posts from December, 2020

Encounter with Tiber (1996)

by Buzz Aldrin and John Barnes This ambitious novel weaves five narratives together  to tell the epic story of mankind's encounter with the alien Tiberians.   The Tiberians came to our solar system thousands of years ago but left behind only mysterious artifacts, most notably advanced information storage devices known as Encyclopedias.   The story of the Tiberians' adventures on our world is framed by the tale of the humans' multi-generational effort to retrieve an Encyclopedia and use the data therein to seek out the homeworld of the Tiberians.   Buzz Aldrin's contribution is evident here.   Buzz Aldrin Although perhaps too detailed at times, the description of the politics and hardware involved in man's conquest of space is fascinating.  "Encounter with Tiber" (German) A flaw of the novel becomes evident in the lengthy Tiberian mid-section, which probably came predominantly from co-author John Barnes.   John Barnes The aliens are far too human in their p

An American Dream (1965)

by Norman Mailer Former Congressman and current alcoholic Stephen  Rojack murders his estranged wife, a maven of high society, in a sudden, delirious rage, then throws her body from the window to make it look like suicide.   Over the course of the following 36 hours or so, he must deal with the police and his powerful father-in-law and begins a tentative romance with a nightclub singer.   Suffering from too much alcohol and too little sleep, his sanity becomes more frayed and his encounters become increasingly surreal.   Writing in the first-person perspective of a character whose mind is falling apart, Norman Mailer produces prose that is frequently opaque but never dull, often coming up with startling turns of phrase.   Norman Mailer The landscape of Mailer's American dream is fraught with violence, superstition, and unseemly sex.  I'm not sure I know what to make of it all, but it certainly is a stimulating ride. "The American Dream" (Persian) "The Vision of P

Dark Water (2005)

Director: Walter Salles Writers: Rafael Yglesias, from the screenplay by Hideo Nakata and Takashige Ichise, and the novel by Koji Suzuki Stars: Jennifer Connelly, John C. Reilly, Tim Roth, Dougray Scott, Pete Postlethwaite, Camryn Manheim, Ariel Gade When a newly divorced woman (Jennifer Connelly) moves into a creepy  apartment with her young daughter (Ariel Gade), she must contend with sinister neighbors, migraine headaches, a stressful custody battle, and, perhaps, a vengeful ghost.   The cast is very good and the atmosphere is creepy, but there just isn't much to this story.   The narrative becomes confused by some plot elements that amount to nothing--why did the lawyer (Tim Roth) lie about being with his family?  Was the husband (Dougray Scott) really plotting something with the suspicious teenagers?   It's a decent film, but nothing special.

Parting the Waters: Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement 1954-63 (America in the King Years #1) (1988)

by Taylor Branch Taylor Branch has written a magnificent history of the  early civil rights movement, using the life and career of Martin Luther King, Jr. as a framework.   Taylor Branch Although there is a great deal of information about King's life both public and private, other key players in this great drama also receive extensive treatment.   Martin Luther King Some, such as John and Robert Kennedy and J. Edgar Hoover, are well-known.   J. Edgar Hoover, sandwiched between the Kennedy brothers Others have received far less recognition: Vernon Johns, the powerful itinerant country preacher who was a kind of grandfather to the movement;   Vernon Johns Bayard Rustin, whose unconventional lifestyle clashed with political reality in a way that caused much pain to King;   Bayard Rustin Stanley Levison, one of King's closest confidantes and advisors, from whom King was pressured to distance himself because of alleged communist ties;   Stanley Levison Bob Moses, a tireless, courage

All She Was Worth (1992)

by Miyuki Miyabe In Japan, a police inspector on leave to recover from  a gunshot wound is enlisted by his nephew to find his missing fiancee.   Soon, he is on the trail of a woman who may have committed murder to steal the identity of another.  Miyuki Miyabe This novel definitely benefits from its foreign setting.  Interesting facts and insights into Japanese society enliven a mystery that seems a bit plodding at times.   Although it drags in the middle, it really begins to pick up momentum again toward the end.   "Train" (Japanese) The finale reveals that this novel is not really about the mystery so much as it is about Inspector Honma and his drive to solve the puzzle.  "Track Traces" (Indonesian) Honma is a well-drawn character, but I would have been happier if the novel had provided more closure concerning the runaway fiancĂ©e. "Train" (Chinese) "A Map for Hell" (French) "The Burning Chariot" (Russian) "Freight Car" (Korea