Monday, February 27, 2012

Stephen King's 11/22/63- Not For Kids

Historical fiction makes me feel tingly in funny places.  It's ok for me to say that, right?

After taking a trip to the 6th Floor Museum in Dealey Plaza, my interest in JFK's assassination had been renewed. I got the book, hoping to learn more about the assassination and the time period (I'm guessing you already know how I feel about historicals). 

Jake Epping, English teacher divorcee with a penchant for cheap hamburgers, gets a late night call from the owner of his favorite hamburger joint, Al.  Surprised to even get the call, Jake humors his friend and meets him at the diner. Once he arrives, Jake learns of a "rabbit hole" that would take him back to September of 1958.

After Jake gets a grasp on the "rabbit hole" and accepts it as truth, Al then proposes a theory to him: saving JFK from being assassinated would prevent the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr, racial wars, and Vietnam War. Al convinces Jake that he could save millions by going back to 1958 with a mission to save Kennedy.

Reluctantly Jake Epping goes back in time to become George Amberson, an aspiring writer/realtor travelling on business.

In traditional Stephen King fashion, the novel is woven with intricate, smaller plot lines that ultimately lead up to November 22, 1963.

I was born in the 80's, and I have no idea what 1958 was like.  King paints such a detailed picture, down to cigarette smoke, bus exhaust fumes, and limited air conditioning; that I can imagine walking through the rabbit hole and feeling the September 1958 sun shining on my face.

Well done, Mr. King. Well done.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Jennifer McMahon's Promise Not to Tell- Not for kids

This book had been on my reading list for about a year.  Why didn't I read it sooner?

Kate Cypher has returned to her hippie village in Vermont, to care for her elderly mother.  Upon her return, a young girl is brutally murdered. Strange things start happening in New Hope, as law enforcement tries to solve this young girl's murder.  Thirty years earlier Kate's best friend is murdered the same way, and Kate must also deal with her part in Del's murder.

The author tells Kate's story of present and past, through flashbacks organized in a reader friendly way. I like how each chapter is labeled with the time period, and it's easy to switch back and forth. The author brings in a unique style of living that intrigues me, and leaves me in constant suspense.

I work in a school, with kids in the same age group as Del. I see how cruel kids can be to one another, and I hear of heartbreaking circumstances daily.  I guess this book has struck a chord with me because of what I have seen and heard in real life. I can't stop thinking about this book, and yet it leaves me without much to say.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Gareth Flood's Oil and Corruption

Upon reading the synopsis of the novel, I see that the author described it as "nefarious." In some ways it is, but in others I thought it was funny.  Like Inglorious Basterds funny. Maybe that's not what the author intended, but that's my interpretation.

The novel is about an British man, Jonathan Marshall, who is just some underdog analyst for a major oil corporation.  He completes an analysis for another coworker and people start dying, including his coworker and several attempts on his life.

I thought the novel to be funny for several reasons.  The author covers very intense and serious subject matter, but he uses words and phrases such as "The last of the coins were fed in faster than the slot machine rate of a Florida retiree with cancer in Vegas," to create images that may/may not be intentionally funny. The author also uses the same style of writing to create a character's inner thoughts.  My favorite example is "He is more slippery than a greased pig."  Hilarious, or is it just me?

Another reason I thought the novel was so funny was the way the characters were described and developed.  Most of the characters are pretty flat, with the exception of Jonathan Marshall.  That's ok, it works for this book. Let's just examine some of these other characters:

Hoot Mitchel: Oil tycoon and CEO, who is killed to pave the way for new oil pipelines. The way I imagine this guy is not very flattering. He's stupid wealthy, fat (thinks he's God's gift), and his dialect gives the impression of the stereotypical-dumbass-American that says "Amuricah" for "America."

The Cajun, The Tartan, The Nasty Arab, One Dirty Hebe- All of these are the "muscle man" for their bosses. The Cajun and The Tartan are "secret weapons," assassins that are killing machines meant for mass destruction. What's funny about these killers is that they all have a stereotypical character trait magnified. If people like this really exist, then I don't know what I'm gonna do....

Overall, the book is a good read.  If the funny parts weren't intended in this "nefarious tale," then it's an extra bonus.