My Recent Reading Exploits
Inanities aside, let's get on to things that really matter, huh?
. . . Books! Reviews for three I have recently read.
The Film Mystery by Arthur B. Reeve
Let me just say . . . yelch. Though it was a well-plotted mystery, the revelation and the solution itself were awful. And there's certainly nothing in his writing style, in its own right a bit hard to swallow at times, to make a bad mystery worth suffering. That's the first, and last, that I'll read of his novels. So I won't waste any more time talking further about the book.
I'm glad it was free on Kindle.
Oh--my--pencil. I loved this novel! Nothing beats a good study in human nature, and this was, the good and the bad. It was a fascinating, intricately woven world, that little Maycomb, which shows that people are people in big city or small town. It reminds me of Miss Marple's St. Mary Mead.
One thing I enjoyed in particular was that it had no corporeal plot, and yet, it did. For one thing, we had one passing comment on the first page that drew us from the first to the last with an invisible string. And no matter what else went on throughout the story, the titular mockingbird was the centerpiece of the book. There we find a truly, truly fascinating character. I can't say too much without giving anything away, but I will say that that character is now one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. And the whole ending itself was wonderfully executed. The whole novel was worth reading, and yet those final two or three chapters were what made it impossibly beyond worthwhile.
I am the type of person who likes a tangibility in his stories, a structural integrity into which I can bite; this so wonderfully had a very powerful structure, yet none at all, which makes it an amazing magic-trick of penmanship.
My one complaint was her profusion of information dumps. Especially toward the beginning, Harper Lee left us intermittent mires of detail for us to wallow in. But the engaging way in which she laid down all this information provided a steppingstone path through the bog, which again leaves me wondering at her uncanny ability to make good into great, bad into good, and great into greater.
When I finished, I closed the book, sat down, stroked the cover, and murmured, "Wow. That was spectacular." Fully sated, I just relaxed there for maybe thirty minutes, savoring the flavor.
Definitely one of the better books I have ever read. And you're telling me this amazing woman only ever wrote one novel?
If there's one author who deserves to succeed To Kill a Mockingbird, it's the illustrious Agatha Christie. It's hard to say which of her works are her best, because they all are. Hence, this was one of her best. Maybe better than that.
As is typical of her mysteries, and maybe most mysteries, it started out a little slow and I had trouble getting interested. But then the investigation starts and begins to pick up. Maybe that's what I like about mysteries; they start you out on ground level and then carry you to the top floor, and in Agatha Christie's case, through the roof on a lift akin to Willy Wonka's glass elevator.
Of course I can't say anything about the solution without spoiling an intricately woven imbroglio, but I can say that as usual my suspicions were entirely elsewhere when Agatha moved her finger toward the real criminal, and left me saying: "Of course! Of course! I should have seen it!" That's the most important quality of any mystery. It should seem obvious, it should seem you came close to solving it yourself, without anything of the kind being remotely true.
I can comment, of course, on characters. Agatha Christie always fills her mansions or, as in this case, villages with a colorful panoply of characters, from the hated, to the loved, to the hilarious. The Vicar was a pleasant character and he had a very sweet wife. Agatha's elderly women are always hilariously vexing, and Miss Marple's saving grace is that she's drop-dead ingenious.
While I highly recommend it, I caution you to find an edition from a different publisher. At least in this case, the errata were a few too many for my tastes.
Now I've started 100%: The Story of a Patriot, by Upton Sinclair. Not enthralling me thus far. I'll probably be putting it aside, now that I've gotten word back from most of my alpha readers, to read over my novel and begin revision. But when I get back to 100% and finish it, I'll let you know.
Until next time,
Sincerely, Nuile: Lunatic Wordsmith