rachelmanija: (Book Fix)
( Oct. 7th, 2006 03:53 pm)
I abandon all hope of writing long reviews of any of the books I've read recently, except maybe Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

Soul Kitchen, by Poppy Z. Brite.

A gripping installment of her series about Rickey and G-Man, New Orleans chefs and soulmates. Rickey injures his back, suffers chronic pain, and ends up hooked on Vicodin thanks to a doctor involved in some shady dealings; he also hires a chef who was unjustly imprisoned for murder for ten years, and ends up under the thumb of the man who actually committed the crime. For once, the crime element is integrated into rest of the plot rather than an add-on, and is also integral to the themes of racism and corruption in New Orleans. The writing is excellent, but I felt that the ending was overly cheerful considering how badly some of the characters other than Rickey and G-Man ended up.

Campus Sexpot, by David Carkeet.

A memoir about how a high school teacher in his home town wrote a steamy pulp novel based on actual town characters, then fled to Mexico, and how the locals reacted. This starts out well, with hilarious excerpts from the novel, but gradually loses steam. At the end it becomes a portrait of the author's father, which has absolutely nothing to do with anything that's been set up earlier. About the fiftieth memoir I've read which would have made an excellent long essay. Also, I am very curious as to how he got permission to do such extensive excerpts from the pulp novel, which is not listed where one normally lists permissions. Unless maybe the whole thing is fiction? But if so, you'd think he'd have made it more dramatic.

Scruffy, by Paul Gallico

Gallico used to be quite popular and is now pretty much forgotten. He wrote The Poseidon Adventure, but I think his best writing was in his portraits of animals: the cat who gets amnesia and believes she's a goddess in Thomasina, the street-smart and compassionate Jennie in The Abandoned, and the clever, vicious, utterly unredeemable eponymous Barbary ape of Scruffy, whose keepers love him precisely because he's so aggressively unlovable.

Scruffy is based on the legend that the British would be kicked off Gibraltar if its colony of imported macaques ever died out. It's set in WWII, when the apes are indeed dying out, and this is seized upon by Nazi propagandists. A crew of hapless officers must find a mate for Scruffy, the nastiest and ugliest ape ever to (literally) bite the hands that feed him. Dated, somewhat sexist, and colonialist, yet quite funny if you can get past that: re-reading revealed that it was not only a lack of mature judgement that made me like it when I was eleven.
rachelmanija: (Book Fix)
( Oct. 7th, 2006 03:53 pm)
I abandon all hope of writing long reviews of any of the books I've read recently, except maybe Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

Soul Kitchen, by Poppy Z. Brite.

A gripping installment of her series about Rickey and G-Man, New Orleans chefs and soulmates. Rickey injures his back, suffers chronic pain, and ends up hooked on Vicodin thanks to a doctor involved in some shady dealings; he also hires a chef who was unjustly imprisoned for murder for ten years, and ends up under the thumb of the man who actually committed the crime. For once, the crime element is integrated into rest of the plot rather than an add-on, and is also integral to the themes of racism and corruption in New Orleans. The writing is excellent, but I felt that the ending was overly cheerful considering how badly some of the characters other than Rickey and G-Man ended up.

Campus Sexpot, by David Carkeet.

A memoir about how a high school teacher in his home town wrote a steamy pulp novel based on actual town characters, then fled to Mexico, and how the locals reacted. This starts out well, with hilarious excerpts from the novel, but gradually loses steam. At the end it becomes a portrait of the author's father, which has absolutely nothing to do with anything that's been set up earlier. About the fiftieth memoir I've read which would have made an excellent long essay. Also, I am very curious as to how he got permission to do such extensive excerpts from the pulp novel, which is not listed where one normally lists permissions. Unless maybe the whole thing is fiction? But if so, you'd think he'd have made it more dramatic.

Scruffy, by Paul Gallico

Gallico used to be quite popular and is now pretty much forgotten. He wrote The Poseidon Adventure, but I think his best writing was in his portraits of animals: the cat who gets amnesia and believes she's a goddess in Thomasina, the street-smart and compassionate Jennie in The Abandoned, and the clever, vicious, utterly unredeemable eponymous Barbary ape of Scruffy, whose keepers love him precisely because he's so aggressively unlovable.

Scruffy is based on the legend that the British would be kicked off Gibraltar if its colony of imported macaques ever died out. It's set in WWII, when the apes are indeed dying out, and this is seized upon by Nazi propagandists. A crew of hapless officers must find a mate for Scruffy, the nastiest and ugliest ape ever to (literally) bite the hands that feed him. Dated, somewhat sexist, and colonialist, yet quite funny if you can get past that: re-reading revealed that it was not only a lack of mature judgement that made me like it when I was eleven.
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