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« March, 2014 »

Bellows Falls   book icon  
by Archer Mayor (1997)

read: 27 March 2014
rating: [+]
category: fiction

I may be at a stopping point with these for a while. I liked this book! I liked looking into the background of Bellows Falls and I thought the storyline was compelling and made me keep reading. I had originally checked out this book via Open Library and the version I got was full of OCR errors so I had to wait and get it the next day from the actual public library (which carries all of them) which threw off my rhythm. Happy to have been reading a lot more so far this year. Now I have to branch out some more.

Ragman’s Memory   book icon  
by Archer Mayor (1997)

read: 24 March 2014
rating: [+]
category: fiction

Continuing to plow through these. This was a better storyline than the last one. A real weird “What is going on here?” situation where you think it’s the one bad guy and it turns out to be another one. I’m sort of getting used to Mayor’s rhythm lately, how you are pretty sure one person is getting set up to be the bad guy but there is often multiple layers of bad guys in there. Anyhow, another good local mystery, quite enjoyable.

Dark Root   book icon  
by Archer Mayor (1996)

read: 15 March 2014
rating: [+]
category: fiction

Another one of these books down as I plow through the Joe Gunther series. I enjoyed it but I found it somewhat complex. I appreciate that Mayor can take a topic like “Asian gangs in Vermont” and not turn it into a bunch of racial cheap shots (by any of his characters for the most part, not just the main ones) but it was still tough to keep track of a zillion characters with new and unfamiliar names. This book also had very little of the interpersonal Gail/Joe story that I tend to like. So, still enjoyed this and Mayor’s writing is top notch but this was probably my least favorite one so far and hardest to get into and stay into.

Sugar in the Raw   book icon  
by Rebecca Carroll (1997)

read: 12 March 2014
rating: [+]
categories: collection, non-fiction

Part of my “make an effort” prgram this year. This collection of essays by young (11-20-ish) black girls in America was a good read. Lots of different perspectives, some that I could get my head around and some that I couldn’t. I tried to silence my inner “Huh?” voice and just listen to what these girls had to say, about being girls growing into women, about America versus other countries, about whether they had white friends, how they got along in school, etc. Eye-opening and well-curated by Carroll, this book is well worth a read, especially if you think it’s maybe not for you.

Fruits of the Poisonous Tree   book icon  
by Archer Mayor (2007)

read: 9 March 2014
rating: [+]
category: fiction

Plowing through some Archer Mayor to make the days go by. Deciding to read them in order and this was the one I had skipped earlier because it was rapey and I usually don’t trust authors to write sympathetically about rape but rather to use it for shock value and that always bothers me. This book was better. It’s got all of Mayor’s trademarks--lots of stuff takes place in places you know about in Vermont, Joe Gunther and Gail figure prominently and move the general series arc along even as the crime is getting solved, there is a big cast of characters and some political backdrop. I enjoyed it and it wrapped up a little more cleanly than the last one.

The Skeleton’s Knee   book icon  
by Archer Mayor (1994)

read: 8 March 2014
rating: [+]
category: fiction

While it’s not doing anything for my “read more non-whitemale authors” push I’ve decided to work my way sequentially through Archer Mayor’s police procedurals after picking up and enjoying one of the more recent Joe Gunther books. So this book is #4 on the list and I have maybe 18 more, though I suspect I’d read some of them before I started keeping track (which means over 17 years ago, which may be mathematically impossible). I enjoyed it. It had a lot of weird forensic work when a skeleton dug up in the dooryard of a hermit turns out to have an artificial knee. Lots of running around and a side trip to Chicago and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The book felt like it wrapped up a little quickly and I was expecting a bit more in the way of “So this is how all the things were interrelated” instead of making some of those connections myself. Still, Gunther is likeable and it’s neat to watch his motley group of friends and enemies evolve over time.

Paradise City   book icon  
by Archer Mayor (2013)

read: 2 March 2014
rating: [+]
category: fiction

I really should stop reading these books out of order, but each time I see an Archer Mayor book I haven’t read, I go snagging it. But now that I’ve read this, as of now his second to last book, I already know who dies from some earlier books. Oh well. This is another great Mayor book that ventures south of Vermont and takes place largely in the Northampton MA area. I even saw Hampshire College mentioned in there for a sec. As always it’s a lively romp and you’re never quite sure whodunit. Worth reading.

Saturday Night Live FAQ   book icon  
by Stephen Tropiano (2013)

read: 2 March 2014
rating: [+]
category: non-fiction

Liked this book but it’s worth mentioning that it’s part of a series called the FAQ series and doesn’t contain an actual FAQ to the series per se. That said it has a lot of interesting facts and draws on a lot of primary source material to tell you probably more about the show than you knew already. Weirdly, for such a well-researched book, the book has a lot of TYPOS in it. I’m not sure why this bugs me so much but in a real compendium-type publication like this, you’d expect better. Definitely worth a read for people who are interested in the early days of SNL, or the list of people who have said “fuck” on the air.

Snapper   book icon  
by Brian Kimberling (2013)

read: 1 March 2014
rating: [+]
category: fiction

This is one of those just-barely fiction titles where the protagonist is basically someone with many of the same characteristics as the author. I spent a lot of the time I was reading this book thinking “Well that would have been amusing in real life but it doesn’t make a particularly good story” I’m a bird lover and sometimes watcher and the bird-y parts of this book were the best parts. The worst parts were when the somewhat loserish- main character is mooning over a woman who sleeps with him but doesn’t want to be in a grown up relationship with him. He finally has to move to Vermont to get away from her and that seems to make all the difference. Liked it okay, didn’t love it, would maybe like to read this guy’s actual biography instead of a fictionalized account of his life.

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