Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The usual drill

Back in the day, when I used to live in Delaware, one of my favorite things about visiting the library was picking up a copy of Book Page. Book Page is a monthly publication that reviews books and interviews authors. Great stuff. I would get it each month and read through it, adding books that sounded interesting to my "To Read" list.

Book Page is online but as you've probably gathered, I've old-fashioned about a lot of things, reading being one of them. I still don't own a cellphone so my guess is that I will be the last person on the planet to use a Kindle to read a book. I've gotten out of the habit of looking for recommendations on Book Page.

Why use it at all? I'm always looking for different ways to pick books. There's too many that have been written for me to be aware of everything that comes down the pike so if I can save my self some time and effort and read something that someone else liked, I should stand a good chance of liking it myself.

Key word, should. Just got done reading Jonathan Barnes'The Somnambulist. I read a review of his most recent book on Book Page, found that it was too new to acquire, thought that this one sounded better and requested it.

Did you ever see the movie The League of Extraordinary Gentleman? That's this book. Not the story line, although there are some similarities. What I mean is that LoEG had so much potential. A team of great literary characters that band together to save the world. Dorian Gray, Tom Sawyer, Dr. Jekyll, etc. The comic book series was supposed to be awesome although I never checked it out. The movie should have been and was not. It was a fun watch for me but miles away from good. That's The Somnambulist.

The Somnambulist is an eight foot mute with mystical powers. Apparently he cannot be hurt in any way, shape or form. He also loves to drink milk. He lives with Edward Moon, a conjurer and Holmesian ratiocinator who has fallen out of the favor of the public and the police after an incident that is much referred to in the book but never discussed. After about the 27th time, you're like, "Yes, Mr. Barnes, I get it. Moon messed up. Everyone knows about it. You don't need to have the bagger at the grocery store bring it up now, too".

Another irksome quality of Barnes is his interspersing his clear, simple writing with Words of the Day. I swear he was using one of those calendars when he wrote the book. They don't even make sense. It's like he came across the word "inchoate" which means partly or not fully in existence or operation and he'd write "Moon walked by the inchoate building under construction". The building would serve no purpose other than as the subject of inchoate. Moon also lies twice in the book. You know how I know? Because Barnes has him "lying fluently". What does that even mean? Why, yes, I'm fluent in lying. I tell both white lies and whoppers. The phrase just stood out as being so absurd to me that I remembered both citations.

It's crap like that that ruined the book for me. Lots of extraneous information. Way too many modifiers, and, oh, the dialogue. I started eating crackers while I was reading this because there was so much cheese.

This could have been a really good book. There was a lot to it that had promise. Mostly, though, it seems to be a lot of random things packed into a book that don't tie together well. This book did inspire me to start ranking my reading list. I'm going to mark my top ten favorites. As the twelfth book I've read this year (I think), this won't make the cut.

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