Tag Archives: books

An Advance Review of Ivan Doig’s Sweet Thunder

This review is also posted on Goodreads.com.

I received this copy of Sweet Thunder as part of a First-Reads Giveaway.

Ivan Doig knows Montana. While this was my first adventure with the Western wordsmith, his reverence for the state that is fondly referred to as “The Last Best Place” comes through with every word. The novel captures the sense of rugged romanticism that has always characterized Montana. Living is tough out there and you’ve got to be strong to take it. But if you can survive, it’s all worthwhile.

The novel is set in Butte, one of the ugliest cities that I have ever stepped foot in (or, more often, driven straight through). So it is a testament to the power of Sweet Thunder that I came away from the story thinking of Butte in a kinder light. The Butte Public Library plays a prominent role in the story and I find myself wanting to visit Butte again just to see it.

The story itself is interesting and quick. The characters are just that. Characters. Slightly stock feeling and I kept waiting for someone to start bouncing around on their toes, fists up saying, “Why I oughta.” Luckily they stopped just shy of that. The progression of events is somewhat predictable but entertaining all the same. The ending is a little too clean for my liking but you know, sometimes that’s okay.


The Curse Of The Prolific Writer

Did you know that Stephen King has published over fifty books? Fifty full length novels or stories. And FIFTEEN of those have been turned into movies.

I had never read and of his works until last year when my best friend finally talked me into reading the Dark Tower series.

“It’s not really Stephen King-y,” she said. “It’s not really that scary (this was a lie) and it’s really well written.”

So I picked up the Gunslinger from the library and from the first brilliant line, I was hooked.

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”

This has to be one of the best first lines of all time. Who is the man in black? Who is the gunslinger? Is he chasing the man in black or just following his trail? And WHAT are they doing in the desert?

Come to that, what desert are they in?

That simple, twelve word sentence had me asking five separate questions, all of which desperately needed answering. One short month later, I was finished with the seventh book.

(Note: At the time I didn’t know about The Wind Through The Keyhole and as of yet, I still haven’t read it. It is on order though and should be here in a few days!)

I loved the series. Roland was such an amazing character and I fell in love with he and his little family of misfits. But after I finished the series, I still didn’t feel any need to seek out King’s other works.

Why not?

As you can see from my friend’s “not Stephen King-y” comment, we had some biases. And to be honest, these biases came from a pretty pretentious place. I was a creative writing major at the time and spending most of my time writing or reading about writing. I had developed the idea that in order for a book to be any good, it had to have taken years and a part of the writer’s soul in its creation.

So when I looked at the Stephen King shelf in the bookstore and saw his 50+ books, what did I see? A man worse than Voldemort who had split his soul into 50 pieces. I thought that anything he wrote must be cheap and poorly written because he had obviously whipped each book out in an afternoon.

And my love for the Dark Tower series did nothing to change that perception because it took King over twenty years to write those seven wonderful volumes. I assumed that all of his care and talent went into those works and the rest was just garbage.

Well, Mister King, I am sorry. I am so, so sorry. I am sorry that I skimmed over your section in the bookstore for twenty seven years. I am sorry that I never watched any of your movies besides The Shining. I am sorry for you but most of all I am sorry for myself. Because of my pretentious preconceived ideas, I robbed myself of years of wonderful reading.

You see, I just moved. And in the move i had to get rid of most of my books. So when I got to my new home in Arizona I happily accepted a couple boxes of books from my boyfriend’s parents. The told me to keep what I wanted and donate the rest.

Many of them were not my taste but I put them on my empty shelves as placeholders until I could get some that I really wanted (I just ordered about 35 books online, they should be here any day! I’ll keep you posted.). Among them were two Stephen King books, The Shining and The Running Man.

I should have known what was going to happen, but I didn’t see it coming. One day, I got bored. I sat and I stared at the books on my shelf waiting to feel the heart-to-book lightening bolt that I let guide all of my reading decisions. My eyes skimmed over the Shining and…I felt something. I gave it a second look. And there it was.

The lightening bolt was faint, but it was there. I pulled the dog-eared paperback off the shelf, plopped down on the couch and read the whole thing. The next day I read The Running Man. And now, here I am. A full blown Stephen King addict. Better late than never, right?

Photo on 2013-05-31 at 12.16

We Are The Martians: A grossly inadequate attempt to honor a genius.

He is gone
but golden skinned Martians and space men live on.
In some old dusty cellar, there is at least one
bottle of dandelion wine, still warm from the sun.
Though his pen has stopped moving, on clear nights I hear
an invisible carnival, whose bells sting my ear.Where has he gone?
To Venus? Where the roar of the rain deafens the dawn?
Or is he flying a rocket to meet Mister Poe
Collecting stardust in his spacesuit wherever he goes?

I think he is on Mars.

Where else would he go?
He sits beneath a crystal tower
telling a new story every hour.
The Martians record his tales on fine silver sheets
To throb out of the sky
like the stars own heartbeats.Wherever he is, and whatever he’s doing
you can be sure it’s magnificent
because everywhere he is going
he will surely go dressed
in the Wonderful Ice Cream Suit
which glows softly
like a pale Venusian fruit.

The Brilliant Mister Bradbury has left us, but he is not gone.
The universe will forever echo his song.