Nov 1, 2011

George's Picks for December

At Stan's direction, I am providing three very different choices, two of which I have read. These two are the first of a series where one does not need to read on, but if you get the bug and have the time you can follow the characters further.

Rabbit Run by John Updike.

John Updike has won two Pulitzer Prize awards, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Award, etc... Beginning in 1960 he released a series of four books centering on the very misoginistic Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom titled "Rabbit Run". The book runs 260 pages. The Amazon write up reads:

Harry Angstrom was a star basketball player in high school and that was the best time of his life. Now in his mid-20s, his work is unfulfilling, his marriage is moribund, and he tries to find happiness with another woman. But happiness is more elusive than a medal, and Harry must continue to run--from his wife, his life, and from himself, until he reaches the end of the road and has to turn back....

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

The second book was published in the 1912 by a then unknown writer who went on to produce 91 books. His main character is Captain Jack Carter of Virginia, a survivor of the Civil War. The book, a manuscript handed off to the author upon Captain Carter's death, talks of adventures which took place after the war. This is the first book of an eleven part series titled "A Princess of Mars" is by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The movie "John Carter of Mars" opens in 2012. The book is an easy 160 pages. The Amazon review is as follows:

Although Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950) is justifiably famous as the creator of Tarzan of the Apes, that uprooted Englishman was not his only popular hero. Burroughs's first sale (in 1912) was A Princess of Mars, opening the floodgates to one of the must successful--and prolific--literary careers in history. This is a wonderful scientific romance that perhaps can be best described as early science fiction melded with an epic dose of romantic adventure. A Princess of Mars is the first adventure of John Carter, a Civil War veteran who unexpectedly find himself transplanted to the planet Mars. Yet this red planet is far more than a dusty, barren place; it's a fantasy world populated with giant green barbarians, beautiful maidens in distress, and weird flora and monstrous fauna the likes of which could only exist in the author's boundless imagination. Sheer escapism of the tallest order, the Martian novels are perfect entertainment for those who find Tarzan's fantastic adventures aren't, well, fantastic enough. Although this novel can stand alone, there are a total of 11 volumes in this classic series of otherworldly, swashbuckling adventure. --Stanley Wiater

Just Kids by Patti Smith.

The third book I have not read. During a recent trip to New York a friend and I visited the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side. This book was in their store and my friend said it was a must read, then promptly bought it and handed it over. The book is "Just Kids" by Patti Smith, and it comes in at 288 pages. I will let the write up speak for itself:

It was the summer Coltrane died, the summer of love and riots, and the summer when a chance encounter in Brooklyn led two young people on a path of art, devotion, and initiation.

Patti Smith would evolve as a poet and performer, and Robert Mapplethorpe would direct his highly provocative style toward photography. Bound in innocence and enthusiasm, they traversed the city from Coney Island to Forty-second Street, and eventually to the celebrated round table of Max's Kansas City, where the Andy Warhol contingent held court. In 1969, the pair set up camp at the Hotel Chelsea and soon entered a community of the famous and infamous—the influential artists of the day and the colorful fringe. It was a time of heightened awareness, when the worlds of poetry, rock and roll, art, and sexual politics were colliding and exploding. In this milieu, two kids made a pact to take care of each other. Scrappy, romantic, committed to create, and fueled by their mutual dreams and drives, they would prod and provide for one another during the hungry years.

Just Kids begins as a love story and ends as an elegy. It serves as a salute to New York City during the late sixties and seventies and to its rich and poor, its hustlers and hellions. A true fable, it is a portrait of two young artists' ascent, a prelude to fame.

So there you go Stan, three completely different books to choose from.

See you all Tuesday.

George

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