In Machine Man, engineer Dr. Charles Neumann (get it? new-man. lol) crushes his leg in a gruesome workplace accident. He gets the idea to improve upon the leg’s biological design while building his prosthetic. The only problem? that other “fleshy” leg he has left is holding him back. So begins Charles’ obsession with bodily improvement through science, engineering and amputation.
Just like in Barry’s previous excellent books Jennifer Government and Company, he creates a shallow yet philosophical world where large corporate bosses aren’t referred to by real names, only titles, and corporations exist outside the boundaries of law. The story is absurd at one turn and frighteningly possible in another. If Charles works on his prosthetic leg at work, who owns it, Charles or the company?
There’s also amputee love, bionic security guards and tiny dogs dressed in human clothes. It would be impossible for me to NOT like this book. The pacing is fast and the ending is satisfying. Barry wrote the script 1 page a day, posting each page on his website for his rabid followers to discuss and dissect. They helped him with everything from technical details to story line. Kind of like commentators helping bloggers write…good. Be sure to check out Machine Man’s book trailer below. Most highlighted quote from Kindle users:
“It was pointless to ponder who I was because I was whichever combination of chemicals happened to be sloshing around at that time. So I decided not to search for a true self. I decided to choose who I wanted to be.”
Movie note: Darren Aronofsky, one of this generation’s greatest directors and hipster clothing fashonista is attached to direct while Mark Heyman (Black Swan) is adapting the screenplay. I haven’t seen any news lately, and Aronofsky keeps himself pretty busy, so I’m not sure where everything’s at right now.
The orphan, the freakshow, the tugboat, the narrator; this is Lionel Essrog. Through his mind, riddled with tourettic symptoms, we view his own private Marlowe detective story. Lionel, along with 3 other orphans from St. Vincent’s Home for Boys, is mentored and employed by Frank Minna, a small time mobster that runs a car service/detective agency. The 4 boy’s entire world view is filtered through Frank’s observations and teachings. When Frank is killed, it falls to ”the Freakshow” to solve his murder.
Frank used to say“wheels within wheels” to sneer at the boys’ notions of coincidence or conspiracy. Motherless Brooklyn is full of wheels within wheels. Why is the Giant chasing Lionel? Where did Frank’s wife go? How are the Buddhists connected? What does this have to do with sea urchins? Can Lionel get thru an interrogation without screaming “Stickmebailey!!”?
Lethem has been praised for blending literary fiction with genre fiction. I think, in Motherless Brooklyn, he’s created an incredible book. It’s incredible because I generally hate any literary fiction set in New York. God help me if it’s literary fiction about a writer living in New York. Oh, you could have gotten the pretty girl but you screwed up? :-( die in a fire.
Where was I? Oh right, this wasn’t anything like that. It was a mesmerizing look into the life of someone suffering from Tourettes, and a killer mystery to boot.
Most highlighted quote from Kindle users: And he was too moronic to be properly self-loathing—so it was my duty to loathe him instead.
If you like Michael Chabon, but wish he wrote more like Raymond Chandler.
Movie note: Edward Norton has optioned the film and plans to adapt, star in and direct. This is good news. Norton plays some of the best ‘crazy’ in Hollywood.
Charlie Hardie is a drunk, overweight, damaged, professional house sitter that just happens to stumble into a wild conspiracy laden plot to kill action movie star Lane Madden. Directing this attempted assassination is ultimate bad girl Boobs McGee. Actually she goes by Mann, but seriously, she’s topless for the first ⅓ of the book. The only person Charlie can trust is Deke the FBI guy that keeps Charlie’s family in hiding and knows the dark secret that nearly destroyed him. Non-stop action, fast paced, explosive; all the superlatives that usually go along with a blockbuster action movie can also be used to describe Fun and Gamesby Duane Swiercynski. Unfortunately, it also shares an abundance of underdeveloped characters and plot holes. I like conspiracy theories and fast paced action so this was actually a pleasant read. I probably won’t remember it tomorrow, but it was better than watching a Michael Bay movie. And, you know, there’s a topless assassin. Fun and Games is the first of 3 books featuring Charlie Hardie. I was intrigued enough that I’ll probably check out the second book Hell and Gone. Let’s hope it’s better than most Hollywood sequels. Most highlighted quote from Kindle users: The world is divided into three classes of people: a very small group that makes things happen a somewhat larger group that watches things happen and the great multitude which never knows what happened. —Nicholas Murray Butler
If you like action movies, books about actors, and quotes from action movies, you’ll probably enjoy this.
Under Wizard in the Yellow Pages, you’ll only find one result:
Harry Dresden - WizardLost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, Parties or Other Entertainment.
As the only openly practicing wizard in the country, you’d think Harry would be rich and famous. You’d be wrong. Harry’s broke, down on his luck, mobsters, monsters and other miscellanious beings after him.
Set in gritty modern day Chicago, Storm Front is the first in the popular Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. It’s hardboiled crime fiction down to it’s core. From his duster jacket to his habit of pissing everybody off, including his friends, Harry could easily fall into a noir cliche. However, instead of using noir as a crutch, Butcher uses it as a framework to craft a complex and original character. Oh, and then there’s magic. Wizards, faeries, vampires, demons, they’re all there, just under the surface of everyday living. My favorite is Bob the skull. He’s Harry’s lab assistant, and kind of a party animal.
This book was a great introduction into Harry’s world. I look forward to catching up with the series. The mystery itself, ok, it wasn’t too hard to guess the killer. But the ending was climactic and action packed. If you got into the Sookie Stackhouse novels by way of True Blood and want to step up to a more complex and accomplished series, you should give this one a try.
Most highlighted quote by Kindle users:“Paranoid? Probably. But just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that there isn’t an invisible demon about to eat your face.”
If you like Charlene Harris, but wished she wrote more like Raymond Chandler and less like Nora Roberts.