Saturday, July 12, 2008

What I Read This Week

As a previous commenter mentioned, I'm in New York during Thrillerfest -- and although I'm not registered, I've been to a couple of the social events, and will be at tonight's banquet.

One excellent thing about being in New York is reading time on the subway. I'd read so much more if I didn't have to drive...

David Lindsay-Abaire, Rabbit Hole. Gaslight's deep in the process of choosing next year's season, so I'm reading a lot of plays. I'd read this one back in March, but read it again to refresh my memory for a meeting next week. A husband and wife struggle to reshape their relationship after the accidental death of their four-year-old son. Beautiful and almost intolerably sad.

John Van Druten, Bell, Book and Candle. A charming play about love and witchcraft that hardly feels dated at all. They made it into an equally charming movie, with Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak, and I could not help hearing Jimmy Stewart's voice in my head as I read it.

Sarah Ruhl, The Clean House. A play about love, humor and death; Mathilde is a Brazilian immigrant hired to clean house for Lane and Charles, two doctors. Mathilde doesn't like to clean house; Lane's sister Virginia volunteers to do it for her, in secret. A play about the ways people connect, and how love and humor kill us and save us.

John Twelve Hawks, The Traveler. I skipped this book when it first came out, put off by the absurd degree of hype and the contrived mystery about the author's identity (which has still not been revealed). But it's a great paranoid conspiracy thriller, about the last members of a race who can travel between dimensions and the Vast Machine trying to control them -- and us.

Lawrence Block, Tanner's Twelve Swingers. Evan Tanner is an Army veteran who's lost the ability to sleep, and fills that time with learning new languages and affiliating himself with bizarre revolutionary groups. This time around, his membership in the Latvian Army-in-Exile sends him to Communist Latvia, to smuggle a comrade's sweetheart across the Iron Curtain. He winds up bringing out the entire Latvian women's gymnastics team, a Yugoslav dissident, a mysterious Chinese document, and the six-year-old heir to the throne of Lithuania.

Mario Acevedo, The Nymphos of Rocky Flats. Army Sergeant Felix Gomez left Iraq as a vampire. Now he's a private detective, and an old friend asks him to investigate an outbreak of nymphomania at a top-secret nuclear research facility. Great, goofy fun.

Lawrence Block, The Scoreless Thai. I'm reading a lot of Lawrence Block this week, for an article I'm writing. This is another Tanner novel; this time, he's in Thailand to rescue a lady friend who's been kidnapped by Laotian bandits. His guide is a young Siamese man obsessed with the need for female companionship (hence the title). Written in 1968, this is unapologetic Y-chromosome fantasy fiction, and highly entertaining.


Anonymous said...

I love the movie version of "Bell, Book And Candle," and as great as Jimmy Stewart is in that film --- I think the supporting characters: Jack Lemmon, Ernie Kovacs and Elsa Lanchester steal the movie. Hope yo had fun at the Banquet.
Richard B.

Laura said...

Kim Novak was terrific in the film, and one just can't go wrong with Elsa Lanchester.

I just read on imdb that there's a new version in production--Will the madness never end!?