Tag: Meh

Apr 14 2021

Genghis Khan by Leo de Hartog

I’m glad that Leo de Hartog did not title this biography A Life of Genghis Khan because there is astonishingly little life between its covers. I would have thought the biography of someone who rose from a tribal noble to rule the largest land empire this world has ever known would be positively gripping, but …

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Mar 21 2021

Die Olympiasiegerin by Herbert Achternbusch

There’s scene in “Before Sunrise” where the young couple encounters two Austrian guys who tell the visitors about a play they are putting on, an eye-rolling bit of Continental pretension. Man with tie: This is a play we’re both in, and we would like to invite you. Céline: You’re actors? Man with tie: No, not …

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Jun 27 2020

Die Schule der Nackten by Ernst Augustin

You have better things to do with your time than read this book, or at least the latter two-thirds of it. The first-person narrator, Alexander, is interesting, and a bit odd in an interesting way. He’s a historian of sorts, unattached to any academic institute, specializing in the ancient Near East: Chaldean studies, Aramaic studies, …

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Mar 27 2020

Salz im Blut by Andreas Neumeister

Salz im Blut

In the early 2000s, I am led to understand, the editors of the Süddeutsche Zeitung found that the paper had more printing capacity than was being used to put out the daily news. One way to set that capacity to productive use was with a foray into book publishing. The newspaper’s staff put together a …

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Dec 24 2019

The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth #3) by N.K. Jemisin

I just don’t get it. This isn’t a terrible book. But it’s not a very good one either, and I am utterly mystified by all the acclaim it’s been getting. Never mind my hostility to the introduction of magic into what was a solidly sci-fi series till partway through book two. Never mind my brain’s …

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Dec 03 2019

1968: The Year That Rocked the World by Mark Kurlansky

1968 by Mark Kurlansky

Ok, boomer.

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Jul 21 2019

The Night Manager by John Le Carré

The Night Manager by John Le Carré

Not quite 100 pages in on this one, I pronounced the Eight Deadly Words. Sorry, eponymous Jonathan. Even sorrier, Sophie, who lived and died some years before the main action, and who existed to give Jonathan regrets. And perhaps to show that the corrupt Egyptian brothers might be a darker shade of grey than the …

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Jun 15 2019

A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge

A Deepness in the Sky is about as close to opposite of Just One Damned Thing After Another as it’s possible to be and still have both books inhabit the same genre. Deepness is big (774 pages in the mass market paperback edition that I have), full of carefully worked out ideas about space and …

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Feb 10 2019

The Labyrinth Index by Charles Stross

I suppose The Labyrinth Index marks the time in the Laundryverse when horror overtakes humor, and the combining apocalypses leave the characters nothing to do but get on with it in the face of diminishing hope for the human race, but honestly it makes the book a bit of a slog. The Laundry is, or …

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Feb 04 2019

The Tower of the Swallow by Andrzej Sapkowski

The Tower of the Swallow is what happens when an author wrestles with the middle-book problem, and loses. Nothing happens, or rather, a great deal happens but none of it matters a dickie-bird until the last 30 pages or so (out of 400), at which time Ciri, the child of destiny, definitively escapes the several …

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