Search This Site
Facebook
Follow Stuff I Like on Twitter
My Book Reading

Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly  (completed)

Lou Reed: A Life by Anthony DeCurtis

   (in progress)

Killing Floor by Lee Child   (completed)

   (1997, Reacher's first appearance)

Sticky Fingers - The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine by Joe Hagan

(done)

The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone (Dey St. Books, just completed, full review just published)


Double Agent Celery: MI5's Crooked Hero by Carolinda Witt (pen-and-sword books)

The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum (1980, the book that started the franchise, just completerd)

The Take by Christopher Reich (Mulholland Books)


Podcast Favorites

Kara Swisher's Recode Decode this week is an interesting conversation with Tina Brown. Using the publication of her new Vanity Fair Diaries as a starting point, they examine Brown's publishing career, notably her wonderful runs with Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. Then they dive into the internet age, how it's changing the publishing world, Brown's start-up of The Daily Beast, followed by venting about Facebook today. Swisher puts together the best intervierw/talk with Brown I've heard since her book was published. Brown was consistently creating some of the best magazines in the world, at a time when that mattered.

Rich Roll's podcast is one I've discovered recently, and I'm working to catch up. Here are two don't-miss episodes:

http://www.richroll.com/podcast/bryan-fogel/

http://www.richroll.com/podcast/lance-armstrong/

Fogel is the star of, the producer of, the man behind Icarus. If you've not watched this documentary, exclusively streaming on Netflix, get to it! Of all the interviews I've read and heard with Fogel, Roll brings out the most interesting perspective. It's a fabulous listening experience.

 

Lance Armstrong needs no introduction. I don't care whether you admire or dislike him, his wealth of experience and new perspective on many matters is worth listening to. Me, I think he's one of the finest athletes ever.

Entries in #leechild (3)

Saturday
Dec022017

Quick Takes on Recent Reads

There's not a hell of a lot to add to the body of work praising Lee Child and his Jack Reacher. If you've read one of the two dozen thrillers penned by Child, all featuring Reacher, you're already in. Somebody in the world may have read one, then no others, but I've not met that individual. The Midnight Line, Reacher's current adventure, takes place fairly soon after his discharge from the army. A chance encounter with a West Point class ring in a pawn shop kicks off a trail and journey of unprecedented danger, mystery and reflection. Not to mention action. Reacher never disappoints.

Lee Child likes to tell interviewers how he doesn't outline new writing projects, but simply begins with a blank screen and lets Reacher tell his own storyl I'm in awe, if that's truly how he does it. An odd little dimension to Child's writing I appreciate is how Jack Reacher takes the measure of people he's meeting, and in many cases is about to fight. The descriptions of body types, fat deposits, and musculature are always engaging, humorous, and reflect the humor and talent  embodied in Lee Child.

The Midnight Line is as good as any Reacher novel by Child. Only the reader can decide which is their favorite, but as a thriller with a deep mystery and unsurpassed plotting and characterization, Child is as good as anyone writing today.

#leechild, #jackreacher, #themnidnightline, @leechildreacher, @DelacortePress

Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine by Joe Hagan is an immense, deep, full-throated blast of the unimaginable (today) role and value Rolling Stone magazine played for generations. Much of the publicity surrounding the book has been generated by Wenner's backing down from his endorsement of Hagan's work, after fully cooperating through the writing and research. I'm less interested in Jann Wenner's private life than I am in this seminal periodical, one I read from the very beginning, continuong for decades. For a long time, little in the musical periodical world was as meaningful as what the writers in Stone had to say on any topic.

Hagan conducted hundreds of interviews, put in years of research with full access to the almost-hoarder files of Wenner, creating a big book that's immense, important and compelling, if no exhausting to the reader. Find some of author Hagan's podcast interviews; he's an interesting speaker as well as a fine writer. For a couple of generations of rock'n'roll people, the  harnessing of all aspects of underground culture made each issue of Rolling Stone important to be devoured, word by word. Nothing was like it before, and in the fragmented world of today, it's easy to assume nothing with the cultural value of Rolling Stone will ever exist again.

#stickyfingers, @joehagansays, @AAKnopf, #joehagan

I'd never read Robert Ludlum's original Jason Bourne novel, The Bourne Identity, published in 1980. The book franchise lives on with several ghost writers, the movie series chugs along with Matt Damon featured in the last episode, yet the book that began all this languisehes on used-bookstore shelves, or in the collections of people like myself.

The Bourne Identity is a very good adventure spy thriller. In it's time, I can see how the concept of this mysterious trained killer suddenly finding himself recovering from injuries he has no memory of suffering to be compelling. In fact, Jason Bourne doesn't remember a damn thing about his life, even wondering what his real name may be. He certainly has questions about why so many different people and organizations are hunting him.

Ludlum is effective building the storyline and plot, pushed along by sudden flashes of memory in the mind of Bourne. His actions and relationships are fluid due to all these circumstances, but as he comes to realize he's found someone he can trust, his journey and questions take on more substance.

Bourne Identity is exciting. The action is full-on and non-stop. There's a hell of a lot of exclamation points! Nearly 40 years later, it holds up pretty well.

#robertludlum #jasonbourne

Sunday
Nov052017

Killing Floor - Lee Child (first Reacher novel)

Celebrating the publication of Lee Child’s new novel The Midnight Line, featuring Jack Reacher, (Nov. 7), I thought it would be fun to read his first Reacher work, Killing Floor, and compare it to his writing about Reacher 22 books later. 

Last month I found this beautiful condition hardcover of Killing Floor at a charity sale and quickly scooped it up. At the time I wasn’t aware it was Child’s first Reacher novel, only that I didn’t own it and hadn’t read it. Last week in a BBC interview, Child revealed the title of his upcoming 2018 Reacher novel, Yesterday, and revealed something of his writing and plotting style. He works hard on the opening sentence of each book, and writes and rewrites and polishes the initial paragraph. When Child is happy with the first paragraph, he begins what he terms a “free-wheeling descent into the plot.” He claims to have little or no idea where the story is heading. I’d call this a brave and confident writing style. 

Killing Floor is top-notch. If you’ve read anything by Lee Child you know he combines sudden, often unexpected action scenes with mysteries and exciting plots. Elements of what has made Reacher popular resonate throughout Killing Floor. He falls into a quick yet plausible relationship with a woman involved in the situation (I was going to say “the case” but everything Reacher becomes involved with is unlike a traditional police case). That happens right away in Killing Floor, with officer Roscoe. Reacher ends up remaining somewhere he had no plans to spend appreciable time in - yes. A small town in Georgia he almost accidentally got off the bus in. It was a whim. 

Reacher carries no luggage. In this first adventure he doesn’t immediately throw his old clothing away when he buys some new things, but soon enough he does. I missed mention of his toothbrush, but I’ll assume he carried one. 

The presence of Reacher’s brother Joe changes the tone of some of Killing Floor. I won’t worry about spoiling anyone’s reading enjoyment by revealing Joe is dead by the time Reacher finds out about his involvement, but revenge proves to be good fuel for Jack Reacher.

Reacher is recently discharged from the Army in this first novel, on his initial roam around the country. He doesn’t seem disillusioned about anything - it’s more that he’s curious about the country and states and wants to roam and be free, even if he’s not certain why.

On some level I found Child’s writing in Killing Floor to be as good as anything I’ve read by him (I probably own half or more of the Reacher novels and have read all I have). His tone and pace seem a bit more relaxed, wordier than later books in the series are. Against this backdrop, Reacher’s violence takes on a more urgent and surprising tone. He’s completely at peace with ending someone’s life when they deserve it, and a couple of times goes about it with more planning and cold-blooded nerve than I expected from him. In the context of both the story and his now well-developed character, it makes sense. A couple of times I found myself take aback either by Reacher’s sudden, take-no-prisoners actions, or his infallible instincts.

I enjoyed the hell out of Killing Floor. Child’s plot and storyline are complex enough that I was guessing about events at times, so I was on my toes. That challenge is enjoyable. Characters are fully developed, and a couple of major plot turns were unexpected and certainly changed how I was thinking of events and where the action was headed. The motion picture in my brain was rolling every time I opened the book - that’s what I’m looking for in a great adventure novel. I wonder if Child wrote this book in the same manner he says he is now, with the first paragraph leading to the books writing themselves.  It seems to me that would be difficult with a first novel featuring such a strong character.

Killing Floor is terrific and ranks with Lee Child’s best Reacher work.

@LeeChildReacher, #killingfloor, #leechild

 

 

Tuesday
May302017

Matchup with Lee Child

Hell yes! I've been waiting for Matchup, edited by the great Lee Child. @LeeChildReacher, @SimonSchuster, @amandalanger, #leechild#matchup