Wednesday, June 13, 2007

On the Nightstand

Fifty Degrees Below - Kim Stanley Robinson
The second book in Robinson's global warming trilogy has a tighter focus than the first, this time focusing primarily on Frank, one of the several characters from the first book. Frank's story is a good one to focus on too, the wildly improbable love story (he meets a woman in an elevator, the elevator gets stuck, and they fall in love) is actually pretty entertaining, and his decision to embrace a rootless homelessness by building a treehouse in a park is inspired fun. The big climate event here, a brutal winter with temperatures that dip into Antarctic ranges, is, as is standard for Robinson, impeccably envisioned. I found myself a little disinterested by the spy subplot (Frank's paramour is being bugged by her husband, with Frank being tracked by the government because of his environmental work), but overall found this an engaging read - I look forward to finishing the trilogy.

The Gingerbread Girl - Stephen King (a novella that appears in this month's Esquire)
My love for Stephen King has been well-documented, and I enjoyed this story thoroughly. That being said, I did find myself wishing he had fought his instincts a bit more. The firs third of the story, which tells the story of a young woman whose infant daughter dies of crib death, and who deals with the unfathomable grief by running all the time, was gripping, believeable and deeply moving. But the last two thirds, which deal with the woman's abduction by a serial killer and attempts at escape, while excellently executed, felt tired and easy to me. It was if King started out writing a non-violent, slice-of-life story but couldn't resist taking it into the gruesome violence, thriller arena. That he is so good in that arena is comfort, sure - the scene of her initial attempts at escape had me absolutely engrossed - and yet a small part of me nags nonetheless at what "might have been."

Until Whenever

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