Things have been pretty busy the past month or so, but I have managed to find time to crack open a couple of new books.
The first one was The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick. This is not the first alternate history book I have read, so it felt just a little cliche. Then I remembered that this was one of the first of that sub-genre, and in that context is was BRILLIANT! Basically, America lost WWII and was divvied up between the Germans (east of the Mississippi) and the Japanese (west of the Rocky Mountains), with a no-man;s-land in between. The stories are told from the point of view of several characters, Japanese, German, and American.
Next — and one I am still working on — is the ecological thriller The Swarm by Frank Schatzing. The overall plot is nothing new — the abused Earth begins fighting back against her tormentors — but the specifics of the story are fresh and engaging, and the characters are sympathetic without being preachy.
Finally, the one I just finished, and one which caught me by surprise: The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Normally I am aware of when interesting books are published, but I didn’t hear about this one until after the fact. McCarthy has (finally) published a post-apocalyptic novel. He has written several apocalyptic novels — Blood Meridian being the most obvious — and now he has written the book he was meant to write. The entire novel follows an un-named father and son as they travel west from the mountains to the coast of southern California in an America gone to nuclear winter where nothing is left alive but human beings. Gangs of cannibals roam the remains of the world and a can of peaches is the most magnificent meal to be hoped for.
There is nothing dignified or romantic about the end of the world here — everything is ash and rain and snow, and a simple thing like a shopping cart losing its wheel can be a life-or-death experience.
I read The Road too quickly the first time — punctuated by moments of having to put it down and let my emotions settle — and I will probably pick it up again around the holidays.
Thomas Harris has a new book coming out in three weeks: Hannibal Rising, the story of how Hannibal Lecter became one of the greatest literary monsters of the twentieth century. Saying I am looking forward to this one is an understatement.
That’s all for now. I want to get in a solid hour of reading before I go to bed. I suggest you do the same.