Month: November 2014

Book review: Setting Free the Bears

Setting Free the BearsSetting Free the Bears by John Irving
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I first read this book when I was about 14. It seemed amazing back then, as it was an excursion into history and kinda-sorta sex and the road and motorcycles and that whole enthusiastic, Dickens-hipster thing. Yeah, daddy-o.

The problem about reading it with an older eye is that it hasn’t aged particularly well. The text is clunky and overcomplex, the characters pretty one-dimensional – Gallen is basically a big-hipped R. Crumb figure with less intrigue – and the whole atmosphere is a little too keep-on-truckin’ to be read without cringing. (more…)

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Book review: Blood’s A Rover

Blood's A RoverBlood’s A Rover by James Ellroy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, JFK, MLK and RFK were all dead by the time this book began, so I was wondering where it would go. Who else could be offed? Thankfully, foreign casino insurgency and a gem heist gone to shit allow Ellroy the chance to work some of his favourite characters (requisite dirty cops, Sal Mineo and Sonny Liston, mysterious double agents, the Mob) into something which isn’t quite as weighed down by history as the preceding books in the trilogy.

The gem heist – and where the gems lead – provides a neat small-scale tableau to provide a break from the Nixon and Hoover machinations. As with the search for rogue drug dealer Durfee in a previous volume, the smaller crime has echoes in the larger political sphere. This time around though, it seems more – human. (more…)