So my attention span these days is virtually nil. I've actually made some good progress on my War and Peace journey, which I need to report on soon. But otherwise, it's been a pretty dismal month or so when it comes to reading. I've started many books and haven't been either capable or interested enough in finishing them. The ones I actually got through, I wrote about here, but for many others, I never made it to the last page. Like:
- The one from the other : a Bernie Gunther novel by Philip Kerr - now, I'm a big fan Kerr in general and his Berlin Noir trilogy in specific, but I've taken this book out 2 times and renewed it 2 times and started it 2 times and just haven't been able to focus on it. Perhaps some day again soon.
- Hammerhead Ranch Motel by Tim Dorsey - a thriller in the "crazy Florida" style of Hiassen, it was just too far over the top for me to stay interested in.
- The looming tower : Al-Qaeda and the road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright - a sad story about religious nuts (sorry for the oxymoron). It's just not a story I'm all that interested in.
- Moving the chains : Tom Brady and the pursuit of everything by Charles P. Pierce - I'm a huge Patriots fan and season ticket holder, but even I found the fawning idolatry of the book too much to take.
- Killing the Buddha : a heretic's Bible by Peter Manseau & Jeff Sharlet - I loved the start of this book, esp. the story at the start of the book:
Late morning, just before lunch, one of Lin Chi's monks comes up to him half-crazed, out of his mind with ecstasy, babbling about Buddha. Says he's seen him. Says he was just walking down the road when suddenly: Buddahamind. Enlightenment. Nirvana. The big payoff. The monk can't stop talking about it. Lin Chi strikes a match, lights his pipe, takes a long drag. Leaves the monk hanging, wiating for his reward. Instead, Lin Chi blows a cloud of smoke, reaches ou and smacks him.
"You meet the Buddha on the road," Lin Chi says, "kill him."
The book is split into two interwoven parts. In one part, the co-authors invite other authors to write a short bit on each of the scriptures of the Old Testament. They were pretty free to choose the form they wanted to use, from autobiographical to fiction. And in the other part, the authors went on a wild quest to expose the truly bizarre and crazy ways Faith is displayed. I liked the travelogue, didn't like the essays. And even the travelogues got tiring, as it just isn't that hard to find bizarre aspects of Religion.
- Unweaving the rainbow : science, delusion, and the appetite for wonder by Richard Dawkins - a true hero of mine today, with his unwavering, outspoken, and intelligent support of Reason over Faith, but I just couldn't stick with this book. Here he rips apart those that either show a remarkable lack of imagination when it comes to science or, even worse, put down those that do. Once again, a cataloging of stupidity wore me down before I could finish it.
- Hell's gate by David Weber & Linda Evans - I had a vague craving for an epic fantasy novel, especially after reading Greywolf's review of Lord Foul's Bane, the first of the Thomas Convenant books, and ordering it from the library, so I went prowling through the sci-fi/fantasy New book shelf. I saw the first two of this series, so I picked up the first one. I enjoyed the few Honor Harrington books by Weber that I've read, even if they are a little "by the books" space opera, so I had some hopes. But I couldn't do it. All of the characters were archetypes - the honorable military leader, the incredibly capable sergeant, the bumbling and spiteful middle commander, the pulse pounding in love married explorers, etc. And a major problem for me in fantasy books, given my current lassitude, is that the first book is usually rampant with exposition, describing the world and its citizenry. And this one had it in spades, especially as it posits two distinct races meeting each other via a time portal, so it goes on and on for both of them. I gave up.
I did finally get Lord Foul's Bane by Stephen Donaldson, but I have to admit, I'm not sure I'm going to make it through. I'm about half way and still bored to tears. Plenty of long exposition and mystical mumbo jumbo that just isn't drawing me in. Greywolf promises better things to come, so perhaps I'll soldier on. Jeez, I should try to finish one of these books!