Friday, April 29, 2011

And yet more books

Sometimes, a trip to the library, the bookstore, or even to surf online is not required to urge me to get through what I'm reading now and speed down my list.  All I need do is sort through my own unread collection.  Here's a few finds from just last night's rummaging.
The Beat Hotel.  An examination of the time period when William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Alan Ginsberg, and Gregory Corso all shared lodgings in a hotel on Paris' Left Bank.  Of course there is plenty of sordid goings on it looks like (would you expect anything less?), but its the literary and social developments that interest me.  I want to know what shaped these very influential American writers, influential both to literature and to me personally.  To place it in perspective, this is the literary equivalent of when I found out Bono, Michael Hutchence, and Simon Le Bon all shared a house in the south of France once.  Dope.

The Difference Engine.  This seminal steampunk work by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling has been on my shelf for far too long.  It's a detective story, or so the jacket back says, taking place in 1885 when Charles Babbage invents a steam-powered Analytical Device.  The age of computers and cybernetics arrives 100 years before its time.  When I met William Gibson last September, I recall him speaking of this book and how much detailed research Bruce Sterling put into it, reading endless newspapers from the Victorian Age.  

The Ghosts of Manhattan.  "Steampunk's first superhero!"  Whenever I see a book make a claim like that, I normally steer clear, but I found this at a closing Borders where it was 40% off.  The cover art was pretty...a hot mess between pulp and steampunk, the price was right, so I figured devil-may-care.  This is apparently about a vigilante superhero named "The Ghost" who goes up against a New York mobster called "The Roman."  Judging by the poor reviews I've just seen on Amazon, I'm thinking a full-length Gray Ghost from Batman: The Animated Series might be of superior quality.  I'll let you know after I read it.

Whenever that is.

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