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New year book reviews January 14, 2010

Posted by thejinx in books.
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I’m going quickly through my current read, but since I am lamentably behind in my reviews, the last books I’ve read:

Open, Andre Agassi – I don’t tend to read nonfiction, and I had never read a biography before, let alone a memoir.  I went to a book signing by the tennis star to get a Christmas present for my mother, who’s a big tennis fan.  I read most of the first chapter as I made my way through the line and enjoyed it enough to continue.

I don’t really know what I was expecting from this book, if anything, but it ended up exceeding my expectations by a wide margin.  It’s a stark and defiantly honest book, and everything was written with clarity that stunned me; I know I couldn’t grasp the emotions of events that happened to me years ago so vividly, yet each chapter drew me in raptly, every scene displayed in such detail that it seemed it had been written the moment it occurred.  The writing is perfectly balanced; Agassi’s feelings are laid out as reactions, close enough to make you sympathize or at least understand what he’s feeling, but distant enough to leave the interpretation up to the reader.  I found myself feeling what he felt, really becoming the narrator in a way I have rarely experienced in a book.  It was depressing at times, but it was also extraordinarily beautiful.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

Live and Let Die, Ian Fleming – The second James Bond novel, this book tells the tale of the secret agent’s struggle to take down an American gangster of enormous influence in a case that runs from New York City to Jamaica.

A friend offered me numerous James Bond novels some time ago, though I only took two at the time, and don’t expect I’ll be asking or looking for any more.  While this book was far better than the first novel, Casino Royale, it was still pretty dry and not overly exciting.  The sexism of the first book was not so apparent in this one, though it was replaced by racism.  I can’t say whether it’s an appropriate depiction of attitudes in that time, but I found the way African-Americans were treated in this novel, as though they were an entirely different type of person than Caucasians, a little off-putting.  The book was notably improved over its predecessor in a number of ways; characterization was slightly stronger – though Bond is surprisingly inept at his job – tension was increased, the lead female was more substantial, and more just happened.  Still, it didn’t really hold up well on its own merit, and it didn’t leave me interested enough to find out if Fleming’s writing improved in later books.

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1. 90 - November 20, 2010

op


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