Monday, October 31, 2005

Dexter Recommends

I asked my friend Bill to recommend some books to me as he is particularly well read and has made some winning suggestions in the past. A bit about Bill. An erstwhile bon vivant, USA veteran, bibliophile and barfly, he left Connecticut several years ago for the big city and has lived there in Iowa ever since.
Bill and I were stationed at Fort Devens together for a short time although we didn't know each other then. He was doing some sort of spook training for Army linguists and I was a USAF weather man at Moore Army Airfield. After he military in 1990 we met at the Uconn Veteran's Center where he would study and I would play Kings Bounty. Well enough about the past here are Dexter's off the cuff suggestions:
1) Kafka on the Shore (2005) by Haruki Murakami - Everything by him is good. Norwegian Wood is a good starting point coming of age story, but his better books are more surreal (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Wild Sheep Chase and its sequel Dance, Dance, Dance.) I just finished his South of the Border, West of the Sun on Sunday.
2) Paul Christopher series of spy novels by Charles McCarry. The Miernik Dossier (1971), The Tears of Autumn (1974), The Secret Lovers (1977), The Last Supper (1983), Second Sight (1991) Shelly's Heart (1995) Old Boys (2004) The first two have been reprinted spy novels since Eric Ambler and Le Carre Smiley novels. (Although Le Carre has gotten pretty good lately see Absolute Friends).
3) James Crumley from Last Good Kiss through most recent The Right Madness.
4) Robert K. Morgan recent SF noir series starting with Altered Carbon there are 2 more I have not read yet but will...also Joe Haldeman multi Hugo award winning author for Forever War (1976) Forever Peace (1998) as well as the novella The Hemingway Hoax.
5) Last Samurai by Helen Dewitt - not what you think it is. Better.
6) Pat Barker's WWI trilogy- Regeneration, Eye in the Door, Ghost Road.
7) The Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett, starting with The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantistick (might have switched them around).
8) Elmore Leonard (everything but he is in top of his game right now so work backwards from The Hot Kid, Mr. Paradise, Pagan Babies) FYI the characters Ordell and Louis from Jackie Brown (Rum Punch) show up in early novel The Switch.
9) John D. Macdonald's Travis McGee series...starting with Deep Blue Goodbye and ending with Lonely Silver Rain, series gets better as it goes along.
10) Tender is the Night- only because I finally read it and think it is a deeper book than Gatsby if not as elegant.
11) Mason & Dixon- Thomas Pynchon- modern day Ulysses.
The ones in bold are the strongest I feel or good starting points. I am sure omissions, corrections, clarifications will occur to me as soon as I hit the send button. This is mostly off the top of my read plus a little googling for reminders of titles. I am already thinking of books that are quickly readable to pass the time like all of Tim Dorsey's series starting with Florida Roadkill, Jasper Fordes Thursday Next series, Frank Miller's Sin City comic books, Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins books, etc etc,,,.
Shit I forgot short stories..... Out of the Woods, Kentucky Straight by Chris Offutt , Pastoralia by George Saunders, Dear Mr. President by Gabe Hudson
As for non-fiction that is whole 'nother ball of wax.... But if you have not read Jarhead by Tony Swofford so before seeing the film. He is graduate of writer's workshop here in town.

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