Today was a day for books. But first, my review of the book I just completed.
The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester ended up being a pretty good read. I thought that towards the end, he was getting a bit repetitive, but on the whole it was a fascinating read. The author also has a tendancy to try to create suspense, which I don't care too much for (it's the Michael Crichton syndrome)...
... Mary looked at the specimen trays with a lazy eye. She's been doing this for the pat 5 hours and finds it endlessly boring. None of the cultures have any signs of growth and so it wasn't surprising that she let her eyes droop a little.
It was a regrettable lapse in judgment.
Michael was outside looking up at the stars...
AA! I hate this. It's a deliberate forced suspension that I don't like. It makes me feel like the writer is trying *really* hard to make me feel suspense and it just doesn't happen. Instead, I am annoyed. That happened a few times in this book, but not as bad as Crichton.
I think the repetition is what annoyed me the most about the novel.
The author kept repeating information about how shocked Professor Murray was on discovering Dr. Minor's situation... or how long their relationship has been. I found myself skipping a paragraph here or there in the last section of the book. It gave me flashbacks of King's "The Green Mile", the last book that I read that was extremely repetitious (and understandably so, since it was a serial novel and required repetition).
Otherwise, it was an interesting story. The most shocking part of it was when Dr. Minor decided to cut off his penis. It seemed like a happy and sad event: the cause of so much of Dr. Minor's anguish was removed, and yet with it went a great deal of pity from the rest of society. I felt both sad and frightened by Dr. Minor. He was, in my opinion, a bright mind gone bad, and those situations always make me sad. Like Heavenly Creatures. Intelligent, creative individuals that go wayward. I'm glad that Dr. Minor contributed to our society in his own way, although it's sad to think what kinds of contributions he could have given the world had he not gone mad. On the other hand, his incarceration allowed him to work on the OED. It's a tough call.
The story of Dr. Minor and Professor Murray is an interesting one, a definite page-turner and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a new book. It's an interesting corner of history.
One book experience down.
Earlier in the week, I suggested to Mike that we should go to the Strand, a huge used bookstore in New York. This was to be a "Mike day" since I spent yesterday with my friends and I will be spending tomorrow with my friends too. So, today was a Mike day. We went to the Strand and I started combing the books, looking for some good finds. I actually found quite a number. In the dead-bargain bin outfront, I found copies of Connect and Crash for 50 cents and Exegesis by Astro Teller. Wow. I quickly bought those up. When I went inside, I was eager to find a new book to read since I have finished The Professor and the Madman. Mike and I have seen commercials for Elizabeth and it looked like a really interesting movie, and earlier in the week, Mike has been talking to me about the history of Elizabeth's time. Wow, it was fascinating! So, I decided to hunt around for some good history books, especially since their Science Fiction section was pretty pathetic. Jackpot! I found what appears to be an excellent book on Elizabeth the First. So, I grabbed it and curled up in a corner, trying to blot out the crowds all around me as I read. Mike was off looking at other sections of the Strand. I became quickly engrossed in the book and elected to shell out the $7.00 for it. All-in-all, I ended up purchasing what would amount to about $80 in books or more for about $25. Not a bad deal.
Afterwards, we went to Forbidden Planet where we drooled over the anime stuff for a little while. We then decided to depart for Roberto's (this was definitely a Mike day) where we had a delightful meal. We always enjoy going to Roberto's. It's the place to go for our celebrations, just the two of us (bringing the entire family tends to be not as pleasant). I had their clams on a half shell which were delicious. Perhaps I should start eating more seafood. What this has to do with books? Nothing, except that when I curl up in bed tonight, I will be happily reading my new Elizabeth book. Who knew history could be so much fun?
On a side note...
Bob Kane (the creator of Bruce Wayne and Batman fame) died on November 3rd. They didn't mention this in the news until November 5th. It's sad that the creator of a great American icon isn't recognized until 2 days after his death.