These are reviews originally posted to Amazon as customer reviews. They're intended for entertainment and informational purposes only. (Apologies for any typos, bad grammar, or offensive language.) This isn't sponsored by Amazon or represent them in any way, although they do have a very nice site and I recommend checking it out for your next book purchase. Feel free to comment on the books if you've read them or tell me how much my reviews suck or whatever.
That is all.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Quick Hits 2

These are a couple more items I've read recently that didn't make much of an impression on me and so I'm just going to toss off a couple one-paragraph reviews. For the obligatory plot summary, look them up on your favorite bookseller's website.

"The Spy Who Came in From the Cold" by John le Carre: I'm not sure why this was on my list for the Greatest Novels of the 20th Century. When compared to the other books I've read on the list this is a real lightweight. More to the point its tale of Cold War spy games seems pretty dated by modern standards. Without Bond-style gadgets or Bourne-style action it's really a lot of talking. The only relevant message is that spy agencies are willing to sacrifice people to achieve their goals. That's fine, but I'd rather just watch "Bourne Identity" again on DVD.

"A Death in the Family" by James Agee: To me this seemed like a long short story or small novella crammed with minute details and largely pointless flashbacks to give it a novel's heft. You could make the case that Agee accurately replicates the rythms of real life in his long, drawn-out conversations and minute details of character interactions, but in doing so he also replicates the tediousness of real life. More to the point I didn't see where Agee brings anything new to the table on the subjects of grief or loss. Maybe it was more revolutionary when it won the Pulitzer back in 1953, but to this modern reader it seemed quaint and dull.

That is all.

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