Sunday, March 13, 2011

What I Read for Celebrate E-book Week

I decided to celebrate e-book week by reading three books that emphasize one of the main reasons I love my Kindle--out-of-print (OOP)  and hard to find books.

I began the week reading Murder in the Gunroom, by H. Beam Piper (1953). Piper was a science fiction author, and this was his sole mystery. It's very redolent of the early 1950's, with its upper crust and not-quite-noir characters. Jefferson Davis Rand is the professional detective called in to assess the gun collection of a wealthy collector who accidentally shot himself while cleaning his new gun--or did he? The writing is crisp, the descriptions detailed enough to delight a reader like me who really likes descriptions. My only complaint is the slightly mysogonistic treatment of the women in the story, who are clearly just filler characters. There is an incredible amount of gun info, including lists of guns, and that is tedious to a non-NRA and non-gun fan, but it shows the author did know his stuff (at least, I guess it does and he did, as I don't know enough to judge). This one hasn't been in print in a while, although it is back in print now. I'd never have bought it, though, given my lack of interest in guns and gun collecting or macho 1950s heroes. But I enjoyed it. The mystery was obvious, but there were some twists that kept it interesting and it moved along at a solid pace.

My second read was far more enjoyable: A Prefect's Uncle by P. G. Wodehouse (1903). Of course it was enjoyable--it's Wodehouse! There's no way I would have bought this story on its own despite being a Wodehousian, because it centered heavily on cricket. And despite living briefly in England, I have no idea how cricket works. But I thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless, because of typical Wodehousians like "...we should always strive to be kind, even to the very humblest. On the off chance, you know."  Or "My natural pride is too enormous. Descended from a primordial atomic globule, you know, like Pooh Bah." Would that high schoolers talked the way these Wodehousian schoolboys do. This is early Wodehouse, but he's already at his laugh-out-loud wittiness.

And I'm finishing Patty Fairfield by Carolyn Wells (1901), the first in the series of girls' books. Patty is 14, and sent off by her father to live three months with each of four aunts and their families. Of course each aunt is very different and espouses different values (after all, Victorian children's literature had to have a moral). As the series continues, Patty gets married and WWI happens, bur in this outing she's just a pretty, young, innocent goody two shoes. Being a goody two shoes, myself, I can appreciate that. I did enjoy the portrayal of her first Aunt Isabel, vain, only interested in appearance, and how the neglect of her children because of her own disinterest sadly mirrors some parents today, more interested in pretty clothes and pretty children and not interested in education or disciplining their kids. Yes, there is a screaming five-year-old who rules the roost through her tantrums. But it's an interesting evocation of a particular time period, and yes, it shows how little human nature has changed.

And then I turned the 3G wireless on to sync my Kindle with the correct time (it automatically jumped forward an hour) and the Aimee Leduc mystery (by Cara Black) I'd ordered arrived--all while lying in my bed. What decadence!

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