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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Verbivore: a devourer of words ...'s LiveJournal:

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Thursday, February 1st, 2007
7:13 pm
[jamie_miller]
The end!
I'm probably not going to post in here any more. I created this thing before Livejournal bestowed the tagging option upon us; since I can simply tag all book-related entries in my journal, I don't see the point in continuing to post here.
Saturday, January 20th, 2007
12:32 am
[jamie_miller]
Finished The Prestige -- pretty damn good. I saw a few of the plot twists coming but the book was well written enough that I didn't mind. Looking forward to the movie.

Currently reading: High School Confidential by Jeremy Iversen. It started weak (I was completely uninterested in his personal tale of privileged loserdom) but as soon as he began writing about those high school kids, the book became unputdownable.

Still trying to get through: The Long Emergency.

Just finished: Shadows Over Baker Street and all of the Y: The Last Man collected works up to volume seven. Can't get enough of that.

Next up: Reading Like A Writer: A Guide For People Who Love Books And For Those Who Want To Write Them.

I haven't written anything of substance lately. Maybe I'll re-read the Burroughs biography too. That never fails to inspire.
Sunday, December 31st, 2006
11:05 pm
[jamie_miller]
What I Read in 2006

Nonfiction
Operating Instructions: a Journal of My Son's First Year by Anne Lamott
Don't Get Too Comfortable by David Rakoff
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
The Commitment by Dan Savage
Subversive Southerner by Catherine Fosl
Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
Lucifer Ascending by Bill Ellis
The Artist as Monster: The Cinema of David Cronenberg by William Beard
Tiger Force: A True Story of Men and War by Michael Sallah and Mitch Weiss
Fist Stick Knife Gun by Geoffrey Canada

Fiction: Short Story Collections
In the Upper Room and Other Likely Stories by Terry Bisson
Casting the Runes and Other Ghost Stories by M. R. James
Roma Eterna by Robert Silverberg

Fiction: Novels
Underworld by Don Delillo
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
The Prestige by Christopher Priest
The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosley
Cell by Stephen King
Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card
The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier
Fire on the Mountain by Terry Bisson

Graphic Novels
Y: The Last Man by Brian Vaughan
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Conan: The Frost Giant's Daughter by Kurt Busiek

Re-reads
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Watchmen, both by Alan Moore
Again, Dangerous Visions edited by Harlan Ellison
Strangers by Dean Koontz
the whole Authority series

Meant to read, but kept getting pushed further down the pile
The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler
Best American Short Stories 2004 edited by Lorrie Moore
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Thursday, December 21st, 2006
11:41 am
[jamie_miller]
Cormac McCarthy
I finished reading Blood Meridian several days ago and wrote about the experience here. I don't remember the last time that a book I read induced nightmares. It's possible that it's never happened before.

I just finished reading The Road by the same author (about an hour ago), written in a similar style. It was devastating but it offered more hope than Blood Meridian, oddly enough, despite being set in a miserable lifeless future of nuclear winter and cannibalism. I wept at the conclusion, set the book on the floor and hugged my son for several minutes.

Next: The Prestige. I want to read it before I see the movie.

Also, if you haven't read Fun Home yet, what are you waiting for?
Saturday, October 7th, 2006
2:37 pm
[jamie_miller]
I just finished FIst Stick Knife Gun. A brief but excellent read that ought to be mandatory for all new teachers, along with Makes Me Wanna Holler.

Still slogging through the Crowley book, and I've started reading The Long Emergency. Also, I started a Reader2 account here.
Tuesday, September 26th, 2006
4:46 pm
[jamie_miller]
I finished Tiger Force a few days ago. What a bitterly depressing book. Gosh, I wonder if anything similar is going on during the Iraq war.

I also finished Fun Home (probably one of the most amazing non-superhero graphic novels I've ever read) and The Artist as Monster, which was pretty good as far as scholarly analyses of films go.

Next: a biography of Aleister Crowley. I'm also re-reading a collection of PK Dick's short stories. The dude was positively prescient.
Wednesday, July 26th, 2006
8:32 am
[jamie_miller]
Currently reading:

  • Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

  • Lucifer Ascending by Bill Ellis -- a scholarly analysis of witch tales, Satanic urban legends, and Harry Potter moral panics

  • numerous Wikipedia entries on various demons, as well as Occultopedia and Delirium's Realm

    On deck:

  • the latest Asimov's

  • The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler

  • Best American Short Stories 2004 edited by Lorrie Moore

  • The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

  • The Artist as Monster: The Cinema of David Cronenberg by William Beard

  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • Monday, June 26th, 2006
    10:56 pm
    [jamie_miller]
    I finished David Sedaris' Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim tonight. It was laugh-out-loud hilarious for the most part, but whenever Sedaris wrote about himself in that dry, disparaging way -- usually in regards to situations where he did not have the nerve, self-respect, or self-confidence to speak up for himself -- I just rolled my eyes and thought, Grow a fucking spine already.

    I could see Johanna Inman writing an equally hilarious book about her family and leaving out all of the awkward self-loathing bullshit.
    Saturday, June 10th, 2006
    10:53 am
    [jamie_miller]
    CURRENT READING
    I finished Terry Bisson's Fire on the Mountain -- fantastic alternate-history book. It tells two tales: one of a rebel slave who joined the rebel army of John Brown and Harriet Tubman, the other of a woman descended from that slave who is charged with bringing his papers to a museum. In this alternate America, Tubman & Brown sparked a revolution with their successful raid on Harper's Ferry. The Civil War was fought between rebel slaves/abolitionists and slaveowners/Southern sympathizers. The Southern United States became Nova Africa, and later, a second revolutionary war was fought to created the United Socialist States of America in 1948.

    Today, I finished the Persepolis graphic novels by Marjane Satrapi, an Iranian expatriate who loathes Western political influence upon her country but enjoys Western cultural products and hates the fundamentalist chokehold on her nation. It is a coming-of-age story but it also provides an alternative perspective on Iran, its internal conflicts, and its relationship with the West. This ought to be mandatory reading for anyone who thinks that all Iranians are Muslim fanatics dedicated to the death of America and Europe.

    I tore through Kurt Busiek's Conan: The Frost Giant's Daughter And Other Stories from Dark Horse Comics a few days ago. Wow. These are much, much better than the other Conan comics I picked up a few months ago. I can't wait to get the next book in the series.

    I'm trying to get through Don Delillo's Underworld, but the writing style is off-putting. The story itself is interesting but the characters speak in a rambling observational manner and the perspective often jumps from chapter to chapter: main character to minor character; first, second and third person. I also plan to read Delillo's Running Dog.

    Also on deck: Van Vogt's Slan and Toni Morrison's Beloved. Can't wait! Hooray for summer reading!
    Tuesday, May 16th, 2006
    8:25 pm
    [jamie_miller]
    I just finished The Brief History of the Dead, a great speculative fiction novel that asks, "What if the afterlife consists solely of dead people who are remembered by the living?" And then it asks, "What happens when fewer and fewer people are left alive?" Very good book. I'll have to pick up the author's collection of short stories.
    Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006
    1:55 pm
    [jamie_miller]
    I just finished Orson Scott Card's Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus.

    I admit that before reading I was skeptical about the approach the book might take. I knew the book's premise -- a group of time-travelers seek to prevent Columbus from instigating the American genocide -- but I had no idea how Card would "redeem" Columbus in this regard. About halfway through the book I started to think that Card might create a world in which Columbus was foiled and then ensuing events ended up being far worse than the destruction of the American peoples. Perhaps the indigenous people of America would conquer Asia or Europe or Africa and end up being even more bloodthirsty and genocidal than the Europeans. Honestly, I thought the whole book was going to be an exercise in moral relativity -- "Yes, Columbus was bad, but the alternative was worse!"

    I am pleased to report that I was completely wrong about the plot of the book as well as Card's perspective. Card assumes from the beginning that Columbus was not evil, merely driven -- and bound by cultural codes and mores that prevented him from seeing the Carribean people as human beings rather than chattel. Other European characters display the same attitudes or worse, and Columbus goes through a soul-searching process ... but I don't want to give away too much of the plot.

    The protagonists, aside from Columbus, are all nonwhite people who feel intense empathy with the Carribean people and intense loathing for their eventual fate at the hands of Europeans. They did not seem like ethnic walk-ons from Central Casting except for a stubborn Muslim who ends up being a suicide bomber of sorts. Even that tidbit might be giving away too much of the plot, though. Better that you read the book for yourself.
    Thursday, March 30th, 2006
    8:42 pm
    [jamie_miller]
    Last Child in the Woods
    Currently blowing me away:

    Last Child in the Woods

    It discusses the importance of growing up in proximity to wild nature. It's a very mainstream book, but it has a lot in common with radical environmentalism. It hints at the idea of urban-technological alienation as a source of many modern ills.

    You should read it ... especially if you have children, you're planning to have children, you work with children, or you care about a particular child -- a nephew or niece or cousin, perhaps.
    Wednesday, March 15th, 2006
    5:43 pm
    [jamie_miller]
    Oh, I've been eager to update this for a couple of weeks now.

    JUST FINISHED READING

    Dan Savage's The Commitment

    JUST FINISHED RE-READING

    Harlan Ellison's Again, Dangerous Visions

    CURRENTLY RE-READING

    Dean Koontz's Strangers (read it years ago and remembered it as being superior to his other books)

    CURRENTLY READING

    Stephen King's Cell

    Subversive Southerner, Anne Braden biography

    Last Child in the Woods, about "nature deficiency syndrome"

    the latest issue of Asimov's

    NEXT UP

    Orson "homophobic jerk" Card's Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus

    On the Fringe, short story collection about teenage outsiders

    Brotherhood of Corruption about corrupt cops and police scandals
    Sunday, February 12th, 2006
    10:01 pm
    [jamie_miller]
    I finished Mosley's The Man in My Basement, a terribly depressing and insightful book. The main character, Charles Blakey, is jobless and directionless. He spends his days playing nickel-and-dime card games with his childhood friends and feeling sorry for himself. He lives alone in his family's home with a basement full of ignored heirlooms and artifacts, and he frets about paying the mortgage. When a white man offers to rent his basement, Blakey first turns him down, but eventually accepts, and the eventual impact on his life is remarkable. The story is obviously a parable, and is aware of it, but Mosley manages to pull it off without seeming preachy or overbearing, in my opinion. This interests me because my stories frequently seem to have an overt moral (as opposed to the covert morals found in nearly every work of fiction you can imagine) and I can never seem to pull off the balancing act of telling a good story versus making a certain point or asserting a certain position or perspective.

    In other news, Christopher Hitchens is apparently writing a book called God Is Not Great: The Case Against Religion. I can't wait to read it next year.
    Friday, February 10th, 2006
    5:17 am
    [jamie_miller]
    I'm currently reading Walter Mosley's The Man in My Basement. I finished Roma Eterna, which was really more like a thematic collection of short stories than a novel, and re-read the Moore books a couple of times. The LOEG book two scene in which Hyde punishes Griffin for his transgressions is unforgettable, as is the scene just a few pages later, when Hyde asks Mina for two favors before going off to his final battle.

    American Monsters was a fast read. It's always easier to be led from hate to outrage to loathing. Reading American Rebels takes more time -- the biographies are just as interesting but for some reason I'm not tempted to devour ten at a time. I read one and I'm done for the day. Why is that?
    Thursday, February 2nd, 2006
    6:40 am
    [jamie_miller]
    Almost finished with Roma Eterna. Re-reading The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen volumes I and II, and Watchmen as well.

    I want Alan Moore's job.
    Thursday, January 26th, 2006
    4:15 pm
    [jamie_miller]
    I finished American Monsters and Don't Get Too Comfortable. The former book is a collection of essays on various bastards in US history. I learned quite a bit from the book -- for instance, I knew Jefferson Davis was a bastard but I didn't realize how much of a bastard he was; and who knew that Thomas Edison was such a jerk? A very quick read.

    DGTC, on the other hand, started strong and lost its bite about halfway through. It's a collection of roast-the-privileged essays from a self-loathing cultural gadfly, David Rakoff.

    I'm going to finish Casting the Runes and Other Ghost Stories by M. R. James now. I picked up Roma Eterna by Robert Silverberg and Pirates of the Universe by Terry Bisson.
    Saturday, January 21st, 2006
    9:34 pm
    [jamie_miller]
    I support legalized abortion because I want lower crime rates.

    That's one of the many conclusions drawn by Freakonomics, a book I just finished reading. It was a 7-day "bestseller" checkout from the library but it was such a fast, fascinating read that I finished it a couple of days early.

    Some chapter titles:


    Chapter 1: What Do Schoolteachers and Sumo Wrestlers Have in Common?
    Chapter 2: How Is the Ku Klux Klan Like a Group of Real-Estate Agents?
    Chapter 3: Why Do Drug Dealers Still Live with Their Moms?
    Chapter 4: Where Have All the Criminals Gone?
    Chapter 5: What Makes a Perfect Parent?
    Chapter 6: Would a Roshanda by Any Other Name Smell as Sweet?

    A very interesting and readable book, much better than Hidden Order: The Economics of Everyday Life, which I read last year.
    Friday, January 13th, 2006
    4:10 pm
    [jamie_miller]
    Current reading
    Y: The Last Man, issues 1-17. It's a great graphic novel about a mysterious plague that kills every creature with a Y chromosome on the entire planet -- all males, human and animal, die suddenly and simultaneously -- except two: Yorick and his pet monkey Ampersand. The science fiction premise offers a great opportunity for discussions about feminism and gender issues, not to mention witty one-liners from Yorick. Great stuff. Recommended.

    Casting the Runes and Other Ghost Stories by M. R. James.

    In the Upper Room and Other Likely Stories by Terry Bisson.

    Don't Get Too Comfortable by David Rakoff.

    Plus I'm almost finished with Operating Instructions.
    Saturday, January 7th, 2006
    5:32 pm
    [jamie_miller]
    current reading
  • A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
  • The Mass Psychology of Fascism by Wilhelm Reich
  • Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill
  • Operating Instructions: a Journal of My Son's First Year by Anne Lamott (author of Bird by Bird!)

    I think I'd like to re-read Bird by Bird, too.
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