Once upon a time, I absorbed the following jingle from a Garfield cartoon:
Cats are keen, cats are great, cats are clean, they like your plate.
It’s not exactly Shakespeare, I know, but it can serve as an earworm if you haven’t heard any Madonna lately.
This week’s essay at Favorite Thing Ever was inspired by the memory of my dead cat Buddha, and all the other felines I have known and loved dearly. But since Canada’s true champion number one Cat Fan is the brilliant hard SF author Peter Watts, it is about him too.
I find it hard to keep track of the titles of the Millennium trilogy books, but The Girl Who Played with Fire is the second. The first is a sophisticated literary novel and also something of a classic whodunnit, in the sense that there’s a killer, a number of suspects and a reasonable chance that the reader will work out, from the clues, the identity of the guilty party.
The Girl Who Played with Fire leans to being a straightforward thriller. There’s international cloak and dagger stuff afoot and the reader really doesn’t get enough information to put it all together on their own, before the big reveal.
Instead, Larssen plays an intricate guessing game with our emotions. As Lisbeth Salander’s various friends are forced to question who she really is and what she might be capable of, our own belief in her is subtly undermined. It’s a rather marvelous bit of sleight-of-hand, I think. Through the middle of the book I was torn between my writerly certainty that the plot would play out a certain way (and I was right) and a powerful “ARRRGH! NO!” response.
It’s a good book, an interesting one. Salander is an awesome heroine.
In related news, I’ve cobbled together a page containing all my Books Read lists since 2002. It’s long, stupidly long, but it means you can search for authors if you’re interested. Or search for yourself and give me hell for missing your last book!
Don’t panic! 2011 is not over; another year hasn’t whipped by so fast you actually did miss it. This is just a bit of a start on my shiny new list, with a note about how last year segued into this one.
You see, in order to facilitate my first book of 2011 being Killing Rocks, by D D Barant, my final book of 2010 was, naturally enough, the book that preceded it in the series: Death Blows.
I enjoyed both books a great deal, and will have more to say about Killing Rocks soon. In the meantime, I thought it might be nice to have the full What Alyx Reads at your fingertips:
The push to get a few more books read before January is an odd sort of end-year resolution, and it prompts me to wonder if any of you has a similar deadline looming December 31st… something that isn’t work related, so much. Most of us decide to embark upon Personal Improvement during the holidays, and have forgotten all about it by April, am I right? Anyway, this is my quest. And I’ve failed, so far, to plump up my numbers by striking gold in the graphic novel dept: I did like Grandville, but I didn’t love it, and have set aside a bunch of the other prospects after 2-3 pages.
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers covers bases I expected–cadaver research in a variety of contexts. It examined the ethics surrounding how donated bodies are used, stuff about Body Worlds, and lots of material on forensics, including the examination of decomposition by leaving corpses lying around outside. (You may have encountered this in procedural novels like The Body Farm). It also had plenty of things I’d never thought of: using corpses to make crash-test dummies, the cannibalistic use of bodies in medicine, for example, and a discussion of how much mercury is released into the atmosphere during your average cremation.