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Mount TBR 2012: Like Sisyphus, I am, with that burden up the hill [Nov. 18th, 2012|07:44 am]
David Alexander McDonald (Steven E. McDonald)

Time for the update of my Mount TBR effort. As you'll see, the original list isn't as dented as it should be, and there are yet more additions of more recent vintage. The eyes continue to be an issue, so there's been a continued dependence on audiobooks, which now constitute the greater part of my purchases at the book sales, and the larger part of my choices at the library.

01) Stephen Fry - Making History
02) Caleb Carr - Killing Time
-Oh, good lord, it's a Verneian polemic set in the future, with super-scientists out to fix the world. I got through it, but it wasn't easy.

03) Frederik Pohl - The Voices Of Heaven (audio)
-I was disappointed with this, unfortunately. It's nicely written and thoroughly unenthralling.

04) David Brin - Sundiver
As a friend has noted, this was early days for Brin, and still feeling his way around. For all the shiny elements, it really struck me as a dressed-up bog standard mystery with an on-a-submarine element. It won't stop me from reading more of his work, though.

05) Todhunter Ballard - High Iron
06) Dean Owen - Last Chance Range
07) D. B. Newton - Shotgun Guard
08) Alan LeMay - Thunder In The Dust
09) Eugene Cunningham - Riders Of the Night
10) L.L. Foreman - The Renegade
11) Lewis B. Patten - The Odds Against Circle L
12) Richard S. Prather - Lie Down, Killer
13) Cornell Woolrich - Fright
14) Richard Aleas - Songs Of Innocence
15) Richard S. Prather - Darling, It's Death
16) James A. Michener - The Bridges At Toko-Ri
17) Alan Ryan (ed.) - Vampires: two Centuries Of Great Vampire Stories
18) Janet Evanovich - Fearless Fourteen
19) James Kakalios - The Physics Of Superheroes
20) DC Showcase Presents Dial H For Hero
21) Edward S. Aarons - Assignment Cong Hai Kill
22) John Zakour - The Frost-Haired Vixen
23) DeCandido/Mack/York - Star Trek S.C.E. Book 6 Wildfire
24) Sharyn McCrumb - Bimbos Of the Death Sun
25) Ed McBain - Widows (I've replaced the paperback with an omnibus that includes two other novels)
26) Bradford Scott - Curse Of Texas Gold
27) John Brunner - The Dramaturges Of Yan
28) Shelby Foote - Shiloh
29) John Zakour & Lawrence Ganem - The Plutonium Blonde
30) Stephen Bly - Friends And Enemies
31) Stephen King - Hearts In Atlantis (audio)
-You know, King's writing isn't bad, and he has moments of absolute brilliance, and he can certainly paint quite the picture when he's working at it...but there are times when I wish he'd just bloody well get to the point! This was a hard one to get through, even in audio book form.

32) The Essential Iron Man Vol. 1
33) Ellis Peters - The Funeral Of Figaro (audio)
34) Alan Paton - Cry, The Beloved Country (audio)
35) Marvel Essential Tomb Of Dracula Vol. 4
36) Alastair Reynolds - Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days
37) Sandra McDonald - The Stars Down Under
38) Peter F. Hamilton - The Reality Dysfunction
39) David Toop - Ocean Of Sound: Aether Talk, Ambient Sound, And Imaginary Worlds
40) David Manning (Ed.) - Vaughan-Williams On Music
41) James Patterson - London Bridges (audio)
-I don't know what happened with this book, but it comes across as though Patterson was writing sections of it furiously while sitting in airport lounges on the way to various places. I have the shape of the story somewhat but I'll be damned if it actually makes sense. This is without bringing up the multiple endings.

42) Janet Evanovich - Plum Lucky (audio)
43) Frederik Pohl - The Best Of
-What's to say? An excellent selection of short stories and novelettes from Fred.

44) Greg Palast - Vulture's Picnic
45) Charlotte MacLeod - Exit The Milkman
46) Charles De Lint - Medicine Road
47) Charles Stross - Halting State
48) J. G. Ballard - The Burning World
49) Nevada Barr - Endangered Species (audio)
50) Various - Dinosaur Fantastic (anthology)
- The nice thing about anthologies is that you're not stuck with a bad story for very long. It's interesting to see the various ways that people meet the criterion of getting dino-related elements into their tales. A couple are flat out wonkily weird.

51) Frederik Pohl - Platinum Pohl
52) Max Estes - Hello, Again
-A cute and quick read from Top Shelf

53) Loren D. Estleman - General Murders (audio, read by Robert Forster)
-I was initially thrown by Forster's voice, as it initially seemed wrong for Estleman's Amos Walker character. Ten minutes in, it seemed perfect, just the right worn, deep tone. It's a short collection, but very enjoyable.

54) Pierre Boulle - The Bridge Over The River Kwai
55) Robert Terrall - Kill Now, Pay Later
56) Jack Prelutsky - Behold The Bold Umbrellaphant And Other Poems (audio)
-Needs another listen, I think. It's the audio version of three of his kid's books.

57) Randy Kennedy - Subwayland (non-fiction about the New York subways and underground life)
58) Jon Ronson - The Psychopath Test
-Narrated by Ronson, thankfully, and much more organized than his The Men Who Stare At Goats. He takes a trip through the Mental Health industry, with a focus on how psychopathy is defined, and finds himself branching out to examine the Scientologists and those who stalk the halls of power and the dungeons of Wall Street.

59) Elizabet Peterzen - The Last Draw (Sista Stcket in Sweden)
60) Lawrence Block - The Thief Who Couldn't Sleep
61) Chuck Rosenthal - The Heart Of Mars
62) Christopher Moore - You Suck
63) Elmer Kelton - Shotgun
64) Lawrence Block - Some Days You Get The Bear
The title story in this was a pleasant surprise, quirky, with an odd ending that makes me wonder about the further story of the man who need to sleep with a teddybear and the woman who slept with her boa constrictor. Overall, a quite enjoyable collection that ended up as my traveling book.

65) Ed McBain - Fiddlers
A pretty basic 87th Precinct mystery, with a lot of odd interaction with the characters -- all sorts of romances staggering into being, falling apart, maintaining. Meanwhile someone is killing older people. Oddly, all of the police characters seem to be established here as being i their mid-thirties...apparently since the first book, published in 1958.

66) Jack Gantos - I am Not Joey Pigza (audio)
67) Rick Geary - The Fatal Bullet
I was surprised to find myself being drawn into this graphic adaptation of the story of the assassination of President Garfield and the sorry, sordid tale of his assassin. I'm now looking forward to the other Geary books.

68) Rick Geary - The Case Of Madeleine Smith
69) Rick Geary - The Mystery Of Mary Rogers
70) Sir John Betjeman - Summoned By Bells (audio)
71) Stephen King - Blood And Smoke (audio)
72) Ray Bradbury - From The Dust Returned (audio)
- Alright, what just happened?! I listened to this and retain nothing whatsoever, which means I'm going to have to listen to it again.

73) Bernard Cornwell - Sharpe's Company (audio)
-While I can enjoy the historical detail, I've felt that sometimes the novels get bogged down, and somewhat repetitive and tedious. At the same time I'm fascinated by Cornwell's historical afternotes.

74) Bernard Cornwell - Sharpe's Sword (audio)
-This was hard to get through at times, as Sharpe has an antagonist here who's genuinely horrible.

75) Loren D. Estleman - Retro (audio)
76) raúlrsalinas - Red Arc: a call for liberacion
-Southwestern beat poetry, listening to it, with Fred Ho on sax. It's unfortunately on the whiny end of beat poetry, but I'm going to give it another go.

77) Leslie Ernenwein - Rampage West
78) Adam Hall - Quiller
-Adam Hall was a major influence on my writing. Finished this, sadly. One of the best of the Quiller books.

79) David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day (audio)
- Sometimes salty, often pithy, and at times very funny. I was suitably amused. Edit: Now working through The Ultimate David Sedaris Box Set, borrowed from the library.

80) John C. Dofflemeyer (ed.) - Maverick Western Verse
81) Bernard Cornwell - Sharpe's Trafalgar (audio)
- Filling in Sharpe's early career, as he returns from India to England by way of the Battle of Trafalgar. Curiously, it's a very passive story, with Sharpe as more of an observer to events, rather than an active participant. It's an excellent picture of life and conditions of the time, mind you, and makes me glad we've come some way from this kind of horrible existence.

82) Chelsea Quinn Yarbro - The Palace
83) Martin H. Greenberg (ed.) - The Further Adventures Of The Man Of Steel
84) John Whitman - 24 Declassified: Cat's Claw
85) Steve Frazee - Tumbling Range Woman
85) Harutoshi Fukui - Samurai Commando: Mission 1549 Vols. 1 & 2 (doing both of these together as they're a complete story)
86) Brian W. Aldiss - Bow Down To Nul
87) Richard S. Prather - The Cheim Manuscript
88) Richard S. Prather - The Shell Scott Sampler
89) Richard North Patterson - Protect And Defend (audio)
90) Al Franken - Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them (audio - maybe, as I have this in a large print edition as well as on cassette)
91) Martin H. Greenberg (ed.) - The Further Adventures Of Batman, Vol. 2
92) Eddie Campbell - The Black Diamond Detective Agency
93)Jon Ronson - The Men Who Stare At Goats
-This rambles a bit more than I'd like, unlike The Psychopath Test. Even so, when I finally got to the movie I was very annoyed that the reporter character was an American...it took me a while to swallow the fictionalized element of the production. Ronson himself is such a quirky character that they really should have had Ewan MacGregor playing an analogue of him, rather than a generic neurotic American.

94) Brian K. Vaughan - Runaways: Teenage Wasteland
95) Brian K. Vaughan - Runaways: The Good Die Young
96) Runaways - True Believers
97) Ray Bradbury - Himself (audio) (Bradbury reading nineteen stories)
-And not a one of them unfamiliar, which is okay. Enjoyable performances from Bradbury.

98) Ray Bradbury - Dandelion Wine (audio)
99) Bernard Cornwell -- Sharpe's Honor (audio)
100) Bernard Cornwell - Sharpe's Rifles (audio)
101) Richard Wilbur - The Voice Of The Poet (audio/text)
102) Armistead Maupin - The Night Listener (audio)
103) Jonathan Lethem - You Don't Love Me Yet (audio)
104) Sena Jeter Naslund - Four Spirits (audio)
105) Anthony Lloyd - My War Gone By, I Miss It So (audio)
It starts out interesting, but soon rambles off directionlessly, as much about the misadventure of Lloyd's life as the Bosnia-Herzegovina war.

106) Len Deighton-Funeral In Berlin
-With the ongoing enforced moribundity, with me confined to bed much of the time, I've been wandering about amongst the audio books. I started in on this one yesterday evening, and just never stopped with it. The tapes, though, are in rather questionable shape. My dead tree copy of the novel is in one of the stacks under the coffee table. And as I've done The Ipcress File (last year), I suppose I'll soon have to reread The Billion-Dollar Brain and Horse Under Water.

107) E. E. "Doc" Smith - Triplanetary
-My friend Tribs got a flea in her ear about reading these books, and that got me interested in reading them again, and so here we are. Oh, was this ever starchy space opera fun. I don't think it's aged all that well. Still and all, expect the other books in the series to follow on in this list.

108) John Mortimer - The Trials Of Rumpole (audio)
Read by the immortal Leo McKern, who always will be Rumpole for all of us, and wonderfully phlegmatic he is too, rumbling through two highly amusing tales of the beleaguered barrister's life.

109) Elmore Leonard - Cuba Libre (audio)
Ostensibly a historical novel about the sinking of the USS Maine and the Spanish-American War (and the liberation of Cuba), it's an occasionally hilarious semi-romantic romp that makes (sometimes amusing) reference to actual events and people, and features the world's most oddball bank robber (he tends only to rob banks when someone owes him money and has been stalling for a while, and then he's only intent on making a withdrawal for the amount owed from the account of the debtor. It never goes well.) George Guidall reads, and does a beautiful job.

110) Andrew Martin - The Necropolis Railway (audio)
The first of the Jim Stringer railway mysteries, and probably more for the railway wonk like myself who'll appreciate the details, right down to the romantic interlude that's really an excuse to look at the state of the London Underground in 1903. Enjoyably read by Hugh Walters.

111) Herge - The Adventures Of TinTin Volume 1 (TinTin In America/Cigars Of The Pharoah/The Blue Lotus)
I'm only though the first story, and have no idea when I'll read the other two.

112) Edward Marston - The Railway Viaduct (An Inspector Colbeck Mystery) (audio)
- This got much more interesting when it stopped being a Victorian mystery and instead started delving into the history of the times, and looking at the ongoing issues between the French and the English. The mystery is eventually paid off, but I found myself not caring all that much about that aspect.

113) Ed McBain - Cop Hater (audio)
- The very first 87th Precinct mystery. This was a revisit for me, and to top it off I'd just seen the movie adaptation. The audio version I listened to was from 1989 and, oh boy, from the state of the tapes, you can tell. The reader for this version has come in for some stick as he uses an evenly paced and almost monotone voice, but I actually liked the way he read -- it was very clear, and very much in keeping with the material.

114) Ed McBain - The Mugger (audio)
- Shorter than the first 87th Precinct book, and with a stronger focus on Bert Kling (Steve Carella being off on his honeymoon.) I'm not sure why, but I had a bit of trouble staying focused on this one, and not remembering anything about the first time I read it. Monahan and Munroe play a larger part in this one, too, but they haven't become the amusing Rude Mechanicals of later 87th Precinct stories and are pretty much stone-faced humorless homicide dicks.

115) Ed McBain - Ten Plus One (audio)
- By this point Monaghan and Munroe have turned into their snarky Shakespearean Rude Mechanicals characterizations, with dryly amusing dialogue that shoots back and forth past, usually, the exasperated Steve Carella. A very twisty mystery with a grim resolution. Manages to give a very good idea of how frustrating police work can be.

116) Christopher Moore - The Stupidest Angel (audio)
- Bucolic Pine Cove, CA, a town of 5000 souls...and the focus of a visit from the Archangel Raziel, who is unfortunately a little light in the halo. One badly phrased childish wish later, and all hell's breaking loose. Funny. nasty, and stocked with some great characters (including a graveyard full of catty ghosts), it's a short but sharp read.

117) Gene Wilder - My French Whore (audio)
- A novella-length romance -- one might be expecting something comedic from Wilder, but this is very short on humor, despite the set-up (a man leaves his unwelcoming wife, joins the US Army in World War I, ends up captured by the Germans, and passes himself off as a German spy.) The reading on this one is treacle-slow as well.

118) Bill Pronzini - Fever
- I've been going back and forth in the later Nameless Detective books, having done Hardcase, Schemers and Camouflage as library audio books. This one, and some others, I have in dead tree format a a result of book sale bag days. They're quick reads, but I've been enjoying them for the characters as much as the mysteries.

119) Stan Lee, Jack Kirby - Marvel Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 4
- Starting this black and white phonebook collection I rediscovered my admiration for Jack Kirby's lunatic vision and the sheer senseless enormousness of the Lee/Kirby FF, but, my goddess, the sexism and soap opera can grind a bloke's soul to powder. Fortunately my one working eye can only handle a couple of stories at a time.

120) T. S. Eliot-The Wasteland
- Eliot was a tremendous influence for me as a poet, and I revisit his works from time to time, in both dead tree and audio format (though I only rarely listen to the recordings of Eliot reading his work, as he's got the monotone approach of an accountant.)

121) Alan Moore, Al Rio - Voodoo: Dancing In The Dark
- I found this interesting, despite my antipathy towards the character of Voodoo. Moore essentially attempts to do what he did with Swamp Thing, though on perhaps a smaller scale. He also delivers a small education in Voudoun, treats Voodoo herself as a tabula rasa (or, more correctly, an empty vessel), and prototypes what he would do not much later with Promethea.So, rather a lot better than the t&a art would suggest.

122-126) Kevin Hearne - Hounded, Hexed, Hammered, Tricked, Two Ravens And One Crow
- The first four novels and one novella in the Iron Druid Chronicles, which are set in Arizona. Hilarious fantasy that pretty much tosses the kitchen sink into the tale as a 2100 year old Druid demonstrates that he can still be led down the garden path. The next book is due out at the end of this month.

127-129) Jim Butcher - Grave Peril, Summer Knight, Death Masks
- Finally continuing on with Butcher's series, and incidentally clearing out my stacks. The books do keep me reading, although sometimes I feel they could do with a bit of a trim, while the overarching story seems stretched a bit thin. However, I'll carry on for the moment.

139-140) Robert B. Parker - Brimstone, Blue-Eyed Devil
- Brief, sometimes brutal, westerns -- in some respects, Spencer with horses, really. Not essential, but not difficult reads either, though they rather evaporate like candyfloss afterward.

141) Erma M. Bombeck - I Lost Everything In The Post-Natal Depression (audio)
- Congenial observations from the suburban 1970s. I read several of these when they first came out, and it was interesting to revisit Bombeck's work.

142) Roy Thomas/Neal Adams - X-Men Visionaries: Neal Adams
- Another revisiting for me. Adams' work on X-Men pulled the title out of the mediocre float it had lived in since it began, but it was too late, and the title was canceled shortly afterward.

143) Julie Lipson-Ghost Stories of 17th Century China: From Po Chung-Ling's Liu Tzai Pavilion
- Won at Goodreads. Rather meh.

144) Robin Schulman-Eat the City: A Tale of the Fishers, Foragers, Butchers, Farmers, Poultry Minders, Sugar Refiners, Cane Cutters, Beekeepers, Winemakers, and Brewers Who Built New York
- Very interesting and quite engaging nonfiction that looks at various aspects of the culinary history and present of New York City. A re-read is in order for next year.

145) Howard Chaykin, Dan Brereton - Thrillkiller
- Re-read of this Elseworlds volume (it compiles both the original story and its sequel.) It's very well done.

146) Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, etc. - Vampirella Master Series Vol.1
- And to this I say, ehhh. Morrison and Millar earning paychecks in their early days.

147) Laurence Yep - Hiroshima (audio)
- Short, to the point, sad, yet with a little hope.

148-150) Chris Claremont, et al - X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, X-Men: Phoenix Rising, X-Men: The Asgardian Wars
- Re-read of one, which holds up better than I expected, re-read of the second in compiled form, which, well, 1970s X-Men that's a clunkier read now, and catching up on the third, which was pretty much candyfloss for the brain.

Ed McBain - The Last Dance
- The ageless detectives of the 87th Precinct get involved in a case that involves plays, a musical, and romances that go back to the 1920s. Nothing out of the ordinary for this series, though there's a few amusing bits of self-deprecating humor.

152) Jonathan Aycliffe-The Lost
- An epistolary novel that attempts to ring a change on Dracula and unfortunately manages to be rather dull.

153-154) Bill Pronzini-The Ghosts Of Ragged-Ass Gulch, The Booktaker (audio)
- Two novellas featuring Pronzini's "Nameless". Solid light mysteries. Free releases from Audible.

155) Jeff Mariotte-Trail Of Time (audio)
- Graphic Audio edition. Highly entertaining, though tending to the purple at times.

156) Dave Stone-Citadel Of Dreams
- One of the Telos Doctor Who novellas. Slightly surreal tale of Seven and Ace.

Again, I suspect there's things missing, but does it much matter? Not really. At this point I have no expectation of making it through the remaining books before the end of the year, partly because I'm finding it much easier to deal with either audio, or with ebooks, not to mention that I keep falling into a "read this entire series before the next book!" routine. My pace of reading has, however, increased, which is nice, though audiobooks do slow me a little.

[User Picture]From: p_m_cryan
2012-11-20 11:19 pm (UTC)
I have been taking copious notes from your list.

And we got the package.... thank you!
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