2006 Books 26 - 30

26. Out With The Stars by James Purdy - This novel was written 20 some years after In A Shallow Grave, and Purdy has moved on from searching for a reason to live to the obsession with aging. There's sloppy editing in the book, and it's repetitive when it comes to some of the narrative passages, but his characters kept me interested. The theme of the story is copped from "The Picture of Dorian Grey", not a bad place to get an idea, and at least the author's honest about his inspirations - a main character is named "Cyril Vane".

27. Eustace Chisholm and The Works by James Purdy - (Yes, another James Purdy book. I hope to read all of them, eventually.) This one is set in Depression era Chicago, with a narrator (the title character) in the mid stages of syphilis, although he seems happy enough to ignore that it's having any effect on him. Eustace also serves as a protagonist and sometimes he's an antagonist in the story. The rest of the characters can be summed up as their own worst enemies. I don't usually do warnings with books, but in this case, I will. This book had one of the most horrific, even if it was non-explicit, torture plot lines I've ever read. It seemed all too real for fiction. It's very necessary to the story, but it was hard to read.

28. The People's Act of Love by James Meek - A story of the extremes (and they're really extreme) that people go to in the name of religion, political power, and love. Set in Russia at the end of the Communist Revolution, it's Dostoevsky if Dostoevsky had wanted to sell a lot more books. I had a hard time getting into it, but when the three main characters are joined in one thread, the story gets very interesting.

29. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest adapted by Irene Trimble - I love spoilers!

30. Malcolm by James Purdy - The blurb on the back of the 1967 Avon Paperback edition says, "Malcolm is the bizarre story of an innocent young man of "exceptional beauty" discovered sitting on a park bench one day waiting for his father. He gets up and goes on a remarkable odyssey meeting improbable characters in situations that are strange, ribald, and poignant." What it doesn't say is how dark this story is, as the "improbable characters" treat Malcolm as a possession rather than a fifteen year old boy. It's a sad story, hard to read in places, but in the end, I loved every page of it.

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