Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy, narrated by Richard Poe

(Unabridged) Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the second work of McCarthy's that I've listened to (as opposed to read) and it confirms what I suspected. McCarthy's stories are meant to be told. There is poetry in his words that is amplified by the human voice. Certainly, any of his books will move you if you read them, but listen to a good narrator (Richard Poe in this case, who annoyed me to stopping The Story of Edgar Sawtelle but seemed perfect for this book) and the story will pull you in as surely as if you were sitting in a room with McCarthy himself. Being immersed in this story can be a challenge, however, because it is extremely violent, dark, and at times down right unpleasant. But it is never gratuitous - the actions of The Boy and the Judge and the rest of the Glanton Gang are the people themselves. This is an epic of a downward spirally journey that will drag you down with it, if you're willing to go.

My only critisism of the story is there's a feeling of disjointedness. It's like McCarthy ran out of steam at one point, found a new track and then plunged back in. Events are described in painfully good detail, but then huge chunks of time pass with almost no narrative explaining what happened. It's a "wait a minute, did I miss something?" moment that passes quickly, but still, it's a break from a great story that you wish didn't happen.

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Fragile by Chris Katsaropoulos

Fragile Fragile by Chris Katsaropoulos

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Disclosure: This book was given to me through the Goodreads "First Read" program.

If half stars were available this would be 2 1/2, not quite a 3. There's some amazing character depth here, and considering the three main characters tell almost all their own stories, that's a big statement. We see more of these people than they think they are revealing. Also, the settings are very well done, from the cookie cutter mid-range hotel to the soon to be demolished old style movie palace. Katsaropoulos understands how locations can form personalities. However, despite the well done story telling technique of having one character's narration take over in mid-sentence from another's, the story isn't really all that well joined up. The triangle that is said to form between the three characters, that one is necessary for the other two to find peace is simply not true. That one character could be pulled out altogether, and the other two would probably end the same way. Yes, there's crossover, but it's not needed to move the story forward. It's there because each character has a story of their own to tell.

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Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons

Carrion Comfort Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A fascinating concept of "vampires" that feed on violent acts and are able to bend the will of most of the rest of the human population through a sort of parasitical mind control if they choose. Now, blend in that there's a sort of war going on among the vampires, and that they can't always identify each other and that they truly believe that they are a superior being compared to the people they use, and you've got the making of a very good thriller-horror-fantasy story. Simmons' uses his creatures to explain some real historical events that have evoked the "how could that happen?" question, such as Hitler's rise to power and how some Hollywood movies get made.

However, this book is a case of too much of a good thing. It really should have been two books. In fact, it reads like two books with a huge final act battle scene right in the very middle, then going back to suspense building narrative. It takes a LOT of characters to support a book this long, and although Simmons' does an a good job of labeling chapters so that you know who's POV you're switching to, a story shouldn't need a road map to keep you from getting lost.

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Castle Eppstein by Alexandre Dumas

Castle Eppstein Castle Eppstein by Alexandre Dumas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Very, very gothic and a darn good ghost story told in the old fashioned style of a narrator sharing a scary story at a social gathering. Readers who don't like Dumas's over the top melodrama probably won't like this book, and those looking for the intrigue and complicated relationships of The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers will might be a little disappointed as well. This is early Dumas, possibly when he was writing all of a book by himself, and there's as much focus on setting as character in this one, and I liked that. There were portions of the work that didn't read like something written in the 1840s, however and for that I blame the translation. Also, I'm not a fan of footnotes in fiction. They take me out of the story and into a lesson that the editor didn't trust me enough to figure out for myself.

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