Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Nevermore: Ripped from the Headlines, Gentleman in Moscow, Klara and the Sun, Agent for the Stars


Reported by Garry


Ripped from the Headlines by Harold Schechter had a rave review.  “This is the most fun book!” says our reader.  This collection of essays digs into the true stories behind 40 of the most iconic movie killers in history.  Psycho, The Hills Have Eyes, Arsenic and Old Lace, Scream and more film all had some basis in real events and stories.  Each essay is less than 10 pages long and self-contained, so our reader really liked the ability to finish a “full story” in a quick sitting.  This salacious, fun read tells the true stories behind the fictionalized stories that we know so well, many of which are far stranger than their fictional counterparts.  Two of our readers highly recommend this book. 


A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles was our next book.  This hefty (480 pages) book tells the story of life and societal changes in Russia in the in the run-up to World War II.  The novel starts in 1922 when Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is sentenced to house arrest in The Hotel Metropol Moscow, a storied luxury hotel across the street from the Kremlin.  The hotel is the location of plots, affairs, thievery and revolution – all of which Count Rostov must negotiate while keeping a low profile.  Our reader loved this novel for its vivid characterizations of the various denizens of the hotel, and the way that it looks at personal growth over time despite circumstances.  This book is highly recommended by our reader.


The speculative fiction Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro was the next book reviewed.  This novel by the Nobel Prize winning author is told through the eyes of Klara, a solar powered Artificial Friend – a type of robot that has been programmed be highly observant of human behavior and give kindness.  Klara is purchased by the mother of Josie, a sickly teenage girl with an unspecified disease.   Our reader found this dystopian near-future book to be very interesting and moving, particularly in the way that the author weaves in sunlight, which Klara must have in order to survive.  This moving, complex book comes highly recommended. 


Another science fiction novel, Agent to the Stars, by John Scalzi comes highly recommended by our next reader.  This funny, insightful romp is written by our readers’ very favorite sci-fi author and follows the story of Tom Stein, a young Hollywood agent who is hired by a race of aliens to manage the reveal of their existence to the world.  One of the (multiple) complicating factors that Tom has to deal with is that the aliens communicate by smell, but themselves smell horrifically awful.  Hijinks ensue involving an elderly dog, a brainless but ambitious blonde actress, Tom’s aging grandmother and a Holocaust film.  Our reader loves Scalzi’s lighthearted, funny, sarcastic wit, and this debut novel is a great example of the author’s works.


Also mentioned:

The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman

So Cold the River by Michael Koryta 

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Old Patagonian Express by Paul Theroux 

The Unidentified:  Mythical Monsters, Alien Encounters and Our Obsession with the Unexplained by Colin Dickey

This Is The Fire: What I say to my friends about racism by Don Lemon

The Black Church:  This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song by Henry Louis Gates

The Girl Explorers: The Untold Story of the Globetrotting Women who Trekked, Flew and Fought Their Way Around the World by Jayne Zanglein

Who is Maud Dixon by Alexandra Andrews

Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton


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