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On Reading: Libraries

Finding a book in the library is like looking for a needle that’s been buried in a pile of straightened paper clips.

I start by empirically ruling out the bad cocaine of writers – the Dale Brown’s, and anything by Lorenzo Carcaterra. Any author that I’ve tried once and found wanting goes on my active no look list. I don't snort, or read, crap twice.

Dale Brown is so bad that I ignore all the other Brown’s – they are dead to me. Sometimes I ignore the entire "B" section just to be on the safe side.

Carcaterra lost me with the dead baby smuggling book – and it wasn’t the dead babies, I can work with that, it was his writing. I can read about the micro waving of babies, (until they reach room temperature,) with the best of them, but you had better bring your “A” game when you write it.

Deaver’s not bad – but he’s an industrial writer with retainers that work on an assembly line and use only his plotting, not his voice -- like Clancy with his “co-authors.” He’s (They are) out.

Rollins sucks, he’s out. (Much of my time is spent saying, “this sucks.”)

I cruise then for the authors I know – Jeff Long, Philip Kerr, Marin Cruz Smith – people who write new stuff enough to make an effort to look for it. Atkinson’s great, but isn’t prolific – she’s in, but I don’t check the “A’s” much anymore, so she’s out, until someone reminds me that she should be in.

I like Koonz’s and King, and think both are better writers than most people give them credit for. Koonz writes in simple sentences and is almost a Gardner – Gardner lite maybe, but it's easy stuff to follow, and he shows a real love for digs as well.

And, per pound, King’s the best writer out there today, but reading his books makes my arms sag after about 500 pages, and this is before I've half finished the damn things. 

Heinlein ruined Science Fiction for me. I was too young when I read him and got imprinted with him -- others now fail in comparison. I read only the British Science Fiction – Hamilton and Reynolds – American writers tend to be science guys in the worst way – hard science connected by soap operas of characters. Sometimes I think they don’t even try to connect, other times I think they can’t.

I’m wary of Palahniuk. I can’t pronounce his name, and sometimes think that he know too much about me and how I think. He’s in, but I’m careful, he could be out if I think someone’s staring at me.

Neal Stephenson and Dan Simmons are gods to me, but their books are like seasons – they take months to read; months I would be better off living in the real world. They are in, but make me feel both excited and guilty at the same time. Who am I kidding? They are in.

In San Jose, the libraries don’t have much there there. Though we passed a big bond issue years ago and replaced all of the Carnegie buildings with brand new ones, we didn’t budget for the books.

Sometimes I just walk down the isles out of habit, and nothing moves me but the seductive smell of a Librarian, and the slutty way she wears her half glasses on the peak of her nose.


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