Tuesday, March 15, 1994

Mississippi Solo

by Eddy L. Harris

In his first travel adventure, Harris goes down the Mississippi, from Lake Itasca to the sea, in a canoe. It was very good, although not up to par with his later two books. The style was patchy and the narration overall was barer than Native Stranger's – less description, less musing and philosophical reflection. Nevertheless, an engrossing and exciting book, if only because of the description of the feat itself.

three stars

Tuesday, March 8, 1994

The Zap Gun

by Philip K. Dick

This was like a lot of PKD books - many names; many characters, almost all with Dick's education and interests; some bad writing; some good writing; a demented, convoluted plot.  This book was even more convoluted than most: (a) there are weapons designers for East and West, who get weapons from trances; (b) the weapons are not real, due to a secret agreement; (c) a real nut, a weapons fanatic (who like all civilians thinks the weapons are real) is appointed to the government; (d) alien satellites begin to take Earth cities; (e) an obscure comic book contains East & West's weapons' sketches (this phenomenon never explained); (f) an ancient "war vet" is found who seems to be from the war with the aliens, which just started.  Anyway, I enjoyed it for what it was, familiar as I am with Dick's themes and obsessions.  It contained passages clearly the same as some PKD stories: "War Game," "War Vet" and "Beyond Lies the Wub."

two stars

Sunday, March 6, 1994

Three Men In a Boat

by Jerome K. Jerome

Three rather lackadaisical friends decide to take a boat trip down the Thames, only to run into some rather amusing adventures. I liked this book quite a bit. It started out incredibly funny, a laugh a line, then became anecdotal, only slightly interesting to me. When Jerome started adding in history factoids, seemingly just to show off, it got tiresome. And he didn't follow up on the characters he established at the beginning, just linked one story to another. However, though it bordered on boring at times, the humor and stylish tone lasted. The high-minded yet clueless tone of the narrator clearly influenced P.G. Wodehouse's Bertie.

four stars