Finished: 10/9/21

Grade: A

When Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov arrives in town he seems like a perfect gentleman, but when he starts inquiring about the purchase of dead souls - deceased peasants who are still counted on the national tax census - the entire town is forced to wonder who this charming man is, and what his goals really are.

This book is less of a NOVEL with a PLOT and more of a COMIC PASTICHE OF RUSSIAN LIFE IN THE 19TH CENTURY.

It is silly, and goofy and one might even say... zainy. What I really love about this book, though, is that although the characters are cartoonish and goofy, they are still well rounded. The author is poking fun at them, but it comes from a place of love rather than anger. The result is characters that are funny but that are still allowed to be real people. We see ourselves in these characters, and our friends, and our relatives. This adds to the comedy, but also allows us to relate to them, and learn from them. Which is pretty cool considering they were written 200 years ago.

AN INTERESTING NOTE: This book is in two volumes, but Gogol never actually finished volume 2. So, as it is published, the second volume is just a cobbled together jumble of his drafts that sort of trails off without any real conclusion.

Finished: 9/25/21

Grade: B+

This Chinese sci-fi epic is one part hard boiled thriller, one part alien apocalypse, and one part treatise on the philosophy of physics.

I started reading this book once before, read about 100 pages, got a little bored and gave up on it. Then everyone I know (my dad and my friend David) told me that it was amazing and that I should give it another shot. So I picked it up again, and honestly I stand by my original conclusion.

It starts with a bang and develops quickly, but in the middle things spread a little thin. The sci-fi concepts are exciting, but some of them feel added on, and there is a lot of explaining.

When the action is happening this book is exciting and fun, but I think, too often, it gets lost in it’s own heady sci-fi sauce.

Or maybe I’m just too dumb for this book. HECK. That could be it.

Finished: 9/1/21

Grade: B+

This is one of a series of Very Short Introductions

published by Oxford University Press. I love these lil books and have read a few of them, namely: Home, Madness, Dada and Surrealism, and Ritual (which was probably my favorite).

In this particular Very Short Introduction, Darryl Jones takes us through a catalogue of horror archetypes, from Monsters, to Body Horror, to Horror and Science. He does his best, in the short page count, to catalogue the significant tales throughout history, but the focus of the essay is heavily colored by the man writing it. The book is called: A Brief Introduction To Horror, but a better title would be: A Brief Introduction To Horror In The Western World

One funny byproduct of this narrow focus is that Jones kept referencing this British horror writer: M. R. James. He was bringing the guy up all the time, next to names like Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe and I was like “who is this M. R. James guy? I never heard of him! Why does he keep talking about this guy?” Then I read the back flap of the book and saw that Darryl Jones is writing a biography of M.R. James. So there you go!

That being said, the prose was light and fun and there were a lot of interesting ideas in there. I’ll probably never watch half of the movies referenced in this book because I’m a big baby, but I’ll certainly read the Wikipedia plot synopses with a fresh understanding.