because i spend a lot of time commuting in the train…

world’s end, by t. c. boyle

T. Coraghessan Boyle, author of Water Music, a hilarious reinvention of the exploration of the Niger, returns to his native New York State with this darkly comic historical drama exploring several generations of families in the Hudson River Valley. Walter Van Brunt begins the book with a catastrophic motorcycle accident that sends him back on a historical investigation, eventually encompassing the frontier struggles of the late 1600s. Any book that opens with a three-page “list of principal characters” and includes chapters titled “The Last of the Kitchawanks,” “The Dunderberg Imp,” and “Hail, Arcadia!” promises a welcome tonic to the self-conscious inwardness of much contemporary fiction; World’s End delivers and was rewarded with the PEN/Faulkner Award for 1988.

barbarians at the gate: the fall of rjr nabisco

The leveraged buyout of the RJR Nabisco Corporation for $25 billion is a landmark in American business history, a story of avarice on an epic scale. Two versions of the fierce competition for the largest buyout ever consummated are presented by skilled journalists with contrasting styles. Burrough and Helyar are clearly fascinated with the personalities of the players in the deal and with the trappings of corporate wealth. The restless, flamboyant personality of Ross Johnson, CEO of RJR Nabisco, is portrayed as the key to the events that were to unfold. The colorful description of all of the players and the events will likely have broad appeal. Lampert signals the complexity of her story by introducing her narrative with a three-page cast of characters. Her focus on the strategy of the players and on the fast-paced action provides a more concise description of a deal big enough to augment the wealth of many rich people.

couples by john updike

Trapped in their cozy catacombs, the couples have made sex by turns their toy, their glue, their trauma, their therapy, their hope, their frustration, their revenge, their narcotics, their main line of communication and their sole and pitiable shield against the awareness of death. Adultery, says Updike, has become a kind of ‘imaginative quest’ for successful hedonism that would enable man to enjoy an otherwise meaningless life….The couples of Tarbox live in a place and time that together seem to have been ordained for this quest.

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