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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Summer reading

In addition to The Brothers Karamazov, I read three other novels this summer.  Although the authors are not likely to ever to placed alongside Dostoyevsky, they are generally respected despite working in lighter genres.

John Le Carre's Smiley's People was an excellent novel to read at the beach because there was sufficient time to read it in large chunks.  In smaller portions, such as in bed at night, the details would have been difficult to retain from one reading to the next.  Wars often produce writers who come to be associated with that conflict, and Le Carre might be remembered as the novelist of the Cold War.

Earlier this summer I read Carl Hiaasen's Bad Monkey.  Like his other novels I've read, it's a comically grotesque crime story with environmental themes.  Hiaasen is a native Floridian who's an avid outdoorsman, and underneath his humor is anger over the damage greed and corruption have done to his state.

I'm currently about to finish James Lee Burke's Light of the World.  Like Hiaasen, Burke's love of the outdoors shows in his writing.  Unlike Hiaasen's, However, there is very little humor in Burke's writing which generally feature acts of extreme violence.  This novel is set in Montana where I believe the author currently lives, but many of his books take place in his native Louisiana.  Both locations are accurately and vividly captured in his descriptive prose.  The plot of this one proceeds and climaxes like an action movie, but the observations about people as well as nature elevate it above similar stories.

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