Chasing the Ripper – Patricia Cornwall – Cornwall has a lot of time and reputation invested in her contention that she has identified the infamous Jack the Ripper, and it shows in this short account of the process she went through in order to attach a name to the bloody murderer. But her tone is so contentious and defensive that I grew tired of all the bluster about a third of the way through and decided to return the little book to the library unread.
Killing Patton – Bill O’Reilly – After listening to O’Reilly promote this one on his show a couple of times, I was curious about the facts surrounding the supposedly accidental death of General George Patton. Unfortunately, this relatively short book is padded with a history of Patton’s World War II campaigns and spends few pages on the actual circumstances of the jeep crash that killed the general. I was not in the mood for a history of the war, grew frustrated with how long the book was taking to get to the point, and set it aside for good.
Maid Not for You – Jean Bergman – I am really sick of books written by people working in the service industries in which they curse, rant, and ridicule the people they are supposedly serving. I’ve read ones written by waiters, maids, and other hotel employees and they all come across as angry tirades written by people who hate their jobs and customers. Maid Not for You is probably no worse than similar ones I did finish; it just made me realize that enough was enough and I quit on it.
The Bully Pulpit – Doris Kearns Goodwin – I very much enjoy and admire the work of Goodwin and have read several of her books, but for some reason, I grew bored with The Bully Pulpit about half way through, and it has been patiently waiting for me to pick it back up for several months now. Maybe it’s the fact that Taft is such a boring biographical subject that caused this. I find the man’s life to have been so tedious a read that even his interaction with the flamboyant Teddy Roosevelt left me yawning.
The Bees – Laline Paull – I am one of those people who did not much care for Watership Down, a book considered an absolute classic by most who have read it, so I should have known, I suppose, that The Bees would not work for me. It is just too damned cute for its own good: innocent little bee aspires for more, etc., and has to fight the powerful, higher-ranking bees who benefit from the established hierarchy. This one is full of symbolism that is so obvious I found myself groaning out loud and finally quit on it for good.
The Knockout Artist – Harry Crews – What can I say about this one? I hated just about everything about the book’s first twenty-five pages: plot, characters, style…everything. This is a book I actually owned for some reason, and I could not get rid of it quickly enough after reading the pages I did manage to get through. I hate this one to the point that I feel that even talking about at all is more than it deserves.
The Sacrifice – Joyce Carol Oates – Oates is among my five favorite writers, and has been for decades, but this book was about a subject that, these days, angers me: race-baiters who use their minority status for profit with no concern for the innocent lives they may be injuring or ending when they “cry wolf.” This novel revisits the infamous Tawana Brawley case in which a young black girl claimed to have been raped and beaten by white assailants. Of course she had not, but that did not stop people like Al Sharpton from cashing in on her accusations. This fictional account seems to be trying to show how this kind of thing happens and why the rest of us should be more understanding when it does. Baloney. I’m tired of those who work to divide this country along racial lines, be they politicians who do it for votes or race hustlers like Sharpton who do it to line their pockets with cash. I just could not finish this one – and despite my intent to build a complete collection of Joyce Carol Oates books, this one will never grace my shelves.
I'm feeling cranky today and probably should have waited to write this post until I'm in a better mood...