Sunday, October 15, 2006

Another set of excerpts from BzzAgent to review:
  • Maureen Dowd's Are Men Necessary? : When Sexes Collide

    The first chapter of the excerpt was not terribly interesting to me -- it just went on and on about the same thing over and over (how independent women are not finding relatonships with men). I've never been much for the mainstream dating scene. I find my fellow geeks are generally more interested in intelligent, talented women who understand geek conversation than in the stereotypical bimbo. (Of course, this may be because I select for a certain type in my friends and lovers pretty strongly myself.)

    The second chapter, painting the Bush administration and politicians in general as petty catfighters, was much more interesting and funnier. I like that kind of stereotype-breaking (and anything that makes fun of Republican politicians). If the book continues in a vein like that, I'd enjoy it. From just the two chapters, though, it seems like only a 50% chance that I would. I've gotta agree with the Amazon reviewer Kim Hughes' comment that "In the end, though, one wishes Are Men Necessary? went beyond simply grocery listing examples of sexual disparity to offer concrete suggestions for change."

  • Singing with the Top Down is set in the 1950s and told from the point of view of 13-year-old Pauly Mahoney, the self-designated worrier of her family and eseentially the caretaker of her younger brother Buddy, even before her parents are killed in a freak accident. The four-chapter excerpt only gets as far as the kids' finding out that they will be living with their Aunt Nora, who they've never met before their parents' funeral, and leaving Oklahoma for Nora's California home, but I am genuinely curious about how things go with two scared children and the family free spirit, who decides that the drive to California will be a camping trip to see the sights of the western U.S. and a chance for everyone to get to know one another. Pauly is a very believable voice, the child who has had to be the parent, and I really want to see how her new experiences will change her.
  • I've enjoyed John Hodgman on The Daily Show, but The Areas of My Expertise is the first time I've seen him in print. This almanac parody is definitely a book to enjoy on paper (tables printed in landscape orientation are difficult to read on a monitor where they are sideways). But I enjoyed the bits that were easier to read; I like this randomly wacky style of humor that takes the standard list of plot situations found in all fiction and adds an additional item: "Man vs. Cyborg." It's not for everyone, as the love-or-hate Amazon reviews indicate, but for the right audience it's really funny.