The Last Days of Night starts not with a bang, but with bright sparks and a POP. What follows is historically accurate and gruesome enough for a zombie flick.
Author Graham Moore shrinks this tale of the patent wars between George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison and hangs it over a coat hanger constructed of the imagined biography of a real couple, a young New York lawyer and a celebrated opera singer. Also, J.P. Morgan, Nikola Tesla, Fisk College, Niagara Falls, a glittering New York City, and Alexandra Graham Bell.
Our hero, Paul the lawyer, on behalf of inventor Westinghouse, tries to counter the machinations of inventor Edison. Paul gets played. Then he gets wise.
This story rattles straight down the tracks like the locomotives pulling one of the many trains Paul boards. Each of the seventy-two (yes, 72!) brief chapters starts with a quote from an inventor or scientist. The narration itself shares this bent toward the contemplative even as it moves right along. Paul’s interior monologue is often insightful.
Abrupt jumps between chapters/scenes can be distracting. And my pleasure in reading was interrupted by wondering which parts of this historical fiction were real and which parts were invented. (The epilogue clears up this up.) To me, the build-up to the climax was somewhat mechanical, and the conclusion itself was a bit too feel-good to be true.
That said, it’s a good read: Titans of Industry brawl across the North American continent like Godzilla vs Mothra!
After every mass shooting, the cry goes up: Why does this keep happening? Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment is aimed right at naive gun control advocates.
Roxanne Dumbar-Ortiz packs a powerful explanation into these two hundred pages. You may already be aware of the historical events here, but after this book you will no longer see them as isolated incidents, anomalies outside our country’s march toward liberty and justice for all. This relentless account is a kick in the solar plexus of that comfortable mythology. The book is one bloody scene of genocide and corpse mutilation after another, with context. [If this blog had sound effects, there would be wails and sobbing here.]
Loaded not only opens your eyes, it rips off your eyelids you can never not see this stuff again. You may not agree with Dumbar-Ortiz’s explanation of how we got where we are — but you won’t forget it.
Any book that can make me see Henry Kissinger as an affectionate friend instead of a comic book villain is a book worth reading! Losing Mum and Pup, A Memoir is that book.
I was no fan of William F. Buckley’s syndicated newspaper column. His over use of five-cylinder words came across as sneering to me and I didn’t understand the underpinnings of his viewpoint. But his son’s novels? Christopher Buckley‘s fiction is funny.
So when I saw the younger Buckley’s name on the spine of this book at Book People, I plucked the book off the shelf. I thought I would enjoy it. I did.
The Buckley’s knew people whose names I know only from the news. Christopher Buckley brings them to life, including his famous father and much-loved mother. Looking back through the lens of this book, I can almost see W.F.B.’s long words as humorous and almost see where he’s coming from.
Losing Mum and Pup is funny. It is touching. It is as real as can be. And it includes one reason the Viet Nam war extended into the Nixon years. All very nice.