Thursday, March 16, 2006

Recently Read Books

There were no posts from early February to early March on this blog, so here are some very brief thoughts on books that were actually "finishable" (not a real word.) Roger Rosenblatt's Lapham's Rising has been favorably reviewed, but the reviews didn't really catch the feel of the book. Eccentric recluse Harry March's peace and quiet in his island home in the Hamptons is ruined by the construction of the Mother of all Mac Mansions, a testament to the tastelss materialism of its super-businessman owner. Most of the dialogue is between Harry and his talking dog Hector, a born-again evangelist with much more conservative views than his owner who reviles the consumerism and conspicuous consumption of the average Hampton dweller. In that sense, the book has some of the themes of Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities, but edited down to a small and manageable size. The title and themes of the book are a reference to William Dean Howell's The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885) in which Silas, a wealthy business man, builds a huge mansion but in the end has turned into an ethical man.
Carl Hiassen's Stormy Weather also features a hermit character, former Florida governor now known as "Skink," who is completely disgusted by the rampant materialism and destruction of the environment in his native Florida. Like Rosenblatt, Hiassen's satire makes a point in a very funny and entertaining style. Take a look at Hiassen's website for a list and descriptions of his other hilarious books and an interview with the author.

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