book reviews by Althea

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Motherless Brooklyn – Jonathan Lethem ****

A really well-done mystery, featuring a protagonist with Tourette’s Syndrome. Lionel is an orphan, but when he and 3 other boys are picked at an orphanage to help out a man named Frank Minna, doing odd jobs, his life is changed… Minna’s a small-time mobster, but he becomes a father figure to the naive Lionel. And when, years later, Minna is murdered, it’s Lionel’s unexpected persistence that will lead him to solve the crime – but also lead him into danger from more sides that he even knows of…
The book is really believable – surprisingly so, for one featuring the Mob, a shady Japanese corporation, and a mysterious Zen school… all ties in with violent crime… and it really gives one insight into the inner life of someone suffering from this ailment.


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On Blue’s Waters – Gene Wolfe ****

I’ve read all of the volumes of Wolfe’s “Book of the New Sun,” but none of the “Book of the Long Sun,” which I believe is really intended to be read before this book (and its sequels).
I did intend on sometime getting around to the Long Sun. However, this one was on a birthday wishlist, so it got bumped up! And – it is an excellent book.
The story is science-fantasy – in a far future, humanity has left the artificial world known as the Whorl, and has recolonized two planets, Green and Blue. On the earthlike Blue,
humanity faces both social disorder and the threat of the vampire-like inhumi, invading from Green. The narrator, a man named Horn, is recruited by some powerful individuals to seek out the missing religious(?) leader Silk, and return him to a place where he may galvanize society as a figurehead. A complex and adventurous journey ensues, but the really interesting aspect of the novel is its structure. It’s in the form of a memoir written by Horn. He is not a professional writer, and as he sets down his story, in a rather meandering, prone-to-tangents style, we learn, simultaneously, what happened to him in the past, and what is currently happening to him. It’s a book of clues and gradual
revelations… and a story of character.
Highly recommended.