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Jesse Atkinson

jsatk@sfba.club

Joined 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I’m on Mastodon at @jsatk@sfba.social

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2024 Reading Goal

Jesse Atkinson has read 0 of 12 books.

John le Carré: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011, Penguin Books) 4 stars

Review of 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Took me longer than I’d like. Le Carré’s writing can be painfully obtuse sometimes and require a reread. This book seethes Britishness; its prose, how people talk, how people act, etc. Theres almost no actual action and yet it is a thriller. And much like Cormac is to westerns, le Carré is not just writing a spy novel. He's asking the big questions while doing it.

John le Carré: The Spy Who Came In from the Cold (2001) 4 stars

Review of 'The Spy Who Came In from the Cold' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

At times borders on cynicism, but then you have to remember the cynicism of the whole Berlin Wall.

A bit dry and dragging in the middle once Alec begins the 50 pages or so of interviews by Fielder. But man… wow… that ending. The last 30 or so pages really made me go “oh this is why this is so highly regarded”. The conversation in the car between Liz and Alec that, to put it poorly, is about the two sides of the same coin of capitalism and communism is one for the ages. I worried it’d be a little dumb but he never gives in to simple answers and considers how complex people and ideologies in practice are. The disgustingness of working with a Nazi for the greater good doesn’t sit right with anyone, particularly you, the reader.

What a book.

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings (Paperback, 2002, HarperCollins Canada, Limited) 4 stars

Originally published from 1954 through 1956, J.R.R. Tolkien's richly complex series ushered in a new …

Review of 'The Lord of the Rings' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Incredible world building. Incredible story overall. Tolkien needs an editor and needs to take much less inspiration from the KJV Bible. The bad guys in this entire series are two dimensional. The end bit with Saurumon is silly. Sauron remains a mystical almost satanic figure. I knew we didn’t meet him because I’ve seen the movies. But still disappointed.

LotR is great. But very flawed.

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings (Paperback, 2002, HarperCollins Canada, Limited) 4 stars

Originally published from 1954 through 1956, J.R.R. Tolkien's richly complex series ushered in a new …

Review of 'The Lord of the Rings' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Finally done. Got very distracted by the four major video games that just came out and being best man. So long to finish.

Anyways. Reading this it became radically clear this is supposed to be one big book rather than three.

The split adventure format is fun and a nice alternative to the film’s structure.

IDK what else to say. This is amazing. I still maintain it needed better editing. But incredible shit.

Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry, the author of Terms of Endearment, is his long-awaited masterpiece, …

Review of 'Lonesome Dove.' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

One of the few books that’s truly an epic that I’ve read. Just a damn good time. Every chapter a short story. One of the most enjoyable ways to spend 900+ pages.

This is a genre book. Through and through. But it reminded me oddly of Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s in its genre entirely and doing it insanely well.

Charles Portis: Norwood (1999, Overlook Press) 4 stars

Review of 'Norwood' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

This book is so close to being a 5 star for me. But just not quite there. It’s so clearly a radically skilled writer with a distinct voice and vision doing his first novel. This is a book about nothing in the most Seinfeldian sense. And I mean that as a compliment. Portis is interested in atmosphere more than anything. Which I appreciate. Books and movies that are overly atmospheric are risky. But this one works. This feels like “What if Cormac McCarthy wasn’t so fucking biblical and nihilistic? What if he told jokes?”

God I loved this. This is just a nice damn time.

Ernest Hemingway: Fiesta (Paperback, 1967, Pan Books) 3 stars

Hemingway's profile of the Lost Generation captures life among the expatriates on Paris' Left Bank …

Review of 'Fiesta' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Not sure how to feel about that. I read the spark notes after each chapter. Sometimes I flat out disagreed with the observations it made. Regardless. This book is about the most miserable people. But it made me think quite a bit about how I put nearly everyone before myself. I’m rarely selfish. I don’t say that to sound virtuous. It’s just keeping the peace. And making others happy keeps the peace. My own peace be damned. Despite all of these people having absolutely no real anchor they sure know how to do whatever they want. They aren’t quite libertines but close.

It was a good read. But didn’t hit me too hard. I mostly wanted the bulls to gore them all.

Charles Brandt: "I Heard You Paint Houses" (Paperback, 2005, Steerforth) 5 stars

"I heard you paint houses" are the first words Jimmy Hoffa ever spoke to Frank …

Review of '"I Heard You Paint Houses"' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

One of the most fun books I've ever read. Just mind-blowing.

If you like mob shit, American history, learning about guys named "Fat Tony" and "Whispers. No the other Whispers.", unions and their role in modern history (both good and bad), Detroit lesbian taxi cab drivers, what kinda gun you wanna use in what kinda hit, how to conduct yourself during a trial when you are guilty as fuck and still get off scot free... this is the book for you.

Every chapter I found myself texting my history/politics friends and/or boring my wife w/ details.

Maybe the coldest part of the book is on the day of JFK's funeral Jimmy Hoffa says at a press conference, "Well now Bobby Kennedy is just another lawyer." Ice cold.