In this case, the tears may be just as much for boredom and sorrow, as they are for joy. But two out of three isn’t bad. Here’s my take:
“Cross Country” — James Patterson… Let’s get this out of the way quickly. Pass. I was in need of some adventure reading to take my mind off of business while traveling, and thought for sure Mr. Patterson would not let me down. Wrong. The synopsis spelled intrigue and mystery — with no mention of societal grandstanding. But the book? Right from page one we’re knee deep in the horrendous violence of war-torn Nigeria. My thoughts of pleasurable escape turned into guilt and sorrow for not liking the book. Mr. Patterson has cloaked this mystery in humanitarian activism and set it in DC with a multitude of chapters in Africa. I kept wanting to toss it aside, but was internally torn with wondering whether or not that meant I didn’t care about the genocide and unspeakable crimes happening to those people across the globe, or simply did not like the book. It was incredibly perplexing. Doubling my frustration was the fact that I cared NOTHING about the central character, who somehow survived everything from gunshot wounds to pistol-whipping to starvation and beating in prison to a CIA kidnapping, all on minimal sleep and with nothing more than a broken nose. Oh, and he’s a detective AND a clinical psychologist. In the end, I finished the book and swore off James Patterson for a while.
“World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War” — Max Brooks… A wonderfully sane approach to an outrageous topic. This guy weaves “personal interviews” of WWZ survivors into a global account of catastophic proportions. Some professional reviewers have likened it to a modern day Welles’ “War of the Worlds” broadcast, and I’d have to agree. The realness completely overrides the absurdity of the fact that a Zombie virus has basically wiped out the world, and every country has been forced to deal with their survival separately. It’s an interesting political commentary on our unified response to a global disaster. Take a chance. Read it.
“The Road” — Cormac McCarthy… Since first diving into Mr. McCarthy’s voice with “Blood Meridian” (and yes, I had both my thesaurus and dictionary out the entire time), I fell in love with the guy. His “Border Trilogy” and multiple earlier works are all worth a read. “The Road”? It falls right in line, but surprised me in its hopelessness. It’s hopelessness was beautiful. How do you write that? Oddly, it too, follows a global disaster, and the changes in society and humanity, but focuses on a father and son, and their journey to stay human and reach someplace they really aren’t sure exists — but hope it does — to live in relative safety from the dangers of the new world. It’s heavy-hearted, but not heavy-handed. I admit I’m biased, and maybe I enjoyed it so much just because it was Mr. McCarthy’s next work, and I had been combing the bookstores in anticipation. But I still enjoyed it. And I’d definitely recommend it.