Book Log – The Lonely Polygamist

The Lonely Polygamist: A Novel by Brady Udall

To cleanse the palate of the last horrible book log entry, I turn to my favorite book I’ve read this year, The Lonely Polygamist. This is the story of a man, his four wives, his 28 children, and a few others. The book is very well written, with rich and well rendered characters. It is funny, touching, and tragic. A very believable portrait of a plural family emerges with all the potential and inherent flaws presented engagingly and sympathetically, but not through rose-colored glasses.

I’ve mentioned before (in my log on The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress) that I have a fascination with alternative marital contracts1. But mathematically, I can’t see polygamy as feasible in a society without corresponding polyamory. The math just doesn’t work out, which of course leads to tragedy in the case of sons of polygamists2. The Line Marriage proposed in Moon still seems like the strongest alternative marital contract I’ve heard of.

I don’t remember how this book ended up on my Amazon Wish List, but I’m awfully glad it did.

1 And like in my Moon book log, I’ll note that my fascination is purely academic, implying no dissatisfaction with my plain vanilla marriage. Vanilla is my favorite flavor.
2 There was a good essay about cast-out sons of polygamists called The Lost Boys that I read a long while back in a Best American collection.

Book Log – And Another Thing

And Another Thing… by Eoin Colfer

I actually have a backlog of book logs to write. But this one has been weighing on my mind.

Because it is so deplorably, offensively bad that I’m afraid I won’t be able to express how much I hate this book. And thus I’ve put off writing about it. Though, it hasn’t stopped me from railing about it verbally to anyone who will listen.

Because this is more than a bad book. I’ve read bad books. They happen. Not every one can be a gem.

But this book was supposed to be the sixth book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy. The frackin’ Hitchhiker’s trilogy. A worldwide phenomenon, for the love of dog.

So, they tapped Eoin Colfer to do it. I read his Artemis Fowl series before I stumbled upon And Another Thing…. It’s mediocre. A few reasonably good ideas poorly executed. Not funny. No clever turns of phrase.

And yet they tapped him to follow the man who wrote one of my favorite descriptive phrases in the history of literature: The Vogon ship “hung in the air in much the same way that a brick doesn’t.”

And what crimes did this pretender commit? First of all, he stole the construction of my favorite descriptive phrase in the history of literature, and botched it. “The [blank] [blanked] in much the same way that a [blank] doesn’t.” I wanted to look up the exact sentence he wrote, because it’s worse than a copy when you actually read it. But I need to write this log and move on with my life.

Second of all, he claims he read the first five books, and they were very influential, but he repeatedly demonstrates that he didn’t read them very closely. He writes a prologue in which he summarizes the first five books and gets it wrong. He claims that the Earth where Arthur meets Fenchurch was a parallel universe Earth he traveled to, and Arthur was lucky not to have run into the parallel universe Arthur there. Which is fine except that the fundamental premise of the fourth book was that the dolphins brought back the Earth and the people on it as a gift. As a thank you. As in, “So Long and Thanks for the Fish”. The title of the book.

Of course, it’s an honest mistake, because part of the plot of Mostly Harmless is Arthur traveling to parallel Earths trying to find one he can settle on. So what if Eoin didn’t realize he was mixing up the plot of two books? It’s fine… if you’re writing fan fiction to be displayed on a little read website, or your sock drawer. And haven’t been tapped to write the sequel to one of the greatest series in the history of Science Fiction. Asshole.

So, these are both crimes. Horrible, horrible crimes. And there are many more. But I’m going to note one more here as the worst of it all.

Cheese puns. The last third of the book is filled with Cheese puns. FUCKING CHEESE PUNS. The last refuge of the comically disabled, and creatively bankrupt. Insult to injury, the whole Cheese God plotline did not even make sense. The writing goes totally off the rails, and is almost unreadable.

CHEESE PUNS! Dozens of them! Shoehorned in in a tortured, forced, unfunny, unbelievably poorly written subplot.

It is said that Eoin had some notes of Adams’ that he based the plot of And on. I dearly want to see those notes. If anywhere in there, Douglas mentions using a bunch of cheese puns, I will eat my hat.

So, in summary, this is a bad book, and an appallingly horrible Hitchhiker book.

Book Log – One Bloody Thing After Another

One Bloody Thing After Another by Joey Comeau

Joey Comeau writes one of my favorite webcomics, a softer world. The comic is an odd picture-with-caption comic, but very funny.

As I like to support webcomics when possible, I had this book on my wishlist, and my wife happily picked it up for my birthday.

I did not know it was a horror novel, but it hardly matters because it’s funny enough to just barely be a horror novel. It’s a horror novel in the same sense that the first Dirk Gently book was a horror novel.

I’m saying novel, but I should say novelette. It’s chief problem is that it is terribly short. As in, I read it on my lunchbreak. And had time left over.

So, if you’re looking for a really short, witty and somewhat horrific summer read, this is it.