What’s More Scary?

I have been in physical therapy for my hip for more than a month now and here’s the sad, sad thing. I don’t feel much different. I still have trouble sleeping a night (last night I woke up every two hours) and runs haven’t been that much easier. I managed over sixty miles for the month and finally finished the dreaded half (the one I have been babbling about for months now. Yeah, that one). I definitely made more time for the books. Here is the ginormous list:

Fiction:

  • Aristotle Detective by Margaret Anne Doody (finished in a week).
  • All Hallows’ Eve by Charles Williams.
  • Discarded Duke by Nancy Butler (finished in a week).
  • Beautiful Children by Charles Bock (AB / print). Word to the wise, don’t do it!
  • Breakfast on Pluto by Patrick McCabe

Nonfiction:

  • Whatever You Do, Don’t Run by Peter Allison (AB / print; finished in less than a week).
  • Sense of the World by Jason Roberts (AB / print).
  • I Will Bear Witness: a Diary of the Nazi Years (1933-1941) by Victor Klemperer ~ in honor of Mr. Klemperer’s birth month.
  • In the Valley of Mist by Justine Hardy

Series Continuations:

  • We are Betrayed by Vardis Fisher.
  • Amazing Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman ( finished in four days).
  • Henry James: the Treacherous Years by Leon Edel (Can you believe I actually finished this within the same month?).

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • Riot Days by Maria Alyokhina (read in four days).

Beautiful Children

Bock, Charles. Beautiful Children. Read by Mark Deakins. New York: Random House Audio, 2008.

Reason read: As some of you know, my cousin was homeless and lived under the neon in Las Vegas. In October of a certain year he was found dead. Beautiful Children was read in his honor, but now I have a new event to memorialize: the Las Vegas concert massacre earlier this month. October is a cruel, cruel month and Beautiful Children is a cruel, cruel book.

I don’t know how to review this book. I was not expecting to dislike every character, even the missing kid, Newell. I hated that I liked him least of all. The premise of the story is twelve year old Newell goes missing on the streets of Las Vegas. Vegas gives Bock a huge canvas to work with. Think about it: the seedy and spectacular people, the gritty and shiny atmosphere, the ever-lurking potential for danger around every corner. It’s Sin City, after all! Bock does take advantage of the expanse of his canvas but not in a good way. It’s almost like he had too much space so he overfilled it with garbage. Story lines are jumbled and discombobulated. Like marbles scattering in a hallway, Bock careens from one time and place to another. Yes, there are criminals, strippers, homeless kids, drug addicts, pawnshop owners, gamblers, sex addicts, comic book illustrators, beggars, liars, thieves…all of them sad and pitiful. The center of this story is supposed to be focused on a missing kid. Yes, the parents are grief stricken and the marriage suffers, but not enough attention is paid to the here and now of that intense drama. Instead, Bock delves into what intense sadness does to to a sex life. There are no FBI agents anxiously hovering over wire-tapped telephones while hand wringing, pale faced parents look on. There are no episodes of pounding the streets, littering them with Have You Seen Me? fliers. Instead, Bock focuses on the underbelly of the beast; a world where pedophiles and pornographers feel at home.

Maybe it’s because I listened to this on audio. Maybe it’s because the sex scenes were practically pornographic. Maybe it’s because the story couldn’t stay linear for two minutes. Maybe it’s because I couldn’t find a character to love or even like. I suspect, if I look for the truth closer to home, I didn’t like Beautiful Children because, for all of his over the top, down and dirty descriptions of Las Vegas, when it came right down to it, he was describing my cousin’s last home. My cousin could have been that homeless kid on page 122.

Author fact: Charles Bock is a native of Las Vegas.

Narrator fact: Mark Deakins has appeared on the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Never saw an episode.

Book trivia: Beautiful Children was Charles Bock’s first novel.

Nancy said: Nancy described the plot but also mentioned the sins in Beautiful Children are not the ones you would expect of Vegas.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the very simple and obvious chapter called (drum roll) “Las Vegas” (p 129).