The scorpion’s gate

Blech. I happily stranded this poorly written novel after a few pages. Rudimentary dialogue and sentence structure, I felt like I was reading one of my own written-in-6th-grade stories. I am trying to remember why I put this book on my To-Read list; I think Clarke was a Daily Show guest, which piqued my interest.
Syndetic Solutions classifies this as “Men’s Adventure” writing, but I’d have to clarify that as “Men Reading at a 4th grade level’s Adventure.”
A sample of Clarke’s “writing” is below, where you can see his overeagerness in getting into the story. He wants to tell all the details all at once. A better writer would tease us with this info over several pages. Suddenly, in the space of 2 paragraphs, we know his name, his bodyguards’ names, where he is, his title, who he works for, and what he’s done over the last 3 years. Crappy dialogue too… who names the person they are talking to?!
From Chapter 1:
‘Suddenly, Alec, one of Brian Douglas’s bodyguards, was over him. He wondered how long he had been down. Had he been out? “Does it hurt anywhere, sir?” Alec asked.
Brian now noticed that blood was dripping down from his scalp, matting his sandy hair. “No, Alec, somehow my luck has held once again” he said, getting up on one knee, grabbing the overturned table for support. Brian’s head spun like a carnival ride. He tried to wipe away some of the blood and dust and rubble from his face. “Where’s Ian?” For the three years that Brian Douglas had been Bahrain station chief of SIS, British intelligence, the staff at the station had insisted that he take two bodyguards with him wherever he went, driving to and from his house on Manama’s northern beach, going on trips elsewhere in the little country, or visiting the subordinate posts in the other Gulf states.’

Continue reading “The scorpion’s gate”

Grand Canyon

What could have been a truly riveting story of geology, erosion, and plate tectonics turned into a snooze-fest. I struggled mightily for 160 pages, then determined it was not worth the pain of continuing. I’m a huge geology buff when written in a way that conveys excitement and scientific progress. This seemed to be “book report”-ish, with several pages of direct quotes from Charles Dutton’s book on the Grand Canyon.
Basic premise: John Wesley Powell rafts down the Colorado twice and proves that the river cut the canyon, not the biblical flood. One interesting item was that the plateau was formed by the river pushing the land upwards over time.

Continue reading “Grand Canyon”


Blech. Started reading this and struggled mightily. I almost didn’t pick up Guns, Germs, and Steel at the library b/c I was not enjoying this sequel. However, I’m happily enjoying Guns, Germs, and Steel right now– think he put his best work into the first book!

Continue reading “Collapse”


Some good info on how Louie got started in on the trumpet– basically he was in reform school at the time b/c of firing a gun off during a New Years celebration. I had to give up once I found out I wasn’t visiting New Orleans after all. Maybe if I plan a trip back there, I’ll pick this back up.

Continue reading “Satchmo”