Reviews, continued.

Five Moral Pieces. It’s going to be hard to write something to convince anyone to read this book that doesn’t already read Umberto Eco, a writer and professor of semiotics* in Italy. For those of you who have, this isn’t Travels with a Salmon, this isn’t Six Walks in the Fictional Woods. This is five essays about things that piss off Umberto Eco: war, the Italian press, the Catholic church, Fascism, and intolerance. He’s subtle and inevitable. I’m not a big chess player, but he writes like a Grand Master.

New Basics. This is going to be my next cookbook–I only have it on loan from the library. It covers the same spectrum as Betty Crocker, but it’s more playful, more sophisticated (no bullion cubes here), and more inspiring. I have yet to cook anything out of here as given in the recipe, yet somehow that’s a good thing. A collection of recipes that makes you want to cook–and to eat.

The Laughing Corpse. I was introduced to the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novels by two friends of mine, Doyce and Jackie, who bought me the first book in the series. I was unimpressed. Yadda yadda yadda. Nevertheless, when I went to the library the last time, I recalled the effusive praise delivered by the dynamic duo for the series: “Jackie will rip the book right out of my hands…and she doesn’t even like to read!” I think that’s how it went. So I picked up the second book in the series. A big improvement. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not War and Peace. It’s not even Stephen King. But it’s damn readable for pulp horror entertainment. The characters (now that we’ve gotten away from the introduction-to-the-vampire-controlled-St.-Louis thing) are interesting. The bad guys are bad. The good guys are human and have their flaws. The main character, Anita Blake, teeters on the edge, vehemently trying to convince herself she’s one of the good guys…you know, this might turn some people off, but there are better female characters in this book than there are male characters. Eh. Too much gore to be “feminist,” though, so don’t worry about it. The only thing that I didn’t like (and probably never will) is the fundamental writing style Laurell Hamilton uses. Story grammar isn’t scholarly grammar. Even so.

“…By gor’, that’s a blody enormous cat.”

“It’s a lion,” said Granny Weatherwax, looked at the stuffed head over the fireplace.

“Must’ve hit the wall at a hell of a speed, whatever it was,” said Nanny Ogg.

“Someone killed it,” said Granny Weatherwax, surveying the room.

“Should think so,” said Nanny. “If I’d seen somehting like that eatin’ it’s way through the wall, I’d of hit it myself with the poker.”

–Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad.

*Semiotics: The theory and study of signs and symbols, especially as elements of language or other systems of communication (American Heritage Dictionary).