wombat_socho (wombat_socho) wrote,

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What the well-read wombat has been reading...

I guess the HALO books (The Fall of Reach, The Flood, and First Strike) by Eric Nylund and William Dietz qualify as very pleasant surprises. They basically cover the events that take place in the original HALO game, with some background added that explains where the Spartans (including the Master Chief) came from. I wasn't expecting much when I picked these up, but all three of them were good, solidly written combat SF. To be completely honest, I figured Dietz' novel - the middle one of the trilogy - would be okay since I've read other works by him and not been disappointed, but Nylund's books, well, who knew? He turns out to be every bit as competent as Dietz.

I've always been a big fan of P.J. O'Rourke's, ever since he was the token Republican on the Rolling Stone masthead, and have always gotten a decent quantity of yucks out of his books. Peace Kills is no exception. Parts of it made me laugh so hard on Sunday that people came over to ask what I was reading. It's a bit short, I think, but it's good.

Unfortunately, The New Joy of Yiddish isn't, so much. The key is the understated "Revised by Lawrence Bush" at the bottom of the cover, which imao is false advertising and should read "Rewritten". The original book by Leo Rosten was a funny, easy-to-read introduction to the second language of American (Ashkenazi) Jews, but this new edition can't decide whether it wants to be a scholarly tome or an ad for Reconstructonist Judaism, which pops up in the obnoxiously intrusive footnotes every other page. (One can judge what Rosten would have thought of the Reconstructionists from all the pokes at Reform Jews to be found in the original. They're so numerous as to make Bush complain in one footnote "Enough with the Reform jokes already!") As if that weren't annoying and distracting enough, Bush clutters up the book with the "authentic" spelling of Yiddish words as determined by the YIVO Institute in Israel, which nobody living here in the States really gives a flying fart about, any more than we pay attention to the vaporings of the Academie Francaise when it tells us what proper French is. Hey, we have relatives in Quebec, whaddaya mean we don't know how to speak French? Or, in my case, spell chachma? Adding to the irritation is Bush's rearrangement of the words in accordance with the YIVO spelling, for which he deserves a zetz in tuchis (kick in the ass). Save yourself the annoyance. Go find a used copy of the original; the revision is dreck. Calling it chozzerai would be far too kind. EDIT Actually, the word I was looking for is ongepotchket.

On a happier note, Viz has begun translating Akira Toriyama's Doctor Slump. This bizarre little manga mainly revolves around the misadventures of the genius doctor and his greatest creation, the robot Arale. Lots of the anarchic, slapstick humor that works better in manga (for me, anyway) than it does in anime; who'd have thought the guy responsible for the Dragonball Z manga would have come out with this?
Tags: books
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