Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What I've Read - Thai mysteries, Buffy and The Question. Oh, and enlightenment.

Bangkok Haunts by John Burdett - third in a series of mysteries set in Thailand [which is kind of synchronistically appropriate as I head there for a few days next week] this continued in the vein of the earlier books, in that it was excellent, and I enjoyed it a great deal. Mysteries + cultural exploration + in this novel, a smattering of the supernatural. Really good stuff.

From The New Yorker
Sonchai Jitpleecheep, the hero of Burdett’s Bangkok-based thrillers, is a unique police detective. A Buddhist as closely attuned to karma as to crime, Sonchai is profoundly aware that the latter is only an expression of the former, and, accordingly, he finds answers in places that logic-hampered Westerners would never know to look. In his third adventure to date, a murdered prostitute proves to be—even more in death than she was in life—a femme fatale of special magnitude. As in previous episodes, the pleasures derive less from Burdett’s baroque plotting (in this case including former Khmer Rouge hired killers, a pornography ring debased even by Bangkok standards, and a death by torture involving elephants) than from the vivid portrait he paints of contemporary Thai life and mores.
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No Future For You (Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Volume 2) by Brian K. Vaughan, Joss Whedon, Georges Jeanty, Cliff Richards, Jo Chen - Volume 2 of season 8 continues, written by the talented B.K. Vaughan with continued "showrunning" by Whedon himself. Excellent art, and this volume gives you a Faith/Giles arc. Which, you know, rocks. Continued excellence for Season 8.

Eisner award-winning writer Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina) tackles Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight with "No Future for You." When a rogue debutant Slayer begins to use her power for evil, Giles is forced to recruit the rebellious Faith, who isn't exactly known for her good deeds. Giles offers Faith a clean slate if she can stop this snooty Slayer from wreaking total havoc - that is, if Buffy doesn't beat her to it.

Everyday Enlightenment: The Twelve Gateways to Personal Growth by Dan Millman - There's probably no better author, imho, who takes the big picture philosophical issues and breaks them down to street level brass tacks. While nothing will ever match up with my first read of Way of the Peaceful Warrior in high school [god, almost 20 years ago?] I've gotten valuable stuff from every book of Millman's that I've read. This one included. Good stuff.

Turn everyday life into a spiritual adventure. Dan Millmans Twelve Gateways to Personal Growth uncover the hidden purpose of life, a road map to the higher reaches of human potential. Everyday Enlightenment shows how to, discover your worth, energize your body, tame your mind, trust your intuition, accept your emotions, face your fears, illuminate your shadow.

The Question Vol. 2: Poisoned Ground by Dennis O'Neil - Volume 2 of Denny O'Neil's groundbreaking late 80s Question run. Immensely enjoyable and thought provoking back then, it remains incredibly solid to this day. I'd daresay it doesn't show it's age at all. And along with Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, taught me both that comics could be mature literature and shaped my thought processes, philosophically speaking, for years to come. Through those three I had my first tastes of both zen and existentialism, which remain with me to this day.

...collecting the 1980s adventures of The Question, the faceless, morally conflicted avenger based in corrupt Hub City! A martial arts master, The Question delved into Eastern philosophy as he battled crime and the crooked politicians of his hometown.

In this second volume that collects THE QUESTION #7-12, The Question tracks a killer to a distant island prison and becomes involved with a gambling crimelord.

And reading Volume 2 prompted a re-read of DC Universe: Helltown by Dennis O'Neil - his modern day prose re-telling of the same basic story covered in three years of the comics, just published last year. Continued awesomeness.

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