Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Three reading recommendations

In the past week, I've finished three books I can recommend. Arthur Phillips' The Egyptologist is a great summer read. Told in journals, letters and cables, it is the story of a man, Ralph Trilipush, who is trying to excavate a tomb at the same time Howard Carter is uncovering the tomb of Tutankhamen. Interposed are the letters, written decades later, from a private detective who is on a case that leads him on a collision with Trilipush. I thought the story got a little bogged down in the middle, but the unreliable narrators give this novel unexpected energy and humor.

One of my favorite books this year is Kenneth Oppel's Airborn. Engaging (if uncomplicated) characters, swash-buckling situations (with pirates even), glorious settings beautifully described. The plot hinges maybe a bit too much on coincidence, but this story of an airship cabin boy and the granddaughter of an explorer who find a new species (sort of a flying panther) cries out to be made into a movie. I could see something that uses the same film-making techniques as Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. (Hint to anyone writing a book report on this: discuss the multiple meanings of "airborn/airborne" in the novel).

And finally, check out Jeff Parker's The Interman, a graphic novel with echoes of The Bourne Identity and The Pretender. Van Meach is the product of a Cold War experiment that makes him almost endlessly adaptable, able to grow gills underwater, to shrug off poisons, and survive temperature extremes. OK, so I'm easily charmed by stories of men who can breath under water.

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