Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania (by Erik Larson)

I wasn't a huge fan of Devil in the White City, so was a little hesitant about this one. But Dead Wake gets everything right where Devil, in my opinion, fell short. In this case, because its two interlocking stories (one about the liner's voyage, the other about the U-boat's journey) clearly and obviously impact each other.

Larson did a meticulous job once again with the research, both strands of the story were equally fascinating, and I couldn't put it down. Not knowing much about U-boat warfare or the Lusitania sinking (such as not knowing exactly when the paths of the two ships would intersect) made it even more of a page-turner. Definitely lived up to the hype.

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The Mezzanine (by Nicholson Baker)

An Ian recommendation (I read it in exchange for his reading Harriet the Spy, which he somehow had never read. He was duly impressed, of course.) I'd been wanting to read this for years, so am very happy I finally picked it up, the first of two airplane reads for our recent trip to Ohio.

It's a slim book, a mere 123 pages, that takes place entirely in the mind of the narrator as he rides an escalator up to the mezzanine level of his office building. It's actually a reminiscence of one time he took the escalator. It's full of musings on the minutia of daily life, and it's wonderfully detailed and textured, very funny, very clever.

In my notes I wrote, "rich specificity, purely enjoyable reading experience." I should also note that it filled me with nostalgia for the technology of yore, which is ironic since the narrator is also musing about the technology of his yore. But it talks about the "While You Were Out" pad, and memos circulating around an office, and other stuff that the Internet has made obsolete. It adds a layer of charm to a book that's already plenty charming.

A++ would read again.

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