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Gloria's Book Club

By Gloria Diaz

Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!

Fort Wayne Reader

2006-01-23


I have strange tastes in literature, but the stuff I read is pretty damn interesting. Here are a few of my favorite books. I’ve read these time and again, and will continue doing so. But if you’re looking for some “Chicken Soup For the Columnist’s Soul” crap, keep looking.

—Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

What happens when a comet slams into the Earth? The survivors learn how to get along without penicillin, and career choices have dire consequences. Survivors from Los Angeles and surrounding areas straggle up to the Stronghold, at the foot of some California mountains. Senator Arthur Clay Jellison owns the Stronghold, and those who have certain skills, or know certain people, are allowed in. Every time I read it, I wonder where I would fit in. I usually don’t like science fiction, but this one is very well written.

—Forbidden Channels, by Penny Stallings

Did Ricky really Love Lucy? Well, on the small screen they did. Offscreen...things were different. This funny exposé on the history of television, the weird decisions when it came to clothing, who wore rugs and who didn’t, actors who passed up or were passed over for plum parts, movies and plays that were ripped off and put on television under a different name with slightly different characters...there’s a lot here that will amuse.

—Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Vonnegut's descriptions never fail to crack me up: the daughter of Billy Pilgrim, the novel’s protagonist, is described as having legs like an Edwardian grand piano; a car accident is described as being a body and fender man’s wet dream. Billy ends up traveling back and forth in time, and is eventually abducted by aliens and forced to mate with a porn star for the amusement of Tralfamadorians, who are watching Billy and Montana Wildhack live together in a glass house on Tralfamadore. I read this whenever I’m depressed and think, “my life isn’t that bad.”

—Invisible Darkness, by Stephen Williams

If you think Canadians are a bunch of harmless, beer-swilling, law -abiding hockey fans, think again. Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, a Ken-and-Barbie look-alike couple from St. Catherine’s Ontario, enjoyed abducting young girls and forcing them to be sex slaves. They videotaped their exploits. Along the way, they killed three girls, one of whom was Karla’s younger sister Tammy. Later, when Karla had been beaten one too many times by Bernardo, she ratted on him. Using the “battered wife” defense, she was able to get a reduced sentence. Most people thought this was a load of crap. After reading this book, you’ll probably agree. Williams watched the videotapes, and describes them in thorough and disturbing detail. You’ll never look at a young, wholesome couple the same way again. A movie about the couple, “Karla” will probably be released soon.

—Tara Road, by Maeve Binchy

Within 30 seconds of reading this book, I was sucked in. The novel chronicles Ria Johnson, her sister Hilary, their mother Nora, and their friends and employers over a 16-year period. You’ll grow to hate some of the characters, feel sorry for others and feel relieved that the luck of the Irish holds justice for some. This is total escapist literature, but in no way trashy. I’ve read this probably six times since I discovered it about four years ago. Of the Binchy novels I’ve read, this is her best. And this actually was an Oprah's Book Club selection.

So pick up a few of these and escape. You’ll be glad you did.

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