Friday, June 25, 2010

What Am I Reading?

The Thorn Birds (1977)
By Colleen McCollough

I’ve had the book for years, since picking it up in one of my usual HUGE bundles of used books at our local used bookstore giant, Bookmans. If you live in Tucson or Phoenix, Bookmans is like an institution for book lovers.
They actually carry more then books—a whole lot more.
Games, video games, comics, CDs, LPs, cassette tapes, sheet music, art books, art, antique furniture, musical instruments…pretty much, you name it, and they carry it. It’s a great system old Bob Bookman created way back in the 80s. He takes in people’s used items and gives them cash money or store credit for it. I used to work there; it was a dirty job, but one that had some great benefits for someone who loves books and music. I never had much of a paycheck because I spent most of the extremely small check on merchandise. At the time I worked for them, Bookmans knew the kind of people who would be willing to work for such a pittance. No one complained about the tiny paychecks because it was like having a direct pipeline into coolness of the first degree. You wouldn’t believe the things I got a chance to see working there. One of the most memorable was:
Amazing Fantasy #15

I held it in my hand. For a comic fan, this was like holding the Holy Grail.

Anyway, I’m about 200 pages into this modern classic of love and danger in turn of the century Australia. A great period piece, but also a very strong character novel, filled with some rather risqué subject matter, such as incest, loss of faith and adultery. Sounds more like a bodice ripper, right? Well, maybe some would see it as such, if it weren’t for her solid storytelling style.
I have several of McCollough’s novels, including TIM (1974) and a few of her MAN OF ROME series, all of which are somewhere in my thousands of books in my insane TBR pile.
One of the things author Colleen McCollough is well known for in her books is the extensive research and historical accuracy.
So far, I’ve whizzed right through the previous 200 pages mainly because McCollough builds some sympathetic and true to life people for her story. It’s easy to fall in love with a story with strong, true to life characters. If the book continues at this pace, I’ll probably list this as one of my favorite reads of 2010.

--Nickolas Cook

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