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Catching up on a few recent reads

Horoscopes for the Dead: PoemsHoroscopes for the Dead: Poems by Billy Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Billy Collins is the former Poet Laureate of the United States and perhaps the most famous and widely read of living poets today. His poems are accessible and very readable, but do not shy away from tough or poignant subject matter. They are also, often, very funny. In this collection, the best poems, like the title poem, deal with death, sometimes grimly, sometimes humorously, often in ways you don't see coming. Highly recommended for those with an interest in poetry or especially those who think they might be interested but aren't sure where to begin.

Leaving the Atocha StationLeaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In this short novel, Adam is a young American poet on a fellowship in Madrid, where he is attempting to immerse himself in Spanish culture and history while becoming a better poet. However, being young, his process involves lots of drugs and alcohol and attempts to sleep with beautiful women. There is some great writing in this book, some funny and poignant moments, some moments are captured perfectly. But I struggled with the main character's immaturity and I found myself often more frustrated with him than amused by his adventures.

Gentlemen of the Road: A Tale of AdventureGentlemen of the Road: A Tale of Adventure by Michael Chabon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Summary from Amazon: "They’re an odd pair, to be sure: pale, rail-thin, black-clad Zelikman, a moody, itinerant physician fond of jaunty headgear, and ex-soldier Amram, a gray-haired giant of a man as quick with a razor-tongued witticism as he is with a sharpened battle-ax. Brothers under the skin, comrades in arms, they make their rootless way through the Caucasus Mountains, circa A.D. 950, living as they please and surviving however they can–as blades and thieves for hire and as practiced bamboozlers, cheerfully separating the gullible from their money. No strangers to tight scrapes and close shaves, they’ve left many a fist shaking in their dust, tasted their share of enemy steel, and made good any number of hasty exits under hostile circumstances. None of which has necessarily prepared them to be dragooned into service as escorts and defenders to a prince of the Khazar Empire."

It is an adventure story, well-written, with interesting characters and predicaments. I often found it a bit predictable, though. Entertaining. The audiobook is read by Andre Braugher, who may have the perfect voice for this story.

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