Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Forest Full of Trees: Nowhere To Run

If a book has a number on the spine, it's probably considered genre literature.  Sure, some mainstream writers return to same characters over and over (hello, Rabbit), but to show their seriousness they don't get numbered.  Being in a genre imposes certain constraints; readers have expectations that must either be met or confronted.  And a series builds its own guidelines, so that by the fourth or fifth book the reader can make assumptions about who is in jeopardy and what fates the bad guys can expect.

I've only read two books by C.J. Box, both Joe Pickett stories, and I have little sense of the rules he sets for his series, and even less sense of the rules of the genre (modern western? gritty ranger dudes?).  This gives me a sense of wandering in the woods at night, vaguely aware of large trees somewhere about but not really sure where they are unless I stumble into them.  Meanwhile I just watch post-L'Amour Joe Pickett do his ranger thing with the help of his computer savvy wife and for his three mainly off-page daughters.  In Nowhere to Runhe does access his only super power: his friendship with outlaw and serious bad-man Nate.  But I like the transparent writing style, with Joe finding it important to do the right thing, whether that is enticing his daughters to eat breakfast or trying to cite libertarian mountain men for fishing without a license.  I'll probably eventually pick up another of these books, since the library likes to dangle them in the quick-pick section.

Tragically, the book takes places entirely within Wyoming, about the only midwest state I already have for my 50 States challenge.

Today I also did something unusual; I put down a book and decided not to read it.  I had grabbed Germline (The Subterrene War) from the library because the Big Idea seemed interesting, but my intense dislike of drug addicts kept me from enjoying it.  I really hope my kids don't get heavily into drugs, because I doubt my sarcastic contempt will come across as supportive.  I didn't want to spend that much time with T.C. McCarthy's protagonist, and I gave myself permission to just walk away despite the interesting things it was saying about cloning, war, and reporting.

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