I’d heard about it, but it just registered today that Michael Crichton has a new book out titled “Next.” My first impulse was “yipee!” because I’ve a long history of reading the readable writer: “Andromeda Strain,” “Terminal Man,” “Jurassic Park,” “Lost World,” “Westworld,” “Congo,” “Airframe,” “Timeline,” even the rather tedious “Rising Sun.” All were easily digestable romps of various entertainment value.
But then I remembered that I’d sworn off him after reading last year’s “State of Fear.” Nevermind that it sought to debunk global warming as a hoax (as I’m always game for alternate points of view), it just sucked as a novel. Its plot was half-baked and half-assed loaded with cookie-cutter characters led by an entirely unengaging protaganist â€” a fish-outta-water lawyer who somehow manages to survive everything from a plunge into an Antarctic cravass to cannibals while never rising above boring.
I actually finished it despite hurling it and its abject propagandizing across various rooms on several occasions, and when I did I pretty much divorced myself as a reader of his stuff. Thus the initial excitement I felt upon hearing he had something new out was quickly quelled. But I do find a measure of glee in the title of his current release, because it’s exactly the way I feel.
And next on my list (having just completed John Grisham’s oddball “The King of Torts”) is a venture into Norman Klein’s “The History of Forgetting: Los Angeles and the Erasure of Memory,” which has been on my shelf for several years. As a never-ending student of this city I’m always interested in examinations of it and this one looks rich.
From the back cover:
Employing “docufables,” a distinctive mixture of fact, half-truth and fiction, Klein takes us on an anti-tour of downtown L.A. He investigates the lives of Vietnamese immigrants in the City of Drems and playfully imagines Walter Benjamin as a Los Angeleno. We observe close up the demolition of neighborhoods by urban planners, TV’s misrepresentations of the Rodney King uprising in 1992, the effect on public consciousness of eathquakes, fires, racial panic, and the way in which crime novls make L.A. slums seem like abandoned cities in the Central American jungle.”
First published in 1997 (and reprinted in 2003; which is when I first learned of it), Klein’s work obviously predates the present renaissance downtown is experiencing and so his point of view might not jive with what’s happening down there, nevertheless it looks like a compelling study.