I finished the two books that carried over from 2004, so I'm officially working on the 50 Book Challenge now. All I have to say about Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is that it would be worth reading entirely for the footnotes, and the footnotes aren't the best part. As for the other book, Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction, I found it very interesting for its discussion of fairly abstract arguments about the just distribution of resources in society and rather illuminating in its explanation of Feminist political philosophy, an area which I had essentially no knowledge of and found more interesting than I had (prejudicially) imagined. However, I did find it odd that there was no examination of foreign policy from a political philosophic perspective, as if philosophy had nothing to add in that area. For that matter, it is unclear how applicable any of the philosophical positions discusses are to the full range of policy issues examined in standard political debate.
Book 1: The High Window
Chandler, both here and in other of his works, seems more interested in writing descriptions of people and places than he is in the actual mechanics of mystery. This isn’t a criticism, because many people can write mystery novels, but only Chandler could give us Phillip Marlowe’s idiosyncratic view of the world. Chandler does an excellent job of establishing Marlowe’s perspective and transporting the reader into it. He even manages to make a lot of the hard-boiled dialogue come off as if people really spoke that way. One thing that didn’t work for me in the book was a sense of time passing. The plot unfolds in only a couple of days, but there seems to be far too much packed into it. Characters meet each other, interact, develop relationships, etc. These relations between characters seemed like they just spring out of nowhere. Every time there’s an explicit mention of a particular event only having happened a day before or just that morning I was thrown off the flow of story because it seemed like the event had happened much earlier than the book explicitly says it did.
I’m probably going to be reading through a large chunk of the Chandler oeuvre at some point in this challenge.