Thursday, April 22, 2010

Last night I finished The First $20 Million is Always the Hardest by Po Bronson.

More accurately, I finished re-reading it, since this is one of my favourite books.

I read the book first in 1997, while working on my MBA, before I moved down to Silicon Valley and before the dot-com boom and bust.  Moving to Silicon Valley added a new layer to the book for me, since I the locations changed from generic mental images to real memories of actual places.

This book, along with Bronson's other novel, Bombadiers, is a rare beast - a work of fiction that is about business.  It follows some engineers who split off from a foundation to start their own company, and their rivalry with the top designer from the foundation.  It has a very light, comedic touch but still has some emotional resonance and interesting characters, similar to some of the works of Douglas Coupland.

Sadly, Bronson has moved away from fiction writing.  His non-fiction works have all been excellent, but I would trade them all for some more novels any day.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I finished Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow a few days ago.

I've read a number of Morrow's books, mentioned here, here, here, and here.  This one is different from all of those.  His other books are heavy on the philosophical discussions and implications, while this one feels like a much lighter weight, and shorter, satire.

It's set just before the end of WW2, and postulates that the US had developed Godzilla like creatures that it might need to unleash on Japan since the atomic program isn't going well.  An schlock horror film actor used to portraying monsters is recruited to give a mock demonstration to the Japanese big wigs. 

The book follows his adventures leading up to the demonstration, and afterwards. 

It's a fun romp, particularly if you're a fan of early monster movies.