I read two other books for The 1965 Club that I wanted to post about. The page count of the two books COMBINED is only a little more than half of the total page count of The Magus, which was refreshing. I read both in a matter of a couple of days. Also, both are by favorite authors of mine:
At Bertram’s Hotel by Agatha Christie is the third to last of the Miss Marple mysteries. It is probably not the best jumping in point for any reader who is new to Miss Marple since it is fairly slow and the murder comes only very near the end. Miss Marple, however, is my favorite of Christie’s detectives and I unreservedly love all the books which feature her. I just wish Christie had written more Marple mysteries for me to enjoy.
The story is that Miss Marple spends a fortnight at Bertram’s Hotel as a gift from her nephew and his wife. Miss Marple spent time at the hotel as a girl at the turn of the century and at first is delighted to discover that the establishment is practically unchanged since the Edwardian era. There is quite a bit of discussion in the book about how times have changed, in particular how young women of a certain class are not looked after by their mothers as they should.
However, soon our elderly sleuth starts to notice that the hotel is too perfect …or rather a facsimile of an Edwardian Era hotel; she begins to wonder what the hotel is fronting behind its facade. Meanwhile, the London police are also taking a closer look at Betram's since it has been linked ever so tenuously to some recent heists. But it isn’t until absentminded Canon Pennyfather, who was staying at the hotel, goes missing that the mystery really starts.
by Kurt Vonnegut could have been written today it many respects. It is an angry satire about greed and America. But it was to me mostly message and not a lot of story. Personally I think Slaughterhouse-Five and/or Cat’s Cradle are better crafted. But this short book might be like music to your ears if you are left-leaning and appalled by the lack of compassion in much of the current political scene in the West.
The story (what story there is) is about two men named Rosewater. The first one is Eliot Rosewater, who is the beneficiary of an enormous corporate trust fund, the Rosewater Foundation, which he is barred from managing but from which he reaps the cash rewards. The other man is Fred Rosewater, a distant relative of Eliot, who sells insurance and while not poor, is decidedly not rich. An ambitious lawyer working at the Rosewater Foundation realizes that if he can get Eliot deemed incompetent and convince Fred to sue as the legitimate recipient of the Foundation’s funds, he (the lawyer) can make a pile of cash on the lawsuit and subsequent transaction.
There is a lot of quotable stuff in this book, but the t-shirt slogan and truest message of the book is this one, when Eliot is asked how he would baptize children. This is pure Vonnegut:
'Sprinkle some water on the babies, say, "Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule I know of, babies-: God damn it, you've got to be kind.'"