Books on the train
One of the benefits of riding the train to work each day is the chance to read. I've tried it while driving, but it's just not worth having to pick pedestrians out of my car grill each day.
Margaret Atwood is probably my favourite writer (yeah, yeah, I know, get in line) and as I expected I got a kick out of Oryx and Crake. In lesser hands it could have easily been gene-spliced with political diatribes and monologues, but she make the impact of a genetically enhanced world seem the more horrific by it's many banalities. The protagonist has simple tastes and the subtext of the what the future has become is almost numbing. The story takes place in the future, but avoids the usual trappings of the genre of sci-fi. Namely leaden characters and adolescent plots. Told mostly as memories, it charges forward and keeps interest in what has happened to a world apparently now bereft of people - aside from our hero, "Snowman".
Ben Hamper is a car factory worker from Flint, who chronicles his travails in Rivethead, which is surprisingly fascinating. The unmitigated drinking and goofing off at the factory pales before the sheer weight of the hours pressing down on the workers there, and Hamper makes you feel like you've been pounding rivets all day for GM. His style is decidedly unpretentious and hilarious. My favourite line: "He felt the mouse was mocking the way he did his job". It's eye-opening for those who wonder just how factory work affects the mind...