Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sunday July 22nd Arts & Books section

There is an article about bookclubs, which I enjoyed perusing. And it made me think of our bookclub a bit because it talks about people being afraid that their book choices will be duds. Their advice: don't worry about it; everyone will be having too much fun being together to hold a grudge. Their tip: Serve extra good food! :^)

There is also an interesting article reviewing a book called God is Dead by Ron Currie Jr. And it is a collection of stories! Can you believe I'm saying it sounds interesting? ;^)"[A] collection of stories which borrows a title from Nietzsche and a setting of the world's worst ongoing genocide - all in a work of fiction that aims to examine the weightiest moral dilemmas of humankind," writes Jonthan Freeman (president of the National Book Critics Circle). "Like Kurt Vonnegut, [Currie Jr.] seems to understand that in the face of grim and grave concerns, humor is a more powerful salt than screed. Still, I can promise you this: you won't be laughing your way to the end of this inspired debut."

What I'm reading right now

Just thought I'd throw this in. Maybe generate some posts about what everyone else is reading?? Besides of course our July book group discussion pick. :^)

Currently I am reading (in no particular order):

Night by Elie Wiesel - His personal memories of the Holocaust and Auschwitz. It's even more haunting, having recently finished Left To Tell: Finding God Amdist the Rwandan Genocide by Immaculee Ilibagiza. What is wrong with humankind??

Absurdistan: A Novel by Gary Shteyngart - This was on the 3 for 2 table at Borders, and when I perused through it, it made me think of John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces. Now that I've delved into it, I would say the Russian Misha (main character) could very well be a close relative of Ignatius J. Reilly's. - The novel is written as [Misha's] appeal, "a love letter and also a plea," to the Immigration and Naturalization Service to allow him to return to the States, which lovingly and hilariously follows Misha's attempt to secure a bogus Belgian passport in the tiny post-Soviet country of Absurdistan. Along the way, Shteyngart's graphic, slapstick satire portrays the American dream as experienced by hungry newborn democracies, and covers everything from crony capitalism to multiculturalism. [E.g.] The ruling class of Absurdistan is in love with the corrupt American company Halliburton, which is helping the rulers in a civil war in order to defraud the U.S. government. Halliburton, in turn, is in love with Absurdistan for the money it plans to make rebuilding Absurdistan's "inferstructure" and for the plentiful hookers who spend their nights and days by hotel pools looking for "Golly Burton" employees to service.

A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton by Carl Bernstein
Love her, like her, or hate her, she makes for interesting reading. Several years ago, I read her personal memoir Living History and then Dick Morris' attack on her, Rewriting History. I feel like she gets judged more harshly than male politicians. "Oh, she's not sincere." "Oh, she's not telling the truth." "Oh, she's just married to Bill to help her political career." Hillary was her own politically-minded person before she ever met Bill; even detractors who know her, acknowledge that. People that judge her on grounds like these. Do they really see the male candidates as sincere, truthful people who are so altruistic that they don't have anything or anyone in their lives because they help them achieve a goal? I say HILLARY in '08! WOO HOO!! ;^)

The Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner and Quincy Troupe
I started this book before seeing the movie. Then I watched the movie before finishing the book. And I have to say, I'm ot sure that I will make it through the book. I haven't found Gardener's life before the movie's timeline that interesting. I've skipped ahead a bit to where he is joining the Navy (something reference in passing in the movie). And I'm not sure when I will pick it back up again. I found the movie interesting and inspiring, but I'm finding the book flat.

Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives by Dan Millan
Again, another book on the 3 for 2 table at Borders ( a personal addiction of mine; I feel that it is just wrong NOT to buy off this table. I mean it's a FREE BOOK!). Millan first published it in 1980, and I have to say that for me, it's inspiration seems a bit dated. Maybe there has just been too much like it in its wake that makes this seem kind of ho hum (of course, I haven't finished it, but it ain't a page turner). My husband Jonathan, who started UCLA in the fall of 1980 told me he was underwhelmed by the book. And he spent a large chunk of his adult life thinking about this kind of stuff. :^)

In Persuasion Nation by George Saunders
"Saunders's vital theme—the persistence of humanity in a vacuous, nefarious marketing culture of its own creation" This book really takes me outside of my comfort zone. First, it is a collection of short stories. I don't like short stories. They are short and leave me unsatisfied with character development. Second, this author and this book are described as surreal, avant garde. Respectable qualities in their place; I ususally don't like them in my reading. Best consumed in small doses.

And of course Harry Potter and the Dealthly Hallows - DON'T TELL ME IF HARRY DIES!!!

Other books that I am really struggling to pick up (has anyone else read them?):
The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai - bought this one because it was getting a lot of good reviews
The MercuryVisions of Louis Daguerre bu Dominic Smith - bought this one because I've become a bit of a historical fiction junky since reading The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson last summer. It's about the man who invented the daguerreotype. And I do love photography.