Thursday, September 29, 2011
Completely random reading
--"The Wind Done Gone": This "Gone With the Wind" parody was a hot talker when it came out in 2001. It's essentially a tale of life on Tara from the point of view of a slave who was the child of Gerald O'Hara and Mammy, who later vies with Scarlett for Rhett Butler's love. For legal reasons, they couldn't use all the names (Scarlett is annoyingly dubbed "Other"). The book started out pretty good but I'm not exactly unable to put it down, so take that for what you will.
--"The Last of the Just": I'm pretty sure we read this either in high school (I went to a Catholic all-girls school) or college religion/theology classes. It concerns the ancient Jewish legend that there are only 36 just men in the world, and crosses many generations in one story where one of those men is always present. That sounds dry, but read this excerpt from one of the reviews: "This was assigned reading for a class on the Holocaust that I took as an elective in college many moons ago. Once I got around to reading it (near the end of the semester, of course), I was completely unable to put it down. I started it on Good Friday and read straight through the weekend. It shattered me. I was flat out weeping as I read that final page late on Easter Sunday (which, as a non-Jew, spun me around into a whole different perspective). I've been teary-eyed over a good book or two, but I had never read (nor have I since) any book that moved or affected me so profoundly."
--"All-American Murder": Yes, I am still a true-crime buff. This is about the murder of Yeardley Love, a college lacrosse player, apparently by her troubled boyfriend, also a lacrosse player. I find the case fascinating but this book didn't really get into it. It seems that her family just would not talk to anyone (who can blame them?) and since the case isn't over (the suspect is in jail, but the trial hasn't happened yet), it just kind of trails off. People! Do not crank out insta-books! Wait until the trial has a resolution, you'll always get a better book out of it.
--"The Postmortal": Drew Magary is a hilarious writer for Deadspin. (He also lived in Minnesota for a while and remains a Vikings fan, so I may be biased.) His novel is about a future in which the cure for aging is discovered. You get a shot and are frozen at a certain age. You can still die -- you can be shot, or get cancer, or die in any of zillions of ways -- but not from traditional old age. Problems, of course, emerge -- from the government at first denying the cure to a woman giving it to her baby so she'll never grow up (this gives me chills to think about) to the creation of temporary marriages where the couple agrees not to commit to each other forever. Magary has a lovely way of making his lead character self-deprecating in a non-annoying way, he's a Joe Average hero who never pretends to be perfect.