Friday, August 27, 2010

The Claddagh Ring by Malachy McCourt

I feel like I need to take a shower to get the saccharine tackiness off of me. I went to the library specifically to borrow this book because I love cultural traditions...and claddagh rings. I think they are beautifully wrought, and I was planning on giving one to a certain guy for a certain day, but first I wanted to make sure the tradition was what I thought it was. You know how writers sometimes end chapters or books with a lingering phrase that is meant to make you pause and consider what you have have been consuming? Well if you ever wondered what it would be like to read something where every sentence attempts to do that, then give this one a read. I have never been so disappointed in a book in my life. It takes mad butchering skills to take such a potentially great subject and turn it into drivel.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

I really like dystopia novels, especially when they are imbued with a healthy dose of satire. Atwood seems to be asking what happens when people keep trying to outdo nature and turn a handsome profit in the meantime. For every spliced gene and animal re-combination, the consequences cause more problems that keep the cycle circling closer to a fully unstable point. Do not get me wrong, I think scientific inquiry and invention are wonderful and have an incredible amount of potential. Still, I cannot help but think that at some point humans may go too far and be unprepared for the fallout.

"Why is it he feels some line has been crossed, some boundary transgressed? How much is too much, how far is too far."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S.C. Gwynne

People have a tendency to ask me how I can possibly enjoy reading history. Here is an attempt at an answer. History is fascinating because it is not a static subject but rather one that raises as many questions as it answers. Then there is the additional fact that there is so much to learn. There is always a subject waiting in a book that can introduce you to an aspect of life on this planet that you knew nothing about. I had never given Comanches or their place in America's "manifest destiny" any thought before I read this book. I had no concept of the brutality of Plains Indian warfare or the bitter reality the last of the free bands were forced to face. Thanks to Steve for handing me this book as a break from that angry one I am trudging through.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon

Weird book.

The Postman by Antonio Skármeta

One of my favorite things to do is to let a book choose me. I aimlessly wander the stacks at the library and judge books solely on their covers or titles. I skim the back and then let myself make a snap judgment: to read or not to read. Of course this method has varying success. It has led me to some of my all-time favorite reads (such as The Scarlet Pimpernel) and to some that have been so unbearable that I stop reading halfway through. I rarely pick books in this manner since I always have a long mental list things I want to read. But on those weeks when every day feels like the one before, a bit of spontaneity in the form of reading is the quickest way to fix the problem. The Postman is simple; just the kind of book I needed.