Saturday, June 26, 2010

Brave New World

OK, so I'm already done with this book. It's a pretty quick read. Like The Road, it reads a little like a writing exercise (the idea is X, now go!), but unlike The Road, it isn't a complete failure.

"Not a complete failure?" you say, "but it's a classic!" And classics, I say, usually aren't that fun to read. This one was at least engaging. The world that was portrayed had a bit more thought behind it. Character development was really weak, which I could see as part of the point of the book; the characters are SUPPOSED to be weak. Still, I like it when I can really get into the heads of the characters in a book (at least one of them), and that didn't happen at all here.

Impression? I liked it and am glad I read it, and recommend that if you are another of those rare souls that initially escaped this book, you pick it up and spend a couple of hours with it.

Books, books, books

I like to read. I especially like to read while nursing or cuddling kids. I thought: gee, I'm having trouble blogging lately. And then I realized that blogging about my reading for a little while might help me get back into the habit, since it's easy and requires very little creativity, but friends might appreciate it nonetheless.

This week I went through, back-to-back, two of the most disparate books I've ever read. The first was The Road by Cormac McCarthy. The second was Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Unless the second had actually featured rainbows and unicorns, it would be hard to think of a way to put more emotional space between the two.

Let's start where I started: The Road. This book can be described in a single word, and that word is BAD. It's not just a single kind of bad, it's the kind of well-rounded totally bad that I'd be hard-pressed to put a more complicated label on. If I said it was horrible you might think I was referring to the subject matter in a kind of horrible-but-compelling way, but no, it's not. The subject matter is, granted, horrible. It is also incompletely imagined and shock-value heavy; by this I mean that there are scenes in the book that the author describes in ways that maximize the use of disturbing words and subject matter but that contain elements that do not make sense when you stop to think about them - and it's not the kind of book that is complicated that way on purpose. But let's not stop at the subject matter; the writing is also bad. Yes, I understand that our dear probably-mentally-unstable Mr. McCarthy was trying to use a writing device. It didn't work. Screw the author, it's the visionary that read this book and decided to publish it that should get an award. There's no good reason that anyone who reads with any sort of regularity should like this book. I suppose if you read something bad enough, the good stuff seems even better in comparison...but still, whoever read this complete piece of shit book (it took less than 2 hours to read, so maybe the short story category would fit better) and thought "wow, this should be printed!" and later "wow, this should be a movie" TOTALLY deserves kudos for seeing the money underneath all the crap. Yes, yes, I understand the thinking that "a good book makes you think and this book makes you think." This book makes me think about what a load of shit it was, it doesn't make me think constructive thoughts of any variety. Overall impression? Utter crap. Save your time for more pleasurable literary experiences like reading translated technical manuals.


Before I started the second book I read this week, Outlander, I looked it up online in a semi-desperate attempt (because I am not a fan of online book reviews, and now I get to laugh at myself for posting one) to avoid the disaster that selecting based on jacket reviews had caused earlier in the week. "Hard to classify," they said. Well, I have no such problem. It is a romance novel. I don't read romance novels, so you can be surprised when I say that I loved this one. I guess I liked it the way that people like Playboy for the articles or go to Hooters for the chicken wings. I read a romance novel for the phenomenal writing. Because it was, it was, it was. Thank the freaking Lord. After reading my way through the absolutely shitty writing of Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series and then picking up Cormac McCarthy, it's kind of a wonder I didn't give up reading altogether (aside from necessary evils like street signs, party invitations, and text messages). Thank you Diana Gabaldon. You have restored my brain's language centers to balance. And the sex was pretty good, too. Extra points for really good plot devices, not leaving holes in the story, and avoiding "movie magic" writing mistakes. Overall impression? Woohooo, requesting the sequel from the library!

I'm now reading Brave New World. Believe it or not, I've never read it before!

Future reading suggestions are welcome.

Her First Sick

Some blessedly short-lived but super-crappy illness has been running through our family. One person at a time (except for Francesco and Tony, who had it at the same time). Fever, body aches, light nausea, and just feeling TIRED. I am not even sure where in the body this particular bug lives, but it drove Tony to 103.7 "and everything looks purple." Motrin to the rescue! The rest of us weren't hit quite so hard and rallied without drugs within about a day and a half.

Chubble, though, totally hates being sick. She's pretty used to being pampered, I think. She refused to eat (I managed to make her eat once) for 24 hours. No big fever for her (she didn't even break 100). The rest of us had gotten all lethargic and she did too. It SUCKED. I think her being sick might have sucked as much for me as it did for her. Still, she even looked all sick and pathetic. I tried to take a sick pathetic picture, but since she is already about the most unphotogenic baby I've ever met, it just looked like all her other "OMG my baby looks like that? Oh, ok, I'm glad you don't think so either" pictures.

She's better now but still being weird about eating, like she's not sure that's such a great idea until she actually gets started. She won't eat half-awake. I can't get her to fall asleep while she's nursing, which was never one of her strong suits but I could get her down when she was tired. Now it's all about bouncing and rocking and other highly me-awake baby soothing activities. Not cool, not cool. Particularly at 2:30am, which we've done for 2 nights in a row. Please, Chubble, you are 2 months old. You had figured out, finally, when night time was. You can do this. Sleeeeeep.