I don't read books nearly as much as I should. With all the baseball, tv, music, and movies that I am determined to consume on top of the internet, newspaper, and assorted periodicals that I read, I marvel that I can actually find time for anything else. Youthlarge is not allowed to comment. I tend to read whatever people lend me or buy for me. I have stacks of books that I haven't read but for some reason, it doesn't bother me in the way that some other things do. I realize that there just isn't enough time to read everything I want to so I don't stress about it. If only I could take that attitude to other things. Anyway, here's a rundown of what I've been reading the past few months.
102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers - Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn
A gift from my sister
Not necessarily a beach kind of book but if you are looking for a page turner, I couldn't put this book down. Obviously, I am quite obsessed by 9/11 and I was fascinated by this book. Dwyer and Flynn do an amazing job of putting together a minute by minute account of what happened inside the towers based on phone calls, e-mails, rescue operation transcripts, and interviews.
We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories From Rwanda - Philip Gourevitch
Borrowed from Unwellness
After reading this, I felt like I had a much better understanding of what happened in Rwanda. Gourevitch weaves his own observations of Rwanda after the genoicide with interviews and a concise historical background. A very good book.
Running With Scissors - Augesten Burroughs
Borrowed from Youthlarge's co-worker Christy
Burroughs' memoir about his fucked up childhood. Mix David Sedaris with Paul Feig with maybe a dash of JT Leroy and you end up with this book.
The Lost Legends of New Jersey - Frederick Reiken
A Youthlarge purchase
Both Youthlarge and I fell in love with this book. Set in the 80's in Jersey, this book is about a high school boy, his crush on a neighborhood girl rumored to be the daughter of a Mafioso, the pathetic story of her parents, and the protagonist's tangled home life. One of the best recent fiction books I've read. The little details are well-written, the sense of loneliness and longing permeate every page, and the characters are interesting.
The History of Korea - Djun Kil Kim
Bought for me by Youthlarge's dad
Even though I haven't learned to speak Korean yet, I at least read this book. Or most of it. Interesting history but kind of textbooky. If I hadn't read this, I might have gotten in big trouble with the family.
Da Capo Best Music Writing 2003 edited by Matt Groening
A gift from the parents of my 2003-2004 class - back when gifts acceptable at my school.
Some really fun writing, some kind of boring writing.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx Is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City - Jonathan Mahler
Shawn's profession hooks her up with many books. She sent me this one a few months before it had come out. How exciting!
This book tries to piece together many different aspects of 1977 and tries to weave them together into a larger cohesive tapestry. I'm not sure that all of the pieces necessarily fit together but the story is interesting nonetheless. However, as a baseball fan I think I would have rather just have read The Bronx Zoo. And the Son of Sam stuff is old hat as well. But the political stuff was fascinating as were sections on the blackout and the riots.
Meat Is Murder - Joe Pernice
Borrowed from Jeremy
Part of the 33 1/3 series of books. Each book is about a different landmark record. This is the first book I've read in the series and it was really good. Rather than write about the album itself, Pernice writes a fictional story about a high school kid in 1985 who is obsessed with the Smiths' album. It completely evokes a 1985 feeling of high school loneliness, alienation, and confusion.
The Plot Against America - Philip Roth
Borrowed from Alex J.
I have read seven of Roth's books and I feel like I am barely scratching the surface. As Alex commented, Roth's storytelling just seems to unfold naturally. Roth has been writing forever and you feel like you are in the hands of a master as you read his books. This one tells the story of what might have happened if Lindbergh had been elected president in 1940 instead of FDR. There have been other books and movies about what might have happened if Germany had won the war but this book is different. Roth has other things on his mind than describing the hell that would have been unleashed if Germany had won. Instead, he wants to study the insiduous nature of how our country could begin to unravel and to turn on Jews in a matter of months. The scary part is that it all seems so realistic.
Of course, as more and more rights are stripped from the people, the government tells more and more lies, and the All-American Lindbergh flies from state to state in The Spirit of St. Louis to give speeches in his flight suit, there is an obvious parallel to today.
*** PLOT SPOILER AHEAD ***
As I read, I kept wondering - "Is Roth really going to have concentration camps set up and set in motion the extermination of the Jews? Is he really going to have Germany win the war? Where is he going with this?" So when I finally got to the end, I was initially disappointed. Rather than have the seemingly inevitable take place, Roth instead rights the American ship. Roosevelt gets reelected, Pearl Harbor happens a year later, and the course of history stays the same.
After thinking about it for awhile, I don't think that this was a bad ending. Roth wasn't interested in writing an alternate history. He wanted to show how the plot could easily dupe Americans into giving away their rights because of fear. He wanted to show his faith in the system (Are you listening 2005 America?) to correct itself, and he wanted to tell a good, realistic story at a certain place and time that wouldn't have to change the course of history within its pages. A stellar book.
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