Sunday, December 16, 2007

2007- the year of books and travel, part four.

I just got back from watching my dear friend Victor's amazing performance in the play Woyzeck by Büchner. I knew it was going to be good but it really caught me off guard with its overwhelming greatness and hilarity, all I could do after was mumble incoherently something about being speechless. Teater Rolf have a blog for those who read Swedish, so check it out HERE. ( If you don't speak this language for some reason, you can look at the few but pretty pictures.)

Back to books. I realized that I actually missed one book in my last post, probably because I was busy bitching about The Boy Who Cried Freebird. That book was Microserfs, by Douglas Coupland. I read that one because my cousin got it for me and because it's about computer-people working in Silicone Valley. It just so happens that he is a computer-guy who works in Silicone Valley, and he actually frequents the same coffee shops as the people in that book. So I thought it was a good way to learn something about my mysterious cousin's life, sort of at least. I really enjoyed the book, but I have to admit that I didn't get a lot of the computer-lingo jokes. The sweet nerd-love made up for that though, because if there's one thing I can relate to it's nerdy love.

My cousin also got me into reading Richard P. Feynman's books, and I started with Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! , which is a collection ( of some) of his many stories as told to a friend. That's exactly the sort of feel you get when you read it too, like Feynman sat down on your couch and started talking about stuff. Working on the Manhattan Project, traveling and learning how to draw ( top-less waitresses). It was terrific! What I liked the most though, was just the was he seems to think so clearly and curiously. While you read his books, it's like you automatically gain some perspective in life. You'll find yourself thinking a shitty situation is fascinating. The only bad thing is that when you finish the book you go back to being and thinking like yourself again...but maybe not entirely.

I didn't know with what to fill the void after this book so I picked up a copy of Gun, with Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem. A book I've been trying to push on people ( DJ) for years. Never recommend a book you haven't read, because it's a really silly thing to do. I didn't think the plot was all that good, but some of the characters were brilliant. They sort of had to be when dealing with a future world where you have evolved animals living with people, like hit man-kangaroos and...I don't know, kittens. Doing human things (!). And gross Baby Heads, who are basically evolved babies. Drinking in their Baby Head-bars. Those guys saved the entire book, because I honestly could not have cared less about what happened to the protagonist- detective.

Well, after this I got Wizard of the Crow by Ngugi wa Thiong'o, only because Perry at work convinced me the cover was really funny and pretty. I'm usually not intimidated by a 760 page book, and this one didn't scare me either. But I couldn't finish it. Even though it's a really funny satire about dictatorship in a fictive African country. It was just too long. Or maybe I just wasn't patient enough with all the parallel stories. It just didn't work out. So the next book I read was sort of a safe bet, The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster. It was a great autumn book, and Paul Auster is sort of my guilty pleasure. Because he is pretty pretentious, but being a hipster bookstore clerk I can't help liking it. It's my job to like his books. And I really really liked this one.

I finished it when I got to Bucharest for the second time this year. Again a big crazy Romanian storm was raging outside my window, and I listened to Bulgarian love-songs on the radio when I started my second Feynman book, called What do you care what other people think? I had gotten it in the Amsterdam airport bookshop during my 4-hour layover, right after a little girl with pigtails asked me if I was a boy or a girl in the women's bathroom. I had a splitting headache and already felt like ripping my brain out, when she fixed her doubtful eyes on me. I asked her if she was a boy or a girl (aha!), which she promptly ignored, probably because it was too absurd for her. (She had pigtails, so who was I to doubt her?) I told her I'm a girl, and asked her what made her think I was a boy. After thinking about it for a while she said " The shoes". So yeah. What do I care what other people think? Probably more than I should, but it is quite interesting that kids being completely perplexed when trying to figure out if I'm a boy or a girl, is now an international phenomenon. The book was great of course, and now I know more about the Challenger disaster than I ever expected to.

When I got back from Romania the new Michael Chabon book was waiting for me at work. Beautifully illustrated, Arabian Nights-inspired Gentlemen of the Road. It wasn't quite what I had expected, but I still enjoyed it. Especially when I read that it was originally going to be called " Jews with Swords". But he couldn't name it that because people thought it was a big joke, even though Jews definitely wielded swords in the olden days. Everybody did. It is a damn catchy title though, so even though I understand why he didn't use it, I still think it would have been worth it.

Right now I'm listening to WHAM's " Last Christmas" on the radio, and I wish I could post a song or two. But I can't because my hard drive crashed last week, and the computer I'm using now is completely empty. Awwww... If anyone of my cobloggers feel like posting an incredible song with this post, go for it.