Monday, December 03, 2007

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

Well, a week has almost passed so it's time for another book post. Last time I left off by rambling about Michael Chabon and how great he is. There's more of that coming up.

Summer started. And my friend Hedvig brought some of us along to her family's cabin on the most tick-infested island in the Stockholm archipelago. There the ticks attacked us, they crawled all over our bodies and sucked our blood, both in reality and in our minds. We all read a lot there ( all my friends are nerds Mazur). My book was The Best American Non-Required Reading 2006. It made me feel hip and with it. There was a lot of random stuff in there, like 'The best American New Band Names', (and I'm glad to inform you all that yes, God Damn Doo Wop Band was among them.) It really was a great mix, it was quite a luxury to be able to read The Iraqi Constitution, part of the script for Me You and Everyone We Know, Naguib Mahfouz, Haruki Murakami and ' Here is a lesson in Creative Writing' by Kurt Vonnegut all in the same book. Good job Americans! But hey...wait a second. Maybe I'm just a crazy racist, but aren't Mr. Mahfouz and Mr. Murakami...not American....per se? Actually Murakami probably lives in California, but Mahfouz doesn't. I saw his house in Cairo. People told me he lives there and that he's really really old.

So, whilst reading this, I left the Swedish island, with the cold water and the ticks for another island with palm trees and beaches. And really strange pornographic souvenirs. Banana-figurines making sweet love in the shade of colorful inflatable sharks and reindeer. I read Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut ( for the first time) by the perfect pool or at the beach. Every time I glanced up I saw hundreds of bodies all different shades of brown and red and pink. I loved the book more than I had expected, and I appreciated the strangeness of reading about the bombings in Dresden and Billy Pilgrim's time-travel in a place like the Canary Islands. It gave me a good perspective on life or something.

On my way back to Sweden I was reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, the book Michael Chabon won the Pulitzer prize for back in 2001( I think). Even though the language wasn't, in my opinion, quite as good as in the Yiddish... it was a wonderful book about two cousins who create a comic book superhero called the Escapist ( originally it was a Golem) that fights Hitler during WWII. And I think that those three days I spent only reading this book when I got back were the best reading-days of my life. I mean it. I only read and ate sandwiches. And listened to some strange radio program that only plays very old blues all through the bright Swedish summer night. Good times.(I wish I could go back, because now it's the other way around. Imagine constant darkness, illuminated by pathetic Christmas lights here and there.) After that book, I really should have taken a break, but no, I started reading Adrift on the Nile by Naguib Mahfouz. I really liked his short story that I read earlier, so I was pretty pumped. But this book was pretty much only about some Cairo-intellectuals who smoke pot on a houseboat. I liked it at first, but just like with real pot, it can become boring or annoying after a while. So I stopped reading it, and I hate giving up like that but I just wasn't getting anywhere. I'm definitely going to try reading something else by him, he is, after all, a Noble Prize Winner, and I have seen his house. So after that disaster, I went straight back to Michael Chabon and read Wonderboys. I liked it OK. Everybody except me has seen the movie with Michael Douglas so I won't bother telling you the plot. (Should I see the movie? Or is it stupid?)

Next up, wow, the biggest failure of the year. I'm almost ashamed to talk about this, but I started A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf...and didn't finish it. Because I'm a bad woman. It's not even that I didn't like it, I just sort of put it on hold until I had time to read it in one sitting. For some reason that seemed important. And I still haven't read it. Somewhere around this time I also found The Tale of Genji staring back at me from one of the shelves at the bookstore where I work. 1100 something pages, coincidently also written back in 1100 something something. They say it's the first real novel, but there is a big debate going on so we can't be sure. It was a challenge, probably the biggest challenge I would ever have to face. So you know, I bought it. I started it. I bragged about reading it. But then I stopped because it was really heavy and it hurt to read it in bed. I swear that I will read it before I die though. I swear on the Tale of Genji itself.

Bad Luck Dice- Clifford Gibson

Lose Big- Eef Barzelay



Blogger DJ said...

Listen, Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time.

Best first sentence ever. except for maybe "The sky was the color of a television set tuned to a dead channel." from Neuromancer.

I picked up The Best American at the bookstore and flipped through it and the table of contents looked really cool, like what you described. I looked at the "best first sentences of 2006." It made me want to read the new David Mitchell book. I think it was: "Never set foot in my office."

December 04, 2007 7:00 AM  
Blogger ohmygodimmike said...

I never saw that movie with Michael Douglas either. I guess we're losers. I know I've said before (to everyone but Laz)but we should start a movie book club where we will read a book (the first should be "rashamon") and then watch the movie.
and then we can take turns posting about it. SO everyone start reading rashamon.

December 04, 2007 9:25 PM  
Blogger Laz said...

Hey, that is an excellent idea. Rashomon it is. I'll get it tomorrow after I take Aida to a fortuneteller in Old Town. ( This is what we do in the ancient kingdom of Europe..)

December 04, 2007 11:53 PM  
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