Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Reading again

Slow reading start this year. It was that Golden Notebook, it made me lose my incredible pace. That doesn’t matter though, no one thinks fast readers are cool. I sure as hell don’t. Actually I do, but a while ago this man bought some 20 fantasy books, and while he was paying for them he started bragging about what a fast reader he is. He said he’d read like, I don’t know, 400 books or some other ridiculous number, over the past year. He was really proud. And I said ”wow”, followed by thinking ” how sad”, because I’m a mean bookstore clerk. And then I realized that I totally would have thought he was cool if those books hadn’t all been, oh I don’t know...Brethren. I guess I need to be nicer.

I started out by reading this book called Ladies by Mara Lee. She taught/ teaches at a writing-school where some of my friends have gone the past few years and they’ve all spoken about her with enormous respect. The book was about the superficial pretentious Stockholm art-scene, worshiping beauty, and the complicated relationship between 4 women who’s fates are all entwined. It was very cleverly paced, jumping from girl to girl, back and forth through time. It’s been a while since I read a book with that kind of captivating rhythm that made me read it practically non-stop. It was a well-written, intelligent book, but I don’t know if I think absolute beauty is really that interesting. I guess it's always relevant, even though I have a hard time picturing it. (It did feel good to be able to make the connection with The Picture of Dorian Gray though.) A super funny part of Ladies was when one of the women (this otherworldly beautiful goddess) had an orgasm from looking at one of Yves Klein’s paintings. It was just. So. Perfectly. Blue.

Kimya Dawson- Blue Like Nevermind

Prince- So Blue

After that I read Heart of Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov, which is this short little book that he wrote in 1925 but which remained unpublished in the Soviet Union until 1987. The story is about a stray dog who, after having been scalded by a mean chef, meets one of Moscow's most outstanding doctors. The doctor takes him home and after gaining his trust, transplants the testicles and pituitary gland of a recently deceased man into our poor canine hero. Now this might sound like a fantastic idea, but it doesn’t turn out so great. Instead of getting a talking, thinking cute little dog, the doctor and his assistant watch him change into this semi-hairy, alcoholic, swearing dog-man with communist sympathies, and it’s hilarious.

Johnny Cash- Dirty Old Egg-Suckin' Dog

Kenny Ball and His Jazzmen- Midnight in Moscow

Sometimes I like to pretend I have a plan with the order in which I read the books, but I’m not a very strategic person so it never really works out. There’s no real connection between Heart of a Dog and A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka. I read her second book, Two Caravans, last summer, (remember those chapters written from the dog’s perspective and how, awesomely, he talked only in caps. Heeeey...I guess there was a dog-connection between Bulgakow and Lewycka). Anyways, this book was also good. It’s about a middle-aged Ukrainian woman living in the UK who has to make peace with her bitchy older sister to save their old eccentric father from the young Ukrainian gold-digger with huge boobs that he marries after their mother dies. She talks like this ”This is what I want say you bitch vixen no-tits. You have no tits, you jealous”. Great stuff. I was thinking that being Romanian and all I should start busting out the dead-on, really mean, Eastern European insults. They’re just so too the point and crushing, but I don’t know if I’m not too swedefied to pull it off. Something to think about. Even though the book was really well-written (great accents), and I find the perspective of Ukrainians in England really interesting, it did drag on for too long and it sort of lost it’s momentum after about two thirds.

The Best American Non-Required Reading 2007 was next. There were a few things in there that made me laugh so hard I teared up while riding the buss. It was The Best American Article Titles from The Best American Trade Magazines. (Like Herb Quarterly- Thyme Out! What the herb experts aren’t telling you). But, all in all, I'm not sure the selection really was as good as last year. I feel like that is a whiny thing to say though. Because I’m suspecting I didn’t feel that way before I read "Sore Eyes- The Reader Geek's" amazon-review of it. I didn’t want to listen to him or her. But his or her words just got stuck in my brain, and basically ruined it for me. So I have no opinion. Except that the whole first section was great and that the Middle American Gothic- article was wonderful. (Brian Green’s dangerous idea-presentation of the Multiverse, blew my mind of course. And made me feel like finishing my essay was no longer important.)

Next was Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. I’m really excited about him because he's really starting to grow on me. And there’s still a ton of Vonnegut-books that I haven’t read, so now I know I can just pick one up when I need something really good, right? (Are there ”bad” Vonnegut-books that aren’t worth reading?). One really cool thing about reading Cat’s Cradle after reading Feynman’s stories about the Manhattan-project was realizing how well Vonnegut portrayed the archetypical scientist in Hoenikker, the father of a dwarf, of a nerdy guy, an according to Vonnegut freakishly tall girl (6 feet), and the atomic bomb.

Thats it. I’m going to bike down town and pick up my copy of Daniel Levitin’s This is Your Brain on Music, which my incredibly talented cousin/piano-goddess Oli recommended to me. Also, I have to tell you that sadly, I'm failing Experimental Music and Sound Art. Maybe that book will help my brain somehow.



Post a Comment

<< Home