Monday, March 29, 2010

Stone Soup

Day 48 of the "What are you reading, and why?" project.

This will be another hodgepodge, random potluck of what people are reading. Michelle is reading John Grisham. Judy is reading Inklings by Jeffrey Koterba, a memoir by a cartoonist with Tourette's, about his challenges with that and with his father, compared (by Amazon) to The Tender Bar, by J. R. Moehringer, a memoir about a boy sort of raised by a "bar" of kind, drinking men. I would like my father, who had a similarly challenging father, to read that one.

Kevin said he was reading The Amazing Life of Oscar Wao, but I have a feeling is really reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, a novel about a scifi/fantasy nerd from the Dominican Republic. That boils it down rather too much, around a sinking stone, so to speak (of soup), as the novel sounds very funny, poignant, and probably oddly informative as well, spelling out the significance of the fuku curse on people who tangled with dictator Rafael Trujillo.

In fact, descriptions of the style of this book remind me of the mixed hilarity & poignancy of Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, not to mention some other "dick lit" guys.

Which leads me to Zachary Mason and The Lost Books of the Odyssey, a novel that is "intertextual" with Homer's Odyssey, without requiring that you know the epic to appreciate the novel (just as you don't have to have read all the Gospels or the entire New Testament plus some Buddhism to appreciate Lamb by Christopher Moore). I'm not calling this dick lit; I'm just noting that some might, based on the incorporation of humor, a male main character, and one (female) reader's reference to Odysseus as a "real man" (in the way Jesus was in Moore's novel) with flaws. Another reader compares Diaz to both Neil Gaiman and Jorge Luis Borges, which prepares us for a real treat--good storytelling and metafictional labyrinthrian twists and turns.

Bob is reading The Lost Books (now or soon), so perhaps he will tell us more about it. He was, at last report, just finishing up The Diviners, by Rick Moody, which more than one reader compares to The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen as being a novel with edgy humor and the oomph of social criticism. In The Diviners, Hollywood takes the criticism.

Which makes one long for simpler pleasures, sweeter entertainments. Fortunately, Beth is reading Spread a Little Happiness: The First 100 Years of the British Musical, by Sheridan Morley, the son of comic actor Robert Morley.

And that's enough for this pot of stone soup.

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