ringing in ’08
Posted December 29, 2007on:
There was a time when thinking of ringing in ’90 was almost incomprehensible to me. That was around 2nd and 3rd grade. Now ’08 is coming and I was just thinking to myself the other day how fast the calendar flipped through since ’00. That’s no cause for feeling somber at all, though. This holiday vacation has been a cold and wet one so far (thanks god for that, the heat was getting to me down in L.A.) but I hardly miss the parties I am uninvited to. I’m well stocked up with books, enough to ring in the new year and still have plenty spilling into the first month. The huge stack is just for the effect, as you can see quite a few of them are repeats. I’m done with:
The Saddle Bag – a good read. It’s the sort of book that is excellent when you talk about it or analyze it; it would definitely make you sound quasi impressive when you give a review to another willing pair of ears. But it is also good when you enjoy it quietly by yourself, on the kitchen floor of an apartment at 2 a.m. waiting for the sticky rice to get sufficiently steamed. That’s not saying much about its contents at all isn’t it?
Three Cups of Tea – I strongly recommend this nonfiction book to anyone who cares. It is quite well written, and Greg Mortenson is a fascinating character to me. It’s about an American mountain climber who stumbled into a remote Pakistani village and it changed the course of his life forever. The part about him typing 580 letters touches me.
Abide with Me – I mentioned this book before. I recommend it. It’s a well-written book, with a very strong central character. The climax won’t let you down, and it does offer spiritual insights, even if you don’t believe in God.
Where I was from – I gave up trying to swallow this Didion book. It’s not badly written, but somehow the subject of California history in this book puts me to sleep. I think I like California in the hands of John Steinbeck better.
The Year of Magical Thinking – getting through this book was tough. It was very well written, but I think the pain of Joan Didion is still too raw, and it somehow hits too close to home for my comfort. In this book , Didion describes her life after her husband of ~40 years died of a heart attack, right in their home. In the book, she poses the question of how do you go on living as a stand alone individual after the one whose life has been so intimately woven into your own for most of your life abruptly left it? It’s hard getting through the book because Didion herself had no answer. She spent one year trying to undo time, fighting her instinctive tendency to relive the past when she wasn’t alone. I recommended it to Son, since a lot of the book is about her dealing with her daughter being in various ICU’s, and her perspective as a family member.
Currently on to Cancer Ward. Son asked, “Who is it by?” I said it was written by a famous Russian guy named Solzhenitsyn. Son said, “Oh yeah, he’s the author of ^!$$%^#$%! and %$$Q^(DAF” (quoting something equally incomprehensible).
Me: Huh? I don’t know who this guy is. Did you say gulag?
Me: as in the soup?
Son: yes, soup
Me: he’s into that sort of thing?
He’s not very helpful. Gulag is not a soup, as I’ve now realized. Should have baked him that banana ketchup cream pie.
The book, in translation, is an excellent read so far. See you in 2008. Unless I have something else to say between now and then. Which is probable.
P.S. What looks good but tastes nothing like it? Something quasi Thai pulled from the web. I saw a picture and was impressed, made the sucker, and that was basically where my good feelings left me. At least it was still a salad. Healthy!