Sunday, August 24, 2008

Possibly the Oddest Two Books to Read in a Row, Ever

What with moving and starting a new job, I have largely been trying to pick books to read that won't be too taxing. I started off with Exit Music by Ian Rankin because I love, love, love Rebus books. Then I read Moral Disorder by Margaret Atwood, which was also pretty damn fantastic. And then my reading went, well, astray, I guess. I've been reading fantastic books all summer, but I seem to be closing the season off with some rather bad picks.

Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik has a story to it for me. It apparently cost a pound and 45 pence and I actually remember that I bought it in South Queensferry, in a second hand shop. It was in my very brief married days - and really, this book purchase should have been a big clue, just look at that title. Anyway, I recall picking it up because it was about book clubs and one of the few things I did beyond eating a lot of Indian takeout and drinking coffee with Jenni during that part of my life was to try out being in a book club. I loved it, actually, though I only ended up attending one meeting. Anyway, as books go, I wasn't impressed. I found the characters interesting, especially Audrey - "the type of person who got away with a lot simply because she refused to ask permission for the priviledge of being herself" - but my god, the writing was bad!
You guys turned me on to the power of book discussion," said Fred. "I even wrote a letter to the president, telling him he should start a monthly book club with all the other world leaders. The only catch is, I get to choose the books for them. The first one would be The Feminine Mystique, the second would be Krishnamurti's Think on These Things, and the third would be Huckleberry Finn."

"Interesting selection,"I said. "Have you heard back from him?"

"Not yet," said Fred. But I'm hoping he'll recognize a good peace plan when he sees it."
It was interesting to see a novel that covers the major societal changes of the sixties and seventies as told by married, middle-class woman. It was curious to see how the movements affected them and their lives.

And from that, I went on to Rip-Off Red, Girl Detective and The Burning Bombing of America by Kathy Acker. I bought this one in What the Book. There is something very satifying about searching for books in secondhand stores. That need to be able to pick out books by titles or covers that speak to you - it's a fine art, one which I am usually better at. It was the title of this one that caught my eye and then reading that an author that I have never heard of was one of the most celebrated authors of the past thirty years had me hooked. Kathleen Hanna's endorsement didn't hurt any either.

Sadly, I wasn't a fan. It's two novellas - the first one annoyed me. It's basically erotica wrapped around a sort-of mystery, mixed in with lots of just random dreams/stream-of-consciousness. The erotica part was actually quite good at the beginnning, but then seemed to all be focused on family members, which is not my bag, baby (as Austen Powers would say.) I actually enjoyed the second novella more - The Burning Bombing of America is just stream-of-consciousness, which I found strangely relaxing and meditative to read. I just didn't feel it worked as well in Rip-Off Red where there was a plot of sorts that I was trying to follow. Anyway, huge disappointment and not at all what I had expected.

In other notes, I feel like I am swallowing knives and haven't done much other than lie around in bed this weekend. Thankfully, Sheila's foam bed thingy is a huge improvement over my hard-as-the-floor matress. Since I'm not as fond of sleeping on the actual floor, I've stuck it on top of the bed and it is about a hundred times more comfortable. No more waking up with a sore back.

Gah, I need to clean. Clean. Must clean.

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