15 August 2008

In-transit: Books Read in Limbo

I'm still working through Moby Dick, about which I can currently say the following:
  • It turns out that this Melville guy writes extremely well. Fascinating.
  • Moby Dick is a laugh riot. Seriously. LOL.
More on Ishmael later.

But as I work through the dense and rewarding Moby Dick (I must be weird because I really like the chapters where he narrates encyclopedia entries--oo! Cuvier! Love it!) I am reading other things along the way. Plane flights and the seven-hour-long wait for the movers (no joke) helped in this. (I would be blogging about that but I'm not yet in a place to do so. Grr.)

Submarine by Joe Dunthorne
I would not have found this book were it not for my friendship in Swansea with the author's parents, and I'm glad that they told me about it because it's a wonderful read, tightly written, and perfectly captures what living in Swansea near the Gower feels like. The protagonist is a mid-teen boy who psychoanalyses his parents and is worried they are headed for divorce (he attempts to take action to avert this in his own hilarious and awkward way). Meanwhile his own life is taking new directions, as it does in the mid-teen years. To call it a coming of age novel would be to over-genrefy it (not a word) and therefore to miss the subtlety, cynicism, and wit that Dunthorne puts into the character and his parents. Featuring Rhossili and Llangennith, as well as Walter Road and other locales, so for Swanseaites, or those who for some reason (!) visited Swansea and also read this blog (why would that be?) a good read. [side note: Joe's mother was careful to point out that the novel is not (NOT!) autobiographical.]

A Dog Year by Jon Katz
Our old friends from F'burg, now living in DC (well, MD, but close enough), with whom we would trade dog-sitting duties and walks to the dog park, recommended this one, not because it is high literature but because it fundamentally gets the relationship we have with our dog and they had with theirs (Molly, sadly, passed on to glory two years ago). They also gave it to their vet when she failed in every way to get that relationship as they were making the difficult decision to put Molly down. A great plane read. Takes about an hour, and if you love dogs, this is it. Bonus: may explain a lot about the authors of this blog to those who do not get dog people.

Zodiac by Neal Stephenson
We picked this up on our recent trip to bookstoreville (aka PDX), where the used selection and the manageable store size at the Hawthorne Powells can't really be beat. Stephenson writes well--his Snow Crash rocked. This one is less good, but is interesting on a number of levels. Writing is still tight. The main character is a bit of an ass, but not so much that you hate him, so that works. And it's written in a particular moment in the history of the US environmental movement (mid/late 80s) when ecowarrior didn't mean an SUV-driving mountain-climbing organic-food-buying consumer but meant, well, a warrior who fought for enviro causes (I'm not angry, I'm just sayin'). Post-hippie, but still enough of that to give the book flavor. Set in Boston and featuring evil corporations, debates over whether simply exposing them does any good at all, and a thriller-type storyline that's pretty fun to follow. Bonus: protagonist is a chemist! cool! After you've read it we can discuss the rest of my review--no spoilers...

There may be more but I can't remember them at this stage (not a good sign). Three for now is enough. Back to the high seas and the search for the great white one...

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