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Let’s Play Pyramid!

October 30, 2011

Here is a list of four happenings.  Let’s see if you can guess what they have in common – a mini game of Pyramid, if you will.

  1. There is a guy singing the blues outside and he’s driving me nuts.
  2. There’s a girl in a spin class who reminds me of slightly mentally challenged version of Copy Girl on Friends.  You know the one – she sleeps with Ross while he and Rachel are on break (or maybe not on a break).  The girl in spin class is named Susie and can apparently only be pronounced with a squeal.  She also takes up two bikes to stretch so, Susie, if you’re reading this, can you please stay on your bike?  And possibly not squeal your name?
  3. For the longest time, I thought that the random bagpipes I heard on the weekends came from the Irish pub by my apartment.  After confirming that there are no bagpipe players there (except for on St. Patrick’s Day), I am now convinced that someone in a neighboring building likes to practice with their windows open.
  4. Though I counted twice, I still managed to end up with eleven yogurts instead of the ten I was going for.  Please don’t revoke my degree.
Pyramid
Sorry, there’s no prize in this version of the game.

And what do these things have in common?  They are all things that would not happen in The Road.  If you guessed it, give yourself a pat on the back.  No, not literally.

Aside, if you guessed that these are all things that have been bothering me recently, points for trying.  However, this is a blog about reading books.  Use some critical thinking.

I began reading The Road this weekend and I’m about a third of the way through.  It was actually one of two Halloween-ish things I did, the other being watching Buffy the Vampire SlayerThe Road, despite being much less overt, is the more terrifying of the two.

Michelle Trachtenberg as Dawn
The show’s not all that frightening, but Michelle Trachtenberg is always a scary addition to a cast.

While nothing major is happening and it certainly isn’t happening at a quick pace, McCarthy at least had the decency to introduce the two main characters immediately (yes, I’m still upset about Rhett and no, I won’t let it go).  Do I kind of wish I know what they looked like?  Yes.  Though, to be fair, I know the boy has black hair, or at least he had black hair when he was born.

Also, I know that this takes place in a post-apocalyptic America, I’m not sure what the nature of this apocalypse was.  I can only hope that comes out at a later point in the book.

Here’s what I do know: post-apocalyptic America is cold and very grey.  It’s depressing as hell and people are desperate.  And some interesting tidbits about the boy’s mother.  Oh, and that Coca Cola was still around before the apocalypse (thank heavens).

Stories by Number

October 18, 2011

On the bus this morning, I realized that numbers are extremely useful in telling a story.  See Exhibit A, below.

74: The amount of times the bus driver honked the horn this morning on the 15 minute trip from my apartment to work.

3: The amount of SUVs the bus tried to run down.  Each SUV incident contributed roughly 6 horn blasts.

2: The amount of vehicles with sirens the bus tried to cut off.

 

36 Bus
Don’t be fooled – this bus is planning to overtake the car next to it.

 

And here’s where the numbers tell a story called “The Pecking Order of Vehicles According to the Driver of the 36, Southbound”.    At the bottom of this list are cabs – they’re insane, rarely follow rules of the road, and frequently park at bus stops, presumably trying to woo the public transit folk into their far more convenient cab.  Next are other cars in size order with the smallest car being last.  Pedestrians take the next lowest slot.  The only reason they’re ranked higher than any car is because of the legal fallout and the media frenzy surrounding running over pedestrians.  Rahm has enough to deal with.  Then, buses.  They’re large, in charge, and have the honking abilities of a mother goose in distress (I would imagine).  And at the top of the food chain (no, the bus is not at the top), are vehicles with sirens because, try as the bus might, they just can’t be cut off.

 And here’s Exhibit B:

0: number of pages I’ve read of Gone with the Wind since last updating

0: number of Rhett appearances overall

12: number of times I’ve been frustrated while reading Gone with the Wind

 

I could go on, but these numbers are telling this story: I should take a break from Gone with the Wind.  So, as of today, I’m temporarily putting it aside and moving to The Road.  Note the use of the word “temporarily”.  I’ll come back to it eventually.  You can hold me to it.

 Until then, though, there are plenty of other Pulitzer books to complete.  Onwards!

 

Excuse #21 Why I Haven’t Been Making Any Progress

October 5, 2011

Well, let’s get this out of the way: it’s a long book.  It’s a long and slow moving book.  To the point where, when I think about reading it, I simultaneously think of a list of other things I could be reading and choose one of those instead.  New York Times Magazine food issue, anyone?  Did anyone else read that, see the recipe for homemade ketchup, and have to convince themselves that 2:30am is definitely not the appropriate time to make it (plus, the grocery store is most certainly closed)?

 All I’m saying is that, if Gone with the Wind had a recipe for homemade ketchup, I’d be much more inclined to read it.  Does it count if some of the things I’ve read in lieu of the book were written by Pulitzer winning journalists?  On that note, does watching All the President’s Men  count as being Pulitzer-related?  Because, if it does, then I’m right on track.

 Here’s the take-home point: if you’re looking for something that takes its time to develop and doesn’t introduce main characters until over 100 pages in (or maybe more – that remains to be seen), then you definitely want to pick up your very own copy of Gone with the Wind.  If not, then I highly recommend the food issue of the New York Times Magazine.  And you might want to have cloves on hand.  They go in ketchup.

And Here’s… Gerald

September 28, 2011

I’m beginning to make some progress in the book, though that’s not to say I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Rhett yet.  I had foolishly thought, “Oh, I won’t update the blog on Sunday with the hope that I read more of the book and finally get to know Rhett.”  Well, the good news is that I read more of the book.

You know who I have met?  Gerald O’Hara, Scarlet’s father.  Things to note: he’s short, he’s Irish, he speaks with an Irish brogue.  You may think I’ve just described a leprechaun and, to be honest, that might be exactly how I picture him.  A leprechaun on horseback, leaping over fences and having personality traits that are similar to Scarlet’s.

There’s some type of analysis to be had there, I’m sure.  Do you think this turns Oedipal (Wikipedia tells me the female version is called the Electra complex) and Rhett turns out to be exactly like Gerald.

So, take this update as proof of my progress.  Maybe next time, I’ll be able to confirm Rhett’s status as a leprechaun.

Reason #43 Why I Hate Beloved

September 21, 2011

I tried to book cheat, by reading this:

The Blank Slate
The modern denial of my ability to stay awake.
 
 

As it turns out, human nature works better than Benadryl at putting me to sleep – once I’ve read two pages, I’m out.  And that’s on a day where I’m feeling awake.

The point is that, no, I didn’t get much reading done for Gone With the Wind.  And no, I couldn’t even finish the book I was using to cheat on Gone With the Wind (or get past the first chapter, as it were).  But that doesn’t mean there’s no blog post.  In fact, it marks the beginning of the recurring series, “Reasons Why I Hate Beloved”.   And now onto reason #43:

Oprah.

Oprah
Gasp!

 

 

Yes, that’s right, Oprah.  As some of you may know, I can’t stand Oprah.  For those of you who didn’t know, please stop equating this to murdering puppies.  I’m not saying that I don’t think she does a great job with her philanthropic efforts, I’m just saying that she seriously annoys me while she does it.  Also, her announcer’s voice from her (thankfully) ended show?  No.

Anyway, how does Oprah relate to Beloved, besides being the scourge of humanity?  Thank you for asking.  Oprah played Sethe, the main character, in the movie production.   

Oprah as Sethe
It looks like Oprah’s stroking her hair, but don’t be fooled: she’s just trying to hide the girl’s face so she can be the star of the shot.

 

 

Why did she star in it?  Oh, that’s right, because she bought the film rights to the novel and could only picture herself as Sethe and Danny Glover as Paul D.  Despite this, Beloved was actually never an Oprah’s Book Club selection.  Four of Toni Morrison’s books were selections though, so don’t go feeling sorry for her.

And that is Reason #43.  Stay tuned.

 

Are You There, Rhett? It’s Me, Scarlet.

September 18, 2011
Are You There God?  It's Me, Margaret.
Seriously, Rhett. Where are you?

While I had previously stated that I didn’t (and still don’t) know how Gone with the Wind ends (consider this friendly reminder #2),  I do know that it’s supposedly a love story involving one Scarlet O’Hara and another Rhett Butler.  By the time I got to page 50 (which, let’s face it, barely puts a dent in this behemoth of a book), I noticed that Rhett was nowhere to be found.  Yes, that’s right.  Rhett, the supposed male lead in this book, had not appeared yet.

Naturally, I thought this meant Rhett’s name came up and I missed it.  And so began the Great Page Turning Debacle wherein I frantically flipped back through the 50 pages I’d read and scanned each one, convinced that I would find some reference to Rhett.  No dice.  As an aside, when I googled Rhett Butler, I was directed to his Wikipedia page and one of the section titles reads, “Searching for Rhett”.  This is not, as I presumed, a reference to his late appearance in the novel but rather to the search for Clark Gable.  The existence of his page and the picture accompanying it do serve as proof of his existence, a reassuring (albeit unnecessary) fact.

Cary Grant as Rhett Butler
While this may serve as proof of Rhett’s existence, I’m still skeptical.

So, here I am on page 50 now, and still, Rhett is MIA.  What I would have liked to write about today was the beginnings of Scarlet and Rhett’s epic romance, but instead, I guess we’re stuck with Scarlet.

Vivien Leigh as Scarlet O'Hara
Who are you looking at, Scarlet? Could it possibly be Rhett?

At first glance, she seems interesting enough to keep me reading, but not interesting enough to keep me reading for much longer.  Read: if this is a romance, then let’s get to it.  Hopefully, Rhett will have shown up by when I post on Wednesday.  Otherwise, we’re going to have some issues.

Back in the Game

September 14, 2011
I'll Be Back
A case where following in Arnold’s footsteps might be beneficial.


And after a brief hiatus (if six months can be considered brief), I’m back and armed with a list of excuses explaining the hiatus that I won’t be boring you with. You’re welcome. You may also be pleased to note that, in an effort to avoid another hiatus, I have set an update schedule for this blog – Wednesdays and Sundays. So stay turned.

In my hiatus, I managed to finish Olive Kitteridge and begin Gone with the Wind (which will be my next Pulitzer endeavor). As I said before, Olive Kitteridge is a collection of 13 stories taking place in a small town in Maine which involve the character of Olive Kitteridge in some way. Some stories focus on her and others mention her in passing. And that was my biggest problem with the collection – Olive was quite a character and I found that I often wasn’t interested in reading entire stories that merely mentioned her once, maybe twice. It’s like how I feel about Dexter – great show, love Dexter, but I really don’t care about Angel’s love life. Or the Dexter voiceovers, for that matter. Showtime, please take note.


Angel, Who's That You're With?
Right, so Angel’s with a girl. Now, let’s get back to Dexter.

 

It’s not entirely a coincidence that I put the book down (and left it for six months) after reading a story about an ancillary character (see also, excuses for the hiatus).

Now, don’t get me wrong – I liked the book. I find that, given my increasingly shortening attention span, short stories are engaging without being a burden, plus they provide built in stopping points (bonus!). I also really liked how the collection of stories made up the larger story about Olive and her community – for the most part, you can’t read one without the others.

To me, the selling point of this book is Olive’s character and how we learn about her as each story is told. She’s incredibly real and nuanced, but my one complaint is that the character is both larger than life in terms of personality and physical size. Rest assured, I’m not talking Madame Maxime big.


Madame Maxime - More Than Big Boned
Yeah, Madame Maxime’s just “big-boned”.

 

Olive is just a tall, big-boned woman , which is fine, except that it was mentioned several times throughout the book. To me, the physical cue seemed to almost detract from Olive’s character, which was developed so well and didn’t need that crutch. A larger-than-life appearance was too obvious a cue for a larger-than-life personality.

Anyway, I’m not going to go all Reading Rainbow on you and tell you that it’s good, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Even though it’s true.

 

Work It, LeVar
Choosing this picture from the hundreds of other gems is a choice equivalent to Sophie’s.

 

And now onto Gone with the Wind. Just a note: I never saw the movie and have also managed to never find out how it ends. If you ruin it for me, I’ll channel LeVar from Roots.

Kunta?
My name is Toby