Thursday, December 30, 2004

Four Brothers

John Singleton's new film, "Four Brothers," starts filming on Monday, and I was happy to have the chance to read it in its most final form yesterday. Four unrelated brothers of an adoped mother must come together to solve her murder. I'm told the movie will star Tyrese and Andre 3000, but my favorite role will be played by my pal, Josh Charles, who has NO IDEA how I got a copy of the script. Hee-hee-hee!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

American Pastoral

Wow -- okay, it isn't exactly the review that you came here for, but this was a wow read, and completes my "Journey Into the World of Roth" for this vacation. American Pastoral is one of the few Pulitzer winners in past years that I let slip by me, and I let my negative feelings for Roth get in the way of a great and powerful book. The thing that really got me today was the role of the narrator -- I'd love to teach how this narrator establishes himself and then works to establish the world of the novel. By the end, we forget that the world that he has been reporting is a fiction; he states that he can only hope to understand the world of Swede and then spends the novel replacing the idea of Swede in his mind with this fiction. A profound piece of writing!

The Plot Against America

I've got a bone to pick with Phillip Roth, primarily because I knew his father and -- let's face it -- Roth's literary father figures aren't exactly the nicest humans on the planet. "Plot," however, was a fast-paced and interesting read -- exactly the kind of beach novel that one likes to take on vacation. At times both frightening and fascinatingly anti-historically historical, it was a great read and I recommend it. Today, I'm starting "American Pastoral," Roth's Pulitzer prize-winning novel. Hoping it doesn't have nasty dads in it.

Great Neck

Since I grew up in Great Neck, I assumed I would immediately connect to the neurotic and guilt-ridden characters of Jay Cantor's novel. I was wrong, but I did discover a dense and interesting text about the lives of my parent's peers, all struggling through the changing world of the 60's on Long Island.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Imperial Hubris

My Kea Lani holiday friend Barry gave me this book after we finished a long chat on the November elections. "Have you read this yet?" he asked, as he held up the book that would later knock me on my ass. The work, written by an anonymous writer within the US intelligence community is one of the most dense works I've picked up this vacation, but also one of the most worthwhile. I've had several "must reads" on my various lists this year, and can't for the life of me figure out how I missed this book, but let me just say this: I'm better for having read it, even if I'm now quaking in my boots for the ideas presented. A serious and weighty text on America's flawed approach to what we like to call the "war on terror." Read it and be very afraid.

The Light Of Conscience

My friends at Seattle-City Year presented me with this book after I hosted a dinner for them earlier in the year. Written by Bill Shore, the founder of "Share Our Strength," this book is a simple text on a single topic: how simple acts -- born of conscience -- can change our lives. A quick and inspiring read.

The Double

Hold on to your hats for this new tome by Jose Saramago, one of the greatest writers of the 20th (or any other) century. This book is a delight from the first page to the last, and reaffirms Saramago's power as a crafter of words and larger ideas. A must-read for the waning days of '04!

Friday, December 24, 2004

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal

At 440-someodd pages, this comical take on the life of Jesus (Joshua) is filled with sarcasm and wit. While I enjoyed the read -- and its take on the origins of Christianity -- I found it to be about 100 pages too long. That said, it was a quick read, albeit one I felt guilty about.

The Known World

Entering the world that author Edward P. Jones creates is not easy. It is not easy to accept a world of slavery, where freed blacks own slaves, and it is even harder to enter the freely flowing narrative of this Pulitzer Prize winning novel. But what one discovers at the end of the story is the gift of humanity, and a new novel to add to the great American canon.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Reading Lolita In Tehran: A Memoir in Books

This is a remarkable and moving non-fiction work by Azar Nafisi, intertwining the history of revolutionary Iran with some of the most important works of the Western canon. As Nafisi and her students remove their veils and explore texts in her living room/classroom, they make discoveries about themselves as well. A moving and important work that weaves modern history and fiction, bringing the importance of fiction to the forefront of the struggle for self.

Goodnight, Nebraska

A thoughtful and direct character piece reminiscent of Richard Russo, the novel takes us on a journey as our main character discovers his life through the portal of Goodnight, Nebraska. The author spins characters in and out of this well-written story, as we discover life in this small town is anything but small. An enjoyable read!

Monday, December 20, 2004

The Kite Runner

Let me just start by saying that if you don't buy this book, then you are an idiot. The Kite Runner is a masterpiece that left me gasping for air when I put it down. It was sitting pretty far down on my pile of books, but a friend suggested that it was one of her top reads of the year, so I moved it up. Boy, was I happy that I did.

The story Amir and Hassan was one of the most beautiful stories I have read in years. The author is truly a master storyteller and I cannot even begin to convey that this book will stay within me for many months -- or years -- to come. The language, the images, the characters, the story -- all haunting.

Vernon God Little

As I begin my yearly "14 books in 14 days" event, I'd like to pause and thank my friends at the Edmonds Bookshop. MK really knows her stuff and is a delight to talk to. If you like to shop locally, I recommend dropping by and spending some time talking books. And now, on with the show....


The book jacket suggests that the novel will serve as a cross between "The Simpsons" and an evening with "The Osbournes," but I thought that the work was a little sadder and a little funnier than either of those two shows. Equal parts madcap romp and social commentary, the book was a delightfully quick read...if that can be said about a work that deals with school shootings, con men, refrigerator deliveries, and fried chicken. I enjoyed it for the voice of the narrator and the structure as much as anything. A good read.