Friday, January 27, 2012

Tinkers by Paul Harding

Tinkers by Paul Harding

George is dying and Tinkers takes us through his few remaining hours.  He lays in a hospital bed in the middle of his living room being watched over by people he no longer knows.  His life randomly flashes through his mind as brief vignettes each giving the reader a special view into his heart.

The writing is superb, no wonder Tinkers won the Pulitzer Prize.  With pain numbing drugs swirling through his body, we experience his dying days for ourselves.  George's home is crashing down around him.  Lumber and plaster crashing from the ceiling landing inches from his bed.  All the while his beloved clocks tick, tick, tick soothing him back to sleep.  He loved tinkering with clocks.  Clocks filled his workroom in the basement.  People sought him out from miles away to fix their beloved clocks.

Entwined with George is the story of his father who deserted the family after biting George during an epileptic seizure.   His father too had the meticulous habits of a tinkerer.  Through the mind of a dying man, we can learn the purpose of our lives.

Tinkers is wonderful.  No wonder it captured the Pulitzer Prize. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Pale King by David Foster Wallace

The Pale King by David Foster Wallace

I'd read the buzz about this book.  A novel about the IRS is right up my alley being that I'm a tax geek.  Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I enjoyed dinner conversation with a relative who thought that a book he'd read by David Foster Wallace was the best and most interesting thing he's ever read.  I like reading works by brilliant writers.  Combine brilliance and a story about the U.S. federal tax system and I didn't need any more convincing.

I knew going in that The Pale King is an unfinished work found after the tragic suicide of the author.  I read all the disclaimers about how it was lightly edited and remained very close to how the manuscript had been found.  The roller coaster ride began on the first page.  The IRS agents are riding around in Mr. Squishy ice cream trucks that had been seized.  An agent is slumped over his desk, dead for four days and no one noticed.  The author's own experience of being mixed up with a higher ranking agent of the same name is hysterical. 

I read a review of The Pale King that said you needed to work really hard at reading this book.  I have to agree.  The characters are rich and interesting.  The story line is loaded with fresh prose and dialogue.  But after awhile I failed to find any connection of the large cast of characters to any kind of plot.  That's not a criticism, it's only that it's an unfinished manuscript.

I got alot out of this book.  If you want to invest your time in reading it, be prepared to work at it.  It's definitely not a light beach read.  Be prepared to invest your time and energy. You'll need it.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Decisions, Decisions.

I found it hard enough to resist all the books I'd never heard of when my sister gave me the list of the best books of 2011 according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  I immediately looked them all up on Amazon trying to figure out the least expensive way to get them on my Kindle.  In case you haven't figured it out yet, my Kindle has become my new bookshelf and is quickly filling up with unread books.  At least they don't take up as much space as the paper versions and aren't visible to those who think I spend too much money.

And then the USA Today came out with their list of best book of 2011.  Surprise!  It's a completely different list than what they're reading in Cleveland.  I examined the list.  I know Stephen King is an excellent writer, but I don't really feel like reading about the assassination of JFK.  I would probably learn alot from 11/22/63 since I was 8 years old on that day and still vividly remember that day but from a child's point of view.  I had to watch a funeral on TV instead of Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade during that long weekend off from school.

The Leftovers is a book I've often browsed at the bookstore. A story about who's left after the rapture has little interest for me. I fully intend to go along when the rapture occurs.  And as much as I love Tina Fey, I can't stand that cover of her on Bossypants, with those great big arms.  It reminds me of the Seinfeld episode when Jerry can't get past the man hands on his new girlfriend.  I'm a cover girl after all.  If I can't get past the cover, there's not a chance I'm looking inside the book.

Three down, seven titles left on the list. Not wanting to be left behind, the rest magically drew me in.  I loved The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga so when I realized a new title, Last Man in Tower was written by him, it immediately went on my list.  As did a couple other books like, To Be Sung Underwater and Catherine the Great.  Once the longing for a new book started, I couldn't stop it's pull on me.

Now I'm left with a Kindle and a gift certificate to Barnes and Noble, I got for Christmas.  Oh why do they have to make this so hard for me!  Bound books that need room on the shelf, or secret digital editions that no one will know about except me.  Gifts card or credit card charges.  Decisions.  Decisions. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Two Thousand Twelve or Twenty Twelve

Yesterday on the Today show, Lester Holt and Jenna Wolfe decreed that they should say 'twenty twelve' from now on.  Two thousand, twelve didn't roll off the tongue as easily.  Fine by me. 

Then I ended up on Fox and Friends.  They too were having the discussion of how to pronounce the new year.  They broadcasted that the proper way to say it is 'two thousand twelve', agreeing however that it was a tongue twister. 

Do we have nothing better to discuss on the news?   Honestly, for the start of new year, I should be happy there isn't any tragic or heartbreaking events to report.  A topic as nonsensical as this at least gives us all a reprieve from Newt and Mitt tromping around the state of Iowa.  This election is going to be brutal.  I have a feeling.

We didn't say 'one thousand nine hundred and ninety nine', did we?  Talk about a tongue twister!  For one hundred years we said 'nineteen forty four' or 'nineteen ninety two' for whatever year it happened to be.  There was no discussion.  I see no reason we should have to vote on this topic.  It's 'twenty twelve'.  Short, sweet, and to the point.

Have a twenty twelve full of love, hope, prosperity and good cheer! Happy New year, everyone!

City of Thieves by David Benioff

City of Thieves by David Benioff It's World War II in Leningrad, Russia.  17 year old Lev elected to stay behind in the city when h...