Monday, August 20, 2007



Trying to get my brain moving this morning. Seen at Sheila's.

What are you reading right now?

Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything. I'm liking it, and I feel like I'm picking stuff upbut it's still not grabbing me 100%. I read it in short bursts. I do like the little snippets of trivia in there:
[The Reverend William] Buckland was a bit of a charming oddity. He had some real achievements, but he is remembered at least as much for eccentricities. He was particualarly noted for a menagerie of wild animals, some large and dangerous, that were allowed to roam through his house and garden, and for his desire to eat his way through every animal in creation. Depending on whim and availability, guests to Buckland's house might be served baked guinea pig, mice in batter, roasted hedgehog, or boiled Southeast Asian sea slug. Buckland was able to find merit in them all, except the common garden mole, which he declared disgusting. Almost inevitably, he become the leading authority on coprolites--fossilized feces....

I'm also reading a fun little post-apocalyptic gem called Earth Abides, by George Stewart. Guy wakes up after a snake-bite induced sick to find that most of society has vanished due to a plague. My kind of stuff.


During lunches at work, I'm reading The Code: The Unwritten Rules Of Fighting And Retaliation In The NHL. I picked it up after Emily highly recommended it. Call me a very casual fan of hockey, but I've enjoyed the insight in this one...I love the intricacy of the retaliation in the game, over the course of a single contest, a season and even a career....

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?

I dunno. I've been lent a couple here lately. I'd never read Breakfast at Tiffany's but borrowed it from my sister and brother-in-law. And I've got a book of short pieces by Flannery O'Connor, most of which I'd never read, sitting on my coffee table right now.

What magazines do you have in your bathroom right now?

I did have the issue of Entertainment Weekly with the guys from Superbad on the cover, but I seem to have become so engaged in an article that I carried it away from the commode.

Which lead to something of a problem this morning as I had a few minutes to ponder. For want of something to read while taking the kids to the pool, I read the back of the case of the DVD of Once Upon a Time in Mexico, which I've been watching on the portable player as I get ready for work.

What’s the worst thing you were ever forced to read?

I had a Pop Culture class in college, and we had to read a romance novel. I don't remember the title, though Janet Dailey wrote it. (Looking through Amazon, it's either Rivals or Heiress...) I remember finding my copy at a used book store for a quarter. I've never thrown a book across a room as many times as I did that one.

It was one of those moments where I said "this woman is putting crap out and selling tens upon thousands of copies, and I can write circles around her...."

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?

I really enjoy the work of a guy named Ferrol Sams. He's an old Georgia doctor whose narrative style is akin to your grandpa telling you stories sitting out on the porch. His stuff is fiction, but it's very much autobiographical. It's beautifully written stuff...he could write for pages about almost nothing, and I'd read it twice, just for kicks.

He's also got a sneaky, bawdy sense of humor. He'll be telling this beautiful story about life in South during the Great Depression, and he'll punctuate it with a paragraph about how his father enters the scene with an obnoxious fart brought on from the previous night's alcohol binge.

I recommend the Porter Osborne books, which start with "Run with the Horsemen."

Admit it, the librarians at your library know you on a first name basis, don’t they?

I haven't been my local library since they moved to their new building. Seven or eight years ago.

I quote Sheila: I'm a book buyer, not a book renter.

Is there a book you absolutely love, but for some reason, people never think it sounds interesting, or maybe they read it and don’t like it at all?

We were just talking about this the other night. Christmas before last, I gave my friend Jill The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. I thought it was great...I just liked the way she wrote. But neither she nor her husband got much out of it.

I'm also always recommending Joe Lansdale, a favorite writer of mine. A friend of mine didn't reading anything else of his after reading a copy of Freezer Burn we found on a remainder table. Now, I liked Freezer Burn, but I'm finding that even among folks who like Lansdale, they don't like Freezer Burn. (I do, rather a lot really).

Do you read books while you eat? While you bathe? While you watch movies or TV? While you listen to music? While you’re on the computer? While you’re having sex? While you’re driving?

Yeah to some, no to others.

When you were little, did other children tease you about your reading habits?

No, but that's the advantage of reaching your full height by the time you're 14 years old. I was a head and shoulders taller than most of the kids I knew. And by the time they started catching up, most of my friends read, too.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down?

Jim Norton's book, Happy Endings is hilarious. The night I got it, I ended up sitting up until three finishing it.


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