Archive for the ‘Books’ category

Book ReviewS: Ellison, Hosseini, and Klosterman

September 22, 2008

I’ve been trying to read ad much as I can despite the hectic past few weeks.  No time for long reviews, so I’ll get right to the good stuff:

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison.   This book tackles some really deep subject matter, including race relations, religion, vigilantism, and moral and political corruption.  Everyone can take away something different from it, or even totally disagree on what the message is.  This classic is as cerebral as they come, and finishes with a flourish.  Take your time with it and read it real slowly…point being that you should read it.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.  This book lives up to, if not exceeds, the hype.  It’s a beautiful story and is written so well that you don’t mind, or even notice, the melodrama.  The plot focuses on the growth and trials of a young man in the context of post-Taliban Afghanistan.  This one is definitely a tearjerker…I’ve heard.

 But unfortunately the movie sucked.

Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman.  I’m about halfway through this one.  I was trying to read something different from the usual fiction novel, and as an analysis of how our current media-drowned generation is so profoundly influenced by pop culture, this book fits the bill.  It’s meant to be funny, and succeeds at times, just enough to keep me reading.  But Klosterman tries way too hard to make his insights more dynamic than they really are…he basically discovers the origins of the universe by comparing the characters from different seasons of The Real World.  I’m finding that I skim through to the parts where he talks about sports or something that I have a particular interest in (like his funny anecdotes about how even as a dork he has been able to lure chicks into bed using his mastery of wit and pop culture innuendo).  Not great so far, but suitably entertaining.

I’ve been reading these between my subscriptions to National Geographic and TimeOut NY, and of course my constant companion; Lonely Planet:Turkey.  Can’t wait…

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The holy-crap-its-already-August Round Up

August 4, 2008

The summer is flyin by, and I’m not happy.  Gotta make the most of it while we can, folks.  Ive been trying to, but that’s only part of the reason why Ive been seriously slacking with the posts…believe it or not, Ive actually been busting my ass at work.  Despite my best efforts to evade acknowledgment and remain anonymous in all aspects of the company other than the payroll, word got out that I actually exist and have the capacity to tackle a larger workload.  Sons of bitches…

Here’s another patented ramble to update you on my life, and ruminations on everything relevant (to me) outside of it:

•Just back from a weekend down on the Jersey Shore, where I stayed at my friends awesome beach house.  Saturday was a fucking monsoon and I got kicked out of the water because the sissy lifeguards were afraid of the raging lightening.  Wimps.  Sunday made up for it though…started the day early and got in plenty of sun, and my arabian skin did great under the pressure (I only used SPF 8 sunblock).  Came back to work today lookin extra crispy, wearing white to accentuate the contrast, which made all the home-bodies in my office hate my guts.  Mission accomplished.

•Reading Things Fall Apart right now.  It was assigned in college but I Sparknote’d that biatch.  My friend Andrew gave me a spare copy and I thought I should actually read it, being it’s a classic and I haven’t read any other books set in Africa.  More to come on this.  No spoilers, please.

•I lost my phone in a  taxi after it fell out my pocket.  No one called or tried to return it.  I hate that.  Ive found phones before and went to crazy lengths to get it back to the owner.  Feels pretty crappy, cuz I know someone found it…  Ah well, I have insurance cuz I know I always lose or damage my phones; the list is pretty impressive.  I’ve dropped a phone down a sewer grate, in the toilet, in four feet of snow and couldnt find it, one fell on the street and got ran over by a truck…I could go on for a while.  That’s why I am the only person in the world who has no interest in an iPhone…I know Im gonna lose that shit in a week.  Not much of a gadget person anyway…long as I can make a phone call and it’s smaller than the one Zack Morris used to pull out of his ass in Saved By the Bell,  then I’m all good.

•SPORTS. Ok, plenty of quick thought, cuz each is deserving of it’s own post…  Brett Favre is a selfish bastard and the Packers are assholes for now declaring that he can compete for the starting QB job, after all this freaking talk about being committed to Aaron Rodgers.  They totally gave in to this drama queen.  They drafted Brian Brohm because Favre said for the 716th time that he was definitely hanging up his helmet.  He put the Packers in such a bad spot, and for that reason alone they shouldve had the stones to move on.  Federer is losing his #1 ranking, but is still the best player in the world.  I think he’s gonna bounce back in a big way, and people are nuts for prematurely predicting his demise.  Manny to the Dodgers is good for both teams. He is gonna play great there (a motivated Manny is the most dangerous hitter in the league), and the Red Sox dont deserve the negative backlash theyve gotten since the trade.  That team won 2 championships because of team chemistry, and Manny gave up on them and called out management on a daily basis.  Francona is the best skipper in the league and he needs respect from everyone in his clubhouse.  They gave up a lot, but in getting Jason Bay and ridding themselves of a clubhouse cancer, theyre a contender that will only get better.  Team USA basketball is looking great in their tuneups, and D-Wade is STRAIGHT UP NASTY.  Do not sleep on this man!!  He lost some luster in the eyes of many the last two years because of serious injuries, but somehow he looks more explosive than ever and has been their #1 highlight reel so far (and he’s a only sixth man).  I’m not afraid to say it: USA Basketball is gonna dominate the Olympics.  Write it down, bitches.  Ron Artest to the Rockets?  I’d be lying if I said I’m sure it’s gonna work, because Artest truly does deserve his rep as a headcase.  But the conditions are as good as they can be, as he’s playing for a coach who he actually respects, in a system he can benefit from, will be asked to contribute offensively and handle the ball at times, which will make him happy since he’s always clamoring about not being utilized offensively, and Shane Battier can come off the bench as a top sixth man who can play multiple positions.  The Rockets are my fav team after the Knicks, and, if by some strange turn of events the Knicks do not win a championship this year, I want the Rockets to go all the way.  T-Mac is too damn good to never get out of the first round. 

•McCain is a dirty bastard and his attack ads are ridiculous.  Trying to knock Obama as a leader by comparing calling him a celebrity in the likes of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears?  That shit is weak.

What a loser.  Later y’all.

Turkish Sidebar

April 1, 2008

Forgot to mention a few relevant notes about the trip to Turkey:

What freaking continent is this country a part of?  The guide says that Turkey is part of both Europe and Asia, a division marked by the Bosphorous Strait.  That leaves the vast majority of the country in Asia, including the capital.  But Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey, lies at the crux of this division. Turkey is listed as a European nation almost everywhere on the web, and has a recent political history of making a concerted effort to make it into the European fraternity.  I’d like some answers.

Travellers all over love to debate as to which guide books are the best, and everyone gives me a different answer.  Lonely Planet is incredibly detailed and informative, though for many that is one of its drawbacks – it takes forever to map out an itinerary.  It also lacks in pictures…but I felt it was the best bet for me because since I am planning this trip so far in advance, I want to know aLL the background info and make informed decisions.  Frommer’s and Michelin are also popular choices and have easy to understand maps.  I’m tired of people rolling their eyes when I tell them which one I have…there needs to be some general consensus, or Oprah’s book club should nominate one or something..though I’m sure all you worldly blog readers have an opinion to share (at least I hope you do).

turkey-lonely-planet.jpg

(sidebar to this sidebar: reading these travel guides makes anyone who likes to write think about how cool it would be to work for these companies that pay you to write about your experiences… check out this great blog for tips on how to separate your travel blog from the crowd.)

I was thinking of hopping on a boat to Greece from Turkey, but now I’m thinking that if the Greek people find out I’m coming from Turkey they might drop a roofie in my ouzo and throw me off Mt. Olympus.  Should I be concerned about this? C’mon guys, I know you’ve hated each other for decades, but can you finally put this little feud behind you..for my sake?  Whaddya say..can we hug it out?

Too many sidebars to list…with all the planning I’m putting into this, by the time I finally go on this vacation, I’m really gonna need it.

Book Review – Middlesex

March 4, 2008

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One thing I forgot to mention in my back from hibernation top 10 list is the fact that I read two amazing novels, The Kiterunner and Middlesex.  I would write about The Kiterunner but i think everyone knows by now how amazing it is, what with the movie out and all.  [I think it has already reached the point where people will lie about having read it.  For example, A, who read the book, asks B, who did not read the book: ‘hey B, did you read the kiterunner?  and B goes, ‘what? who, me? pssshhh, maaaan.  c’mon now. of course I read the kiterunner.  that’s a classic right there.’   then A goes, ‘what did you like about it?’ and then B goes, ‘oh, well, hey, I mean, what can you say, you know?  everything basically’…pauses while A stares suspiciously…prompting B to reluctantly add, ‘the kites..really nice.  the way they just float in the sky like that..it was really uplifting.’]

Anyway, Middlesex is a reaally different type of read.  It basically tells the story of a second generation Greek American hermaphrodite, her family history, and the trials and tribulations of a confused kid trapped in an even more confused body.  [note: I hate more than anything to find out details about books/movies before I read/see them, so don’t worry, the hermaphrodite bomb is dropped on the first page of the book]. It wasn’t nearly as emotionally gut-wrenching as most novels that I tend to like.  It won’t make you cry, unless of course youre a sissy [although I may have had something in my eye towards the very end]. It’s just brilliantly written.  There is so much detail, so much background, so many sidebars, all put together quite ingeniously.  The author anticipates your every yearning before you even feel it, and so the 500-something pages fly quickly.

Middlesex is also great because of the way it artfully explores the inner tumoil felt by the main character, Callie, not just as a hermaphrodite, but in every phase of her life: as a child, teenager and adult; as a daughter, grand-daughter of immigrants, and little sister; as a friend, schoolmate, object of desire, self-conscious lover, sex object, and case-study.  Callie’s life is so complex, but she herself really is not…she just wants to fit in and feel accepted.  I also loved it from the immigrant perspective…the ranting of the grandmother who tries desperately to cling onto ancestral traditions is very entertaining.  All said, a really fun read.

Rating:  4 out of 5 elongated clitorises

[note…The Kiterunner is an amazing, must-read book, and has earned all the hype.  Rating: 5 out of 5 slingshots]