Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Cottage Lit 101

Okay, I'm back. You can tell because I have that healthy tan and hobbled posture that result from spending a week at a cottage doing mostly repair work. The dock needed work, a water pump refused to pump, a deck was losing its stain, a lawnmower sounded like a cat was trapped under its blade - you get the picture. It wasn't a particularly relaxing vacation, but it was a change of scenery and did give my lawn some well-needed time to grow itself beyond reasonable mowing limits.

In amongst the foraging through old coffee cans for decent-looking 5" bolts and swatting at a record-sized squadron of mosquitoes, I did manage to get a few books read.

I finally got around to reading The Yiddish Policeman's Union. I say 'finally' because I'd been avoiding the book on the vague pretense that I might not like it. I don't why I felt that way because I did (mostly) like The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.

I have to say, I really liked this book. It took a few pages to grok the decidedly-Jewish dialogue style. After that small hurdle, it was a great read. The alternate-history that back-drops this crime mystery is fully imagined. While essential to the story, Chabon does not beat you over the head with clever minutia about his fictional Sitka, Alaska. The book's other strength is in the characters. They, too, are fully imagined and the story left me wanting to see these people again some time - always the mark of a great read for me.

So I guess I'm recommending this one. After all, it did win a Nebula award.

Okay so here's an embarrassing fact: I had never read the entire Watchmen story before last week. It was one of those things I always meant to do and just never did.

What can I say? I loved it - it's a masterpiece! I'm curious to see how it will translate to film in 2009, and I'm avoiding watching the video diaries over on the film's website. How long can I hold out?

Another fact: I lent the book to my 12 year-old JediBoy. I was concerned that some of the content (you know, sex and violence) is beyond his tender years. This was tempered by the assumption that the story might be too complex for his liking. Well, he devoured the thing inside of 2 days. He said he really the book, but - being who he is - he felt compelled to (seriously) point out that Watchmen does contain a lot of gore and sexual content that might be inappropriate for a 12 year-old. That didn't stop him from reading the book, however, and it did allow me to score points by assuring him I felt he was 'ready' for such a book. All in all, a soft-focus, feel-good moment for both of us.

Our final review - Spanish for Dummies. This represents my token effort to prepare for next month's trek through the mountain jungles of Costa Rica. The book - co-developed by the Berlitz people - is surprisingly well-written. However, the structure of the lessons is a little baffling in that I don't get a sense that I'm building my understanding in stages. I guess I just have to trust that someone knows what they're doing and I'll eventually have some kind of Ah-Ha moment.

Alas, I'm only a quarter way through this book and I seriously doubt that (a) I'll finish it before our trip and (b) I'll be anywhere near mastering the Spanish language.

But, dammit, I'm trying to make an effort here.


David said...

Here are two of my very expensive, university-level phrases that I now give to you for free:

Oh estimado, hay dos muchachas en la cocina!


Mi jugador de registro está quebrado.

These two will never let you down in any situation. And if you need any German phrases about beach parties, guitars, or clearance sales, I am your man.

Sonny Drysdale said...

Crazy - while you were gone, my 13-year-old kid has "borrowed" my copy of 'Watchmen.'

Says he really likes it - but so far hasn't commented on the sex and semi-nudity. He either hasn't gotten that far - or is afraid I might have forgotten about all that and his mother will take it away from him if he points it out.

As for the violence, he's probably the only one in the world who's a fan of 'The Comedian.'

... hope you got some fishing in while you were up there. I hear the bass are biting this year.

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