Friday, May 19, 2017

Books I'm Reading

1. Even More Bad Parenting Advice---cartoons by Guy DeLisle---pretty good but I liked his graphic memoirs about working abroad as a cartoonist better than his chronicles of being a parent:
I highly recommend his Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea:

[Hm. ^ How topical...]

2. The Sound of Gravel (2016)--- 
Ruth Wariner's memoir of growing up in a polygamous Mormon community in Mexico, where women play a role much like breeding livestock--her story is like a fascinating, scary, real-life Handmaid's Tale. Wariner got herself and her little sisters out, and they're all doing well today, so besides being horrific, it's an inspiring tribute to human resilience too.

3. Zone One, by Colson Whitehead
Disappointing. I like zombie apocalypse tales, but this one was all clogged up with literary writing, which annoyed me greatly.

I am entirely on the side of the made-up "disgruntled" readers in this super enragingly condescending review in the NYT.
I must indeed be "entirely beyond the beguilements of art" because I STOPPED READING THE BOOK before I could be forced "to see the strangeness of the familiar and the familiarity of the strange" (oh boy, like I never have before):
Colson Whitehead is a literary novelist, but his latest book, “Zone One,” features zombies, which means horror fans and gore gourmands will soon have him on their radar. He has my sympathy. I can see the disgruntled reviews on Amazon already: “I don’t get it. This book’s supposed to be about zombies, but the author spends pages and pages talking about all this other stuff I’m not interested in.” Broad-spectrum marketing will attract readers for whom having to look up “cathected” or “brisant” isn’t just an irritant but a moral affront. These readers will huff and writhe and swear their way through (if they make it through) and feel betrayed and outraged and migrained. But unless they’re entirely beyond the beguilements of art they will also feel fruitfully disturbed, because “Zone One” will have forced them, whether they signed up for it or not, to see the strangeness of the familiar and the familiarity of the strange.
Oh, please.
If anyone ever wonders why people feel liberal elites are condescending, there ^ you have it.

4. The Shepherd's Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape, James Rebank 
I picked this up because my auntie has taken up spinning and now e-mails me about different sheep breeds and their wool.
Rebank is from a family of shepherds in the Lake District of England, where you still have to rely on your feet and your dogs, a family who breed Herdwicks, the same hardy sheep Beatrix Potter raised. 

I liked it a lot and recommend it as a good read, sheep aside, about ... um, well, about living a physical life, in a physical place.  
I didn't much like Rebank himself, but I liked his writing: it's not in the least bit romantic or purple, thankgod––I never rolled my eyes at any overwrought bits, like I did reading H Is for Hawk––and yet the story pulses like the heartbeat in a man's neck, wet with cold rain and spattered with grit--not metaphorically, but because he's out in the muddy fields in the rain, wrestling a sheep.

The sheep is not cathected with grief at the loss of traditional ways of life, it's just a muddy sheep. (OK, and also, yes, a symbol of Things We Stand to Lose.)

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