Sunday, January 27, 2008

30 Days of Bloggery: A books meme I found on the Internets

1. One book that changed your life?
"1984" by George Orwell, one of the first "adult" books I read (coincidentally in 1984 or so). The sheer ferocious, razor-sharp intensity of Orwell's prose captivated me (and still does), and its vision of a world where human freedom is repeatedly stomped upon created the first stirrings of a kind of political principle in me, and a sometimes-healthy, sometimes-counterproductive dislike for being told what to do that's lasted my entire life. It was also a glimpse into the adult world at age 13 or so when I read it, dazzling in its detail and grim reality, and from there it was off to the races and reading was my life. (Well, part of it.)

2. One book you have read more than once?
Many, many, but one I've read a good 3-4 times is Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita," which is dense enough to be like a half-dozen ordinary books, and another one of them tomes that's a little different every time.

3. One book you would want on a desert island?
A tricky question, but one series I find myself returning to every 5 years or so for a re-read is John Updike's marvelous "Rabbit" series, which reveals different layers to me every time I read it. The chronicle of one man's fumbling life from 20s to 50s, it has new messages for you depending on what age you're at, with Updike's lush, dangerously erudite prose like a warm bath you leap into.

4. One book that made you laugh?
Mostly recently? The surprisingly funny "I Love You, Beth Cooper" by Larry Doyle, a teen satire that read like the long-lost great John Hughes 1980s movie. Books that TRY to be funny rarely work for me but Doyle, a former Simpsons writer, has a knack for wry witticisms and laugh-out-loud over-the-top hijinks.

5. One book that made you cry?
Hmm. I am not a big crier, but I'll admit that one book that choked me up is (perhaps curiously in a list full of Updikes and Nabokovs so far) Stephen King's "IT," which is 1,000 pages or so about the death of childhood and while it's full of the usual King gore and grim, it also has a hauntingly sad message at the end about what we lose as we grow older. Each time I read it after going through so much with these characters I get a little taut inside at how we all forget what childhood is really like.

6. One book you wish had been written?
Well, more than a few by me, I guess, although I do have that nifty collection of my newspaper columns 1994-2004 that I'm very proud of as a kind of summation of things so far.

7. One book you wish had never had been written?
Well, the whole genre of right-wing Let Me Tell You Why Liberals Suck books by O'Reilly, Coulter, Limbaugh, et al I guess. I find them bankrupt as literature and usually preaching to the converted anyway.

8. One book you are currently reading?
As seen in my sidebar, "Brother Ray," the highly entertaining autobiography of Ray Charles, unapologetic, ribald and refreshingly candid so far.

9. One book you have been meaning to read?
Sadly I have what started as a stack and has since ended up as a bookshelf full of unread books next to my bed. Last count it was up to 25+ books which means I really need to not buy any more new books for a while. But one of these days, I am going to give James Joyce's "Ulysses" another go - tried it in college - I swear!

10. Now tag five people.
Hmm, if anyone wants to give it a go --
Will P.

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