Monday, February 25, 2013

THE POORER SILENCE OF READING

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More books to report on having read. (This is really for me; when someone asks what I've read lately I usually can't remember!) 27 books, so far, since mid-December: 17 of the old-fashioned variety and 10 on my Kobo. 


Death Without Company
            Craig Johnson
                        —well, hello, Craig Johnson! This one’s a mystery featuring Walter Longmire (there was/is an A& E series, according to the cover). Walter’s a sheriff in Wyoming who has to figure out who poisoned a woman in an assisted living home. There’s lots of edge-of-seat bits and funny bits, my favourite being: “The place was packed as we flooded in, all the patrons freezing at the sight of an armed sheriff, two deputies, an Indian, and a construction worker; we probably looked like the Village People.” There are several books in this series and I’ll be starting another one shortly.


            Mary Roach
                        —and now for something completely different! Published in 2003, this entertaining and always interesting book looks at what happens to our bodies after we die. Roach is interesting, thorough, and funny without being disrespectful (that last being something I sort of cribbed from the back cover blurb but would have said anyway). Here’s how it begins:
“The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship. Most of your time is spent lying on your back. The brain has shut down. The flesh begins to soften. Nothing much new happens, and nothing is expected of you.”

Having picked it up at the used bookstore here and read that, how could I not bring it home? Five stars.

Here I am, sort of reading Stiff. This was not staged, nor was I bored. It was just afternoon nap time.

Poetry Magazine (April 2005 issue)
            Featuring Kay Ryan, A.F. Moritz, Billy Collins, J. Allyn Rosser, A.E. Stallings,
Christopher Hitchens, and a  bunch of other people
                        —you may be wondering why this poet hasn’t been reading much poetry on this trip. Other than the Bernadette Mayer, which was the first thing I read, it’s been all fiction and non-fiction. The answer is two-fold. I don’t much like reading poems on my Kobo, assuming I can find poetry that has been translated to the e-book format (and once I get home, I won’t be reading much else on it, either, but it’s great for traveling) and the second hand bookstore here is wonderful, but lacking in poetry. So far, I know of one contemporary book that showed up there but my friend Peter got to it before I did. So I was quite excited when I spotted this little lit mag down by the crocodiles, in a pile of books being sold along with wooden cutting boards and spoons. The first asking price was 50 pesos, but then a hurried conversation in Spanish ensued between a couple of the vendors and it came down to 30 pesos which is a little less than $3.00 and quite a fair price for an 8-year-old magazine. There’s a wonderful Moritz poem within, succinctly titled Häagen-Dazs Freezer Truck Blocking View of Ottawa River While Its Compressor Blots the Sounds of Nature. There’s a Collins one, Silence, which ends:

            And there is the silence of this morning
            which I have broken with my pen,
            a silence that had piled up all night
           
            like snow falling in the darkness of the thouse—
            the silence before I wrote a word
            and the poorer silence now.

Seems it’s even worse when you break that sort of silence with the sounds of a keyboard.

But what I really enjoyed about this little mag is the letters to the editor section, where a couple of people wrote in to dispute reviews in an earlier issue, and then the reviewer got to rebut. Are there any Canadian magazines that do that sort of thing, or are we all too nervous to review anything negatively in the first place for fear of getting a bad review of one’s own in the future, or worse, probably, no review at all?

            Tamara Faith Berger
                        —a draining read, this, about a teenage girl’s descent into porn movie-dom thanks to her unquenchable teenage horniness. It’s an gritty exploration of masturbation, blow jobs, hand jobs, violence, dope-smoking and general teenage angst, writ ever so much larger than when I was going through that stage (being a teenager), thanks to the ready availability of just about everything now: online; on television; from your favourite pusher down the road. Myra, the heroine, wants so desperately to lose her virginity it was a relief for both of us when she finally does. She’s also a pretty serious reader and is writing an essay on the master-slave relationship. This book kind of reminded me of Beautiful Losers (you know, by that guy who makes beautiful music and is still touring even though he’s approaching 80), I think it was, although reading that one back in the late 60’s was a lot more fun as I had hormones in those days.

Kindness Goes Unpunished
            Craig Johnson
                        —told you I’d be back to one of his! In this one, Sheriff Walt Longmire has to get to the bottom of a political scandal. It begins with a bang when his daughter Cady, an up-and-coming lawyer in Philadelphia, is attacked and nearly killed. Many of the characters from the last book are back, including Dog (his dog), his trusty deputy, Victoria Moretti, and longtime friend, Henry Standing Bear. Once again, this guy can really tell a story!

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