Tuesday, January 23, 2007

in which i give three very different opinions

a book that i have read recently that is worth picking up:

the curious incident of the dog in the night-time - mark haddon

recommended to me by my health-safety-and-nutrition teacher/nazi in my second year of college, this book has actually been out and about for some time. christopher, an autistic teenager, tells the tale of how he found his neighbor's dog murdered in the middle of the night. this discovery leads to a series of drastic revelations. christopher is writing a murder mystery for you, the reader, and he puts in things he thinks might be interesting, such as his entire daily schedule, or a diagram of a double-decker bus. thoughtfully, he relegates the solution to a rather complicated math problem to the appendix, because his support worker suggests that perhaps you, the reader, will not find it as riveting as he does. this sort of precise, immaculate attention to detail from a boy who 'can't tell lies' (because only one thing can actually have happened , and thinking about the plentitude of things that didn't happen makes him ill) offers an interesting insight into the mind of a person with autism (and also reminds me of that episode of csi: las vegas, where the guy with autism is accused of murdering his illustration-forging co-worker, only to have his rote repetition of the night's events unmask the true killer!). the story takes several emotionally-laden loops, but its teller disinterestedly lays it out. from his formulaic 'and then she said...and then i said' dialogue, to his descriptions of emotional symptoms and treatments rather than the emotions themselves, christopher lets us see how his priorities differ from mine or...well, mine (can't speak for you). perhaps working with Clarence makes it a befitting read just now, but i think this book would be an absorbing read even if you don't have a dimpled, brown-eyed toddler who's only distinguishable words are 'ball,' 'toast,' and 'yyyyyyyyyyellow!!!'


a book that i have read recently that is worth putting down (both literally and literarilly speaking)

the sea - john banville

my opinion is that someone gave john banville a 'word of the day' calender, and he has tried to write a novel using each of these impossibly obscure words (kind of like that time ernest vincent wright wrote an entire novel without using the letter 'e', only less awesome). either that, or he's looked up every seventh adjective in the thesaurus, and used the synonym with the most consonents. these aren't words like 'discombobulate' (as in, 'he gave her a series of directions in rapid bulgarian, until she was completely discombobulated and had to sit down for a minute and think') that you can discern from the context, nor are they words like 'machiavellian' or 'visceral' that show up in books all the time, and so i really should look them up and figure out what they actually mean. banville uses words like 'proscenium' and 'adipose,' WHICH YOU WILL NEVER AGAIN SEE IN PRINT, and uses them in impossibly long sentences like 'i have always suffered from what i think must be an overly acute awareness of the mingled aromas that eminate from the human concourse.' now, in this particularly instance, i know what he's trying to say, but couldn't he just say 'i can smell groups of people really well'? i mean, i'm all for the crafting of the written word and such, but as joel's english professor scrawled on the back of one of his papers: 'taylor your something illegible. verbiage something else untidy your syntax.' i.e. don't use so many words.

same goes for you, banville.

ps. plotline got somethinged in verbiage. an old man? revisits his childhood seaside home? to deal with the death of his wife? and issues from aforementioned childhood? something like that.


a book that i have read many times that is worth reading again:

the princess bride - william goldman

the alleged abridgement of s. morgenstern's 'classic tale of true love and high adventure' ('alleged' because i suspect the 'abridgement' of being part of the frolicking fun, and 'morgenstern' to be a clever literary tool) is a must-read. if you liked the movie (and who didn't?), you'll want to bake the book in a pie and serve it to your friends. 'morgenstern's' prose is divinely witty, and goldman's explanatory remarks even more so. and the characters? oh, my dear westley. and inigo montoya, with his quest for vengeance, and lovable, rhyming fezzik, and the sicilian...the one who kept saying 'inconceivable'...what was his name? oh, hell. this book deserves a better synopsis than i have time to give it just now. go beg, borrow, or steal it, you won't be disappointed.

1 comment:

Nater said...

Fezzik, are there rocks ahead?