Friday, February 16, 2007

sports page = the grapes of wrath

last weekend, joel and i were having one of our terribly interesting and intelligent conversations, and this one happened to be about sports highlights. sports highlights are something that i enjoy in moderation, particularly of the 'best damn sports show period's top 50 outrageous sports moments' variety, which has more athletes beating up fans and anthem-singers forgetting words and then rushing to their dressing rooms in shame and then being coaxed to return only to fall on their asses before they even get to the mic than it does dekes and dunks. i delight in these, because how often do you see a boxer's mother start beating his opponent on the head with her shoe? on the other hand (in my opinion, which i expressed), you can only see so many amazing glove saves before they all start to look the same.

this, joel says, is because i do not watch enough sports.

if all you watch is sports highlights, then you start to think that highlights are (is?) all sports is (are?). apparently, if you sit through the tedium (i hear some like it) of an entire basketball game, you will better appreciate that one amazing play, that fluid motion and flawless communication. (joel and i being polar opposites, we draw a lot of analogies to better understand each other. this is his 'literature' analogy to help me understand 'sports') it's as though, he says, someone reads very little, and all that they do read is the 'good stuff,' best-seller fiction or literary classics or books of quotations. this leads them to assume that all books are full of pithy insights and cleverly-wrought phrases, and so they express neither surprise nor pleasure when they come upon a great novel. i, on the other hand, having read a great deal of tripe (this is not precisely true, but we'll come to that later), am more inclined to appreciate such literary treasures as 'the count of monte cristo,' or 'the poisonwood bible.'

this whole conversation, besides expanding my grasp of sports and their highlights, got me thinking about the amount of bad literature that i do or do not read. for years, all i read was classics (dickens, dumas, melville, steinback) because they were safe. they were established as 'good' books, and i didn't have to a) worry about putting effort into something that would lead to disappointment, or b) form an opinion on them, because they were classics. you can't say charles dickens sucks, because he doesn't. he's charles dickens. he wrote 'oliver twist' (which i just read again, and that disney movie about the cat really doesn't do it any justice, because it's quite fabulously dark, and you also can't say that charles dickens sucks because i'll punch you. in the eye. quite hard). and i'm lazy about forming opinions.

that being said, there are zouzands of books out there, and probably most of them are bad, and how do you keep from wasting your time? so i've taken suggestions from people i know, and from the blogs of people i don't know, and then often at the library i'll pick up a book just because it's called 'the sun also rises,' and haven't i heard of that somewhere before? or because there's this book, 'the mermaid something' that i keep seeing touted in chapters, by the author of 'something something bees,' only i've never read 'something something bees,' so that doesn't mean anything to me, until i'm in the library, and i'm like, oh look! 'a recipe for bees'! and so i took it home and read it, and it's really not all that good, but that's ok, because the book i actually meant was 'the secret life of bees.' which is a different book altogether.

and so what with my rediscovering the library, and deciding to branch out and read some potential tripe from time to time, and my two-and-a-half-hour daily transit adventure, i've been reading a cheerful menagerie of late. and because i'm lazy about forming opinions, i've decided to do just that, and set them down here for you, e-reader. not in a 'i liked it; i hated it; i was indifferent towards it' sort of way, because that does neither you nor me any good, but more in a 'it was quite delicious escapist literature without all the usual smut, and even though i'm always a little self-conscious and embarrased to be reading Christian fiction, because it all seems so contrived and ridiculous, maybe that has more to do with how i feel about my religion than it does with how i feel about the book, and the writing is quite good, and the characters are quite moving, and i almost did cry a little bit at the end, so i can't decide if i liked it or loved it, but i probably didn't hate it' which is actually how i feel about most books that aren't-classics-so-i-don't-have-to-like-them.

tangent the first: i've started reading the 'mark of the lion' series, jane. and that (see: above) is how i feel about the first book.

tangent the second: this post is actually a prequel to this post, in which i do this very thing that i'm talking about here. i just mean to do it more frequently, 's all i'm saying.

tangent the third: i really did hate 'moby dick,' classic or no.
sub-tangent: this guy blogs through his reading of moby dick in real-time. it's quite funny.

so, since i got distracted and spent probably half an hour perusing that guy's (see: above) blog, i've kind of lost the thread of this post. i think what i meant so say, in closing, was that this post is already WAAAAAAAY too long to be putting my literary e-opinions here, so i'll call it quits for the now.

addendum: joel, bent towards sciences and sports though he may be, has read 'anna karenina.' cover to cover. before it became part of oprah's book club. is he not fabulous?

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