Books, Thoughts

Latest Book Notes

Since I’ve been lax once again with my posts, I thought I’d put together a few of my latest book experiences. My life is entwined with my books, so it’s the best update I can offer about my current interests and life changes.

As I wrote at the beginning of the year, I’ve been making my way through Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series.  Last week I finished Brief Lives, the seventh book in the series.  Like other write-ups of the series mention, the first few books are rough, emotionally raw.  It wasn’t until Season of Mists, the fourth book, that I stopped flinching every time I opened the next collection.  Brief Lives, in part, covers Destruction’s abdication of his duties.  I was reminded of the chaos that occurred at the beginning of the series when Dream was kidnapped & how the first three books focus on him taking control of the forces that were once under his influence.  I was left wondering how exactly that same drama had played out for Destruction.  With A.S. Byatt’s maxim about writers in mind (they are not creators, but destroyers), I was pondering just how closely Dream & Destruction are linked.  Does Destruction’s absence give rise to some of the other disturbing aspects of the opening books, like the serial killers’ convention?

Another book I’ve read is How to Make Books by Esther K. Smith.  Bit of a roundabout story why I picked it up.  I was inspired by Nick Offerman’s latest appearance on the Nerdist podcast back in March.  While he was mentioning his woodworking shop, Offerman talked about being able to take up a skill where you could fulfill creative and functional roles. Woodworking and knitting were two examples he mentioned.  So I thought about book-making.  My love of writing comes from my love of books, so I decided it was time for me to learn how to make my own.  Smith’s How to Make Books is a perfect guide for the beginning DIY-er.  I’ve started making my own mini-books.  I had this idea of having something small that I could use to write some of my more ridiculous customer service anecdotes.  A small, cheap form of therapy to keep at my desk & make me laugh.  I hope to have an example posted here soon.

Speaking of books sustaining me through sucky work days, I’d like to bring up the Complete Compendium of World Knowledge that sits on my desk.  As an early birthday present, Kurt took me to see author John Hodgman perform a new comedy show at the Birchmere on Friday, May 4th.  The openers were Paul & Storm, a comedy folk duo who recently wrote a plea to George R.R. Martin.  (If you’ve ever taken on an incomplete fantasy series, you MUST watch the video.)  After their first few songs, which were about such nerd-centric topics as epic fantasy novels, Star Wars, and chicken nuggets, Kurt turned to me and asked, “Did you write all of their songs?”

Comedy Joy at the Birchmere
Comedy joy at the Birchmere

After that, Hodgman came on, encouraging the audience to pogo to techno music with him before expounding on his new life, post-2012-apocalypse-predicting failure.  He talked about how watching Downton Abbey with his kids made him feel mortal, expounded on how alcoholic spirits are like science and wine is like religion, before finally putting on a frumpy 80’s two-piece dress and channeling Ayn Rand.  It.  Was.  Awesome!  I purposefully wore my Square Books t-shirt (a fake ad for Snopes & Noble Booksellers) hoping to strike up a conversation after the show with Judge Hodgman about Oxford.  I was not disappointed.

Finally, I’ve spent much of today devouring a new book that I was given for review.  Night Film by Marisha Pessl is already getting some advance hype on GoodReads.  And I can confirm that the story might just live up to it.  My first impressions are equal interest and frustration.  Pessl has a twisty tale to tell and can do it as well as other top thriller writers.  But, she’s so damned clever sometimes that I have to roll my eyes.  There’s a character who uses the alias Ashley DeRouin.  Because she’s a dramatically doomed character, I waited for someone to point out that the alias was a mondegreen for ‘ashes from the ruin’.  The inevitable mention showed up within five pages.

That’s all for now readers!  Hopefully, I’ll have a more focused post up soon!