Books 9/7/04

Over the past couple weeks I’ve finished a number of books and haven’t had time to write about them, so its time to play catch up.
I thoroughly enjoyed Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography, a book whose title really tells you everything you need to know about the tone of what’s inside. I was suprised and delighted by a number of clever references to old children’s books, and the multimedia approach to the tale was inventive and well executed. Rather than just being a empty ploy for more Snicket fan dollars, it contained a lot of clues about the mysteries contained in the books. No answers- and perhaps more questions, but some interesting hints nonetheless.
I picked up Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach because I’d read good reviews, and because it was on sale. (Yay to buying books at Costco!) The book is about different things that happen to bodies after death; everything from simple burial and decay to use as crash test dummies. The subject matter could easily slip into the truly distasteful, but Roach stays professional and respectful at all times, and what results is very educational and entertaining. Roach does have a tendency to veer off on tangents and her writing is very conversational, two elements that alternated between being endearing and irritating. But overall I really enjoyed it, and unfortunately for those who have to listen to me, learned just enough to be dangerous.
Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman is a parable of sorts, a meditation on learning Zen philosophy. The description of the characters’ application of Zen practices made the reason behind the practices clearer, and the story itself was engrossing, as it is based partially on the author’s own life.
The Children of Cthulhu, edited by John Pelan and Benjamin Adams, is a great anthology of stories inspired by the Lovecraft mythos. The quality of the stories varied, but overall the stories were well written and quite creepy.
I just finished The Fun of It: Stories from the Talk of the Town, a collection of columns from the New Yorker. The constraints of the the column, ( word count, voice, style) made for little works of art that are concise, consistent, and clear. The collection spans 1920-2000, and while each column functions as a snapshot of a point in the culture of New York, the collection read in order becomes a timeline of life in the U.S.
I just started Crackpot: The Obsessions of John Waters, an amusing followup to The Fun of It, in that it too is a collection of articles, but the subject matter couldn’t be more different. It is, in true John Waters form, delightfully trashy, and a fun insight into his crazed mind.
The most prevalent theme through the books in this batch? Titles with colons and subtitles.

Current total: 86
Just Finished: The Fun of It: Stories from the Talk of the Town by Lillian Ross
Currently Reading: Crackpot: The Obsessions of John Waters by John Waters

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