Latest Reading (voraciously over the last couple days...)
In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin - What an odd, special book. A momentary cure for my endless wanderlust. I like it so much that it's the slowest book I've ever read, I think. I wake up and I read a single chapter, they're very tightly written and most aren't longer than five pages...Reading the book, it's like receiving a letter from a friend who is travelling at the ends of the earth and you have no idea what observation, incite, piece of history or random trivia he's going to come up with next. And the people of Patagonia...
No, never read a book quite like it.
Every morning I wake up, and between shower and breakfast I say to myself, "Well, better check in with Bruce and see how he's doing down there..."
Cultural Amnesia by Clive James - Not that I would wish this fate on anyone, but I almost wish an Imam or two would declare a Fatwa on Clive James for writing this book. Then, at least, everyone would know about this and at least take a good look through it. This might be the most important book published this year. I've set up a link to 12 excerpts of the book through slate.com on the side bar. It's riveting. A bomb of humanism that reminds us not only of who we are, but who we can be. A monumental achievment of culture, criticism and creativity. You'll never forget the name Sophie Scholl, among others, after reading this book. And no one should. Thank you, Mr. James. This book hasn't changed my life, but it's illuminated and inspired it.
All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy - I haven't read this book in about eight years and I'm re-reading it now. I loved it the first time and I love it now, but with some slight reservations. The prose style, maybe I was more into "style" back then, but it seems very mannered and self conscious. Don't get me wrong, McCarthy can write sentences along side the best of Faulkner and Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald being my favorite, but there is something stilted at times, something not quite natural or in synch with the raw, primal world he's depicting. Too much of the "anxiety of influence" of Faulkner? Yeah, I think so. I think so a lot. And I don't understand it. It's unneeded.
Still, the journey of John Grady Cole is unforgettable, and in spite of the derivative prose, McCarthy succeeds in turning a tried and true genre on it's head simply by filtering it through his passionate, violent and singular imagination.
I wonder what Zane Grey would have thought...
Christopher Hitchens - I've been on a Hitchens kick. I've been reading every article I can find by the guy. I absoluetly hate his stance on Iraq. The moral implications of this conflict from the beginning were too great to lead to anything but catastrophe for all involved. I argued this from the beginning, real world geo-political strategy be damned. Plus, how could a guy so smart follow a guy so dumb into this mess considering the cronyism he's always opposed so vehemently?! This is the danger of being an insider's insider: even one who continually speaks truth to power in spite of the risk to himself can miss the bigger picture, and when I mean bigger, I mean the metaphysical and moral picture of the murder of innocent life all for power, oil and ego.
That being said, I love the guy's writing. Brilliant, daring, thought provoking...He lives it fearlessly and he is clearly one of the most important journalists working today. His output, the quality of it, his incite...Hitchens is titanic. I only hope he is remembered for more than his stubbornly, obstinate stand on Iraq.
And a ton of other articles, essays, etc. etc. etc.
I'm hungry for something else these days. I want to expand.
Maybe it's the summer...