Eleventh Five Books of 2007


I know these movies could have been better. But I'm sick, okay? Give me a break!

055) Ode To Kirihito by Osamu Tezuka, finished August 20

    Tezuka is often called the Walt Disney of Japan, and the flap copy of this book promised to demolish that view in my mind. Now, I've never read Astro Boy, so that vision of Tezuka is not that strong in my mind, and four rapes, rampant corruption in the medical community, and and a number of disfiguring pituitary diseases later, I'm really not apt to ever think that. ¶ I don't know if the problem is soley translator Camellia Nieh's, but my main complaint with this book was its rather clunky dialogue. But this was not a constant problem, and if you're interested in the book, I wouldn't let it keep you away. ¶ I picked up this book because of the striking Chip Kidd cover and checked it out because I've been meaning to read something from the Japanese Walt Disney. I was happy that the book was printed in mirror image (yes, I'm cancerously westerncentric in that way) and I enjoyed the book--even at 821 pages it didn't feel too long, even if I was never totally enamored. ¶ The eponymous character is a doctor studying Monmow Disease--cause unknown; causes the ill to degenerate until the skull and limbs become distinctly doglike. While studying the disease in the village the cases come from he contracts the disease himself. One thing leads to another and he ends up everywhere from Taiwan to Syria and everyone from newborns to whores ends up dead in a series of tragedies. It's all very sad. And laden with surprisingly heavy Christian imagery. But with excellent heroic characters: the selfless nun, notably. Into selfless nuns? Have I got a book for you!
    one week

    054) Polygamy Was Better Than Monotony by Paul Bailey, finished August 10

    I think Paul Bailey named this book what he did because he regretted not thinking of it earlier and putting it on Grandpa Was a Polygamist. Or maybe he had thought of that title, but hadn't given up on being popular in Utah yet. Get the full details at the Wikipedia article I started up for him! ¶ Anyway, the truth of the matter is this book has precious little to do with Polygamy--it's really his personal memoir, and although his polygamist grandfathers do play into that, they hardly deserve to have the book named after them. An ironic "Daddy Sacrificed His Second Estate" would have been better, for instance. ¶ Although he's not as successfully funny and his failings as a Mormon are more spectacular, those of you familiar with Robert Kirby might find the comparison helpful. ¶ But all that stuff aside, what I liked most about this book was its clear-eyed vision of small town Utah ninety or a hundred years ago. It's fascinating, to see an area I know so well, through such a very different pair of eyes. And the stories are like none I ever heard in Primary! For instance: getting baptized with tobacco in your pockets and coming out of the water, eight years old, clean, and surrounded by floating brown particulates of sin. Or: a desperate father yelling at President Heber J. Grant in his own office. But also: a town pulling together and rebuilding a downtrodden family's home after a disasterous fire. ¶ The book feels rather unplanned and slapped together a little too quickly. But it was like reading a nonfiction Great Brain (and I loved those book as a kid--even if they did make me feel slightly heretic), and, overall, I enjoyed it. I will be interested to see if his other books--his fiction maybe--read smoothly.
    less than seven months but probably more than six

    053) Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein, finished August 7

    This is a delightful book. No school was given that many pages, but as a fun introduction to many schools of thought, it's right on. And if you don't want to learn anything, that's okay too: the jokes are awesome.
    two weeksish

    052) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling, finished July 24

    Hoooooo. Decompress. ¶ So I thought the first Harry Potter book was nice but unremarkable. The second didn't really justify the hype. I loved the third and fourth books and was dismayed by the fifth. I did like the sixth, but really, it all came down to this one. Could Rowling stick the ending? ¶ And the answer is a qualified yes. ¶ This book made me cry time and again. There is a portion near the end where everything could touch off the wellings. It's Neville! The letter his Gran wrote him! The prat brother! The twin! Lupin and Tonks! It was a brutal stretch. And I qualify the yet only because the book had so much more to do after that. But I do not begrudge it any of this. You write a 4100 page book (more than three times as long as LoTR), it can take some time to wind it down. And the readers deserve that. Fair enough. ¶ I'm not going to be willing to comment on whether or not Harry deserves to be called Immortal Literature, but that he is Immortal Literature in every reasonable sense seems impossible to argue. Probably, over the course of this week, more people have read more pages of this book than have ever read as many of any other book in history. Ever. Including the Bible. And the Quran. Do you doubt it? ¶ Anyway, important issues: No, I am not fully satisfied on the Snape issue. Yes, I thought the Dumbledore thing was good and important and in keeping with the well established themes. Okay, I guess I follow the King's Cross deal and the seventh Horcrux thing and all the mythology, and I guess it works well enough for me. Yes, the action was excellent. Yes, the casualties, though horrible, were also good and important and necessarily artistically. No, I'm not anxious to pick the books up and read them all again. Yes, I may well someday. Yes, I will recommend them to my children. Yes, I am glad I read them. No, I'm not sure which last line was the last line she's had all this time and so no, I'm not satisfied with its weight in contrast with its expected weight. ¶ Any questions?
    three days

    051) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling, finished July 21

    When this book came out, I rushed through it so no one could ruin any salient plot points. But I entered it unprepared. I had read Order of the Phoenix the same way and had not touched Harry Potter at all in the interim. IN large part because I didn't much care for Order of the Phoenix--I found it overcooked. And besides: Harry was at a very annoying stage of life. He was intolerable. ¶ I didn't want to make the same mistake entering final book of the series, so I decided to read the last hundred pages of Half-Blood Prince before getting into it. The trouble was that I kept putting it off and putting it off and even though things I read like this and this should have reminded me, it wasn't till I took it off the shelf and started to read that I remembered that, unlike Book 5, I really liked this book. And so I determined to read the entire thing. ¶ I skimmed less important passages, but the book is surprisingly short on such. And I was also reading some passages more critically that I might feel better informed on such things as the Snape Issue as I attacked the final volume. ¶ I'm reasonably certain this was time well spent. ¶ Even if I am a day behind now....
    two days

    Previously on Five Books....

    050) The Ruins by Scott Smith, finished July 13<
    049) Favorite Stories by Margret Rey, illustrated by H.A. Rey, finished July 12
    048) Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins, finished July 2
    047) Flight Volume Three edited by Kazu Kibuishi, finished June 27
    046) Nobody Is Perfick by Bernard Waber, finished June 14
    045) First Paragraphs: Inspired Openings for Writers and Readers by Donald Newlove, finished June 12
    044) The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking, finished June 11
    043) Dune by Frank Herbert, finished June 9
    042) The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels by Thomas Cahill, finished June 8
    041) The Roald Dahl Omnibus by Roald Dahl, finished June 6
    040) Troll: A Love Story by Johanna Sinisalo, finished May 31
    039) The End by Lemony Snicket, finished May 23
    038) The Complete Peanuts 1961-1962 by Charles M. Schultz, finished May 22
    037) The Penultimate Peril by Lemony Snicket, finished May 21
    036) The Grim Grotto by Lemony Snicket, finished May 18
    035) The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, finished May 15
    034) Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, finished May 14
    033) Chip Kidd: Book One: Work: 1986-2006 by Chip Kidd, finished May 9
    032) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, finished May 7
    031) The Complete Peanuts 1959-1960 by Charles M. Schulz, finished April 25
    030) Devils & Demons edited by Marvin Kaye, finished April 23
    029) Talk Talk Talk: Decoding the Mysteries of Speech by Jay Ingram, finished April 23
    028) Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman, finished April 20
    027) The Long Chalkboard: and Other Stories by Jennifer Allen and illustrated by Jules Feiffer, finished April 19
    026) Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis, finished April 19
    025) Frank by Jim Woodring, finished April 12
    024) The Complete Concrete by Paul Chadwick, finished April 3
    023) The Rumpelstiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velde, finished March 30
    022) Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, finished March 28
    021) Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller et al, finished March 23
    020) A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, finished March 16
    019) Batman: Gothic by Grant Morrison et al, finished March 13
    018) Wild at Heart by John Eldredge, finished March 7
    017) Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid by Megan McDonald, finished March 7
    016) 50 Professional Scenes for Student Actors: A Collection of Short 2 Person Scenes by Garry Michael Kluger, finished March 6
    015) Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda, finished March 5
    014) Frindle by Andrew Clements, finished March 1
    013) Brain Wave by Poul Anderson, finished February 27
    012) The Best American Comics 2006 edited by Harvey Pekar and Anne Elizabeth Moore, finished February 26
    011) Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, finished February 15
    010) The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ edited by Mormon and Moroni, finished February 7
    009) Lisey's Story by Stephen King, finished February 1
    008) The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett, finished January 26
    007) Empire by Orson Scott Card, finished January 24
    006) Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, finished January 22
    005) Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh, finished January 17
    004) Superman Adventures Vol. 1: Up, Up and Away! by Mark Millar, finished January 16
    003) A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, finished January 12
    002) Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, finished January 11
    001) Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut, finished January 10

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    1 comment:

    1. .

      I meant to say this on Ode to Kirihito:

      It struck me as totally a two- or three-season HBO series. Exotic locales, kinky sex, gross violence and disease. Perfect.