050) Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans: The Best of McSweeney's, Humor Category edited by D. Eggers, K. Shay, L. Epstein, J. Warner and S. Kleid, finished June 9
    I'm highly ambivalent about McSweeney's (which I've been blogging about a long time, starting here), but this collection of funny stuff is great. Not all of it of course, but Rehnquist dunking over Stevens? It doesn't get any better than that. And some of the lists (pop-song sequels screams to mind) are simply hilarious. Check it out! Skip the ones you don't like! Roll over the others! Now!

    Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans

    under two weeks

049 Bikeman by Thomas F. Flynn, finished June 5
    Advance praise of this book is almost deafening (it comes out in August). Everybody loves it! Flynn is a national newsman and other national newsmen with names like Dan Rather and Diane Sawyer are quoted on the dust jacket. Rather also writes a foreword, accompanied by an introduction by a Princeton professor of literature (emeritus).

    You can hear a 'but' coming, can't you? Well, let's hold off on that.

    The book is good. At places it is excellent.

    Bikeman is a seventy-five page poem recounting Flynn's experience on September 11, 2001. He grabbed his bike and hurried down to Ground Zero to see what he could see. "Curiosity is my muse, one I follow / without hesitation. My muse, / no friend, pushes me toward calamity."

    In his foreword, Rather writes about the difference between 9/11 and 9/11 in New York. I don't doubt it. I woke up that "forever September morning" in an apartment without a tv. The radio made it so abstract. We were still horrified. We still cried. We went to campus to watch the images of smoke and collapse. But it was not in my backyard. It was nowhere near my backyard.

    And the news was washed. It was many months before I saw an image of a plumetting body. Flynn saw dozens, falling in slow motion, thrown against the tower by unkind winds.

    I remember clearly the image taken by a cameraman as he turned and ran from the oncoming debris of a fallen tower. Flynn was nearly crushed, then almost buried alive.

    And this is the first time I've ever heard of people drowning in the river. How did that happen?

    So this is my but: These people loved Flynn's book, but they are connected to New York. It is their home and dear to them. It is not my home, though part of my native land, and I will never be as connected to it as they are. This book is a vital description of one man's 9/11, but I will always view his experience from the outside.

    But I'm glad I can view it at all.

    (I won't comment here on the actual poetry, which I did not find uniformly excellent--more utilitarian than beautiful or sublime. It has its moments certainly but I wouldn't call it an immortal masterpiece or anything--no matter the insinuations of certain Princeton men. I do agree with the professor though that this book has a chance of selling well and being a step towards returning poetry to the public eye. Which would be excellent. Good luck, Bikeman!)

    six days

Fool Moon by Jim Botcher; image on BN.com 048) Fool Moon by Jim Butcher, finished June 5
    So I know: the title's lame. Let's move on from that.

    I only heard of these books because a student recommended them to me and I only read the first one because he forced it on me. Yes, I liked it, but that's rarely reason enough to read more than one book in a series. Usually I read one and check it off my list and call it knowledge enough.

    But he brought me the second one and, as I'm all about creating a climate of book-reading, I accepted it. And you know what? Good move.

    The first book, if you will recall, impressed me with its excellent world-building. This one surprised me by revealing more depth. In fact, I now wonder if maybe there isn't an overall story arc here ala Harry Potter. The plot has thickened in other words. And naturally dead parents are involved. (Note: timing of publication is such that Harry Potter copying is very unlikely.)

    Also, the police station scene was one of the most astonishing things I have ever read. And pretty bold as well. Big story-taking chances were taken.

    My hoped hadn't been high for this book--werewolves have never impressed me. But Butcher changed my mind.

    All those nice things said, this book did take a few pratfalls on the way to the finish lines.

    TO SUM UP: I hope this series is going somewhere. And if some kid wants to lend me book three in September, I'll read it. But if I end up feeling this is just a dairy farm, you can count me out.

    couple weeks maybe

from the NYT 047) The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, finished June 2
    There is really only one word to properly describe this movie: cinematic. The somewhat stilted writing lends to that effect; the fullpage images lend to that effect; the titles lend to that effect; the black-bordered pages lend to that effect.

    The book is by far the most marvelously cinematic book I have ever read.

    The fact that it has been connected to movie-lover Scorsese is perfect. Only a film historian could do render this cinematic book into a movie the way it should be done. And if it won't be perfect, just read the book.

    It's practically a movie already.

    The author's appropriate name.
    An appropriate film to watch before, during or after reading.

    a week or two

046) Sixty Poems by Charles Simic, finished May 30
    I'm not a huge poetry reader, I'm afraid, but I try to fit some into my diet. One means of doing this is trying to keep up with reading something by whoever the poet laureate of the U.S. is. Charles Simic is the laureate now, so when I saw his book at the library, I checked it right out. Sorry to say I didn't end the book a fan. Not that it was terrible, but....

    I thought "Paradise" and "In the Library" and " Country Fair" and "Serving Time" and "Description of a Lost Thing" were all pretty good. "My Turn to Confess" and "In the Planetarium" were sound, but excellent? A poet to remember? Not so sure.

    I think Simic must write with an erection most of the time--I don't think I've ever read the word "naked" so many times. Which is a nice, strong word. Until you use it in every single poem.

    Many of the poems had great moments, but did not manage to be great wholes (endings were particularly problematic). I'll share some excellent potential epigraphs I gleaned at the end of this post.

    And--besides naked people, his other great love is frying pans. Which were sometimes combined. Was "Crazy About Her Shrimp" a joke? I can't tell. But all naked and frying all the time gets repetitive. I expect more--especially from a greatest-hits compilation. Shame. (I even read most of them aloud!))

      Toy soldiers were in big demand,
      The kind made from clay.
      The lead ones they melted into bullets, I suppose.

        "This Big War"

      I believe in the soul; so far
      It hasn't made much difference.

        "The Old World

      XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXreading about stars
      How they can afford to spend centuries
      Traveling our way on a glint of light.

        "My Nameless Entourage"

      The great labor was always to efface oneself,
      Reappear as something entirely different:
      The pillow of a young woman in love,
      A ball of lint pretending to be a spider.

        "The Lives of the Alchemists

      A god trying to write a poem on why he barks,
      That's me, dear reader!

        "My Turn to Confess

    Most of those, interestingly, fall right at the beginning of their respective poems.

    just shy of twenty-four hours




  1. 'Tis true that as far as titles go, Jim Butcher is a fan of truly terrible puns. But I've yet to read a Dresden novel I really didn't like. And I'm on #5 now . . . Well, not right now now. But it's at home on my desk.

    And my roommate keeps insisting I read Hugo Cabret. Perhaps she has a valid point if you liked it too . . .

  2. .

    I did like it but I didn't love it. As an artistic experiment, it was very successful. As a piece of art, less so. If the distinction makes sense.

  3. Ask me Why?


    Ask me Why?

    You ask why?
    The answer is because.

    You ask why I follow this Jesus.
    Why I love Him the way I do?
    When the world's turned away from His teachings
    and the people who serve Him are few.
    Define service you, tell me just what you expected me to do.
    It's not the rewards I'm after
    Or gifts that I hope to receive
    It's the Presence that calls for commitment
    It's the Spirit I trust and believe.
    Works all are good and rewards he will give but don't trust in your own good for salvations from him. The Lord doesn't shelter His faithful
    Or spare them all suffering and pain;
    Like everyone else I have burdens,
    And walk through my share of rain. The pain we all have is absorbed in his side where the spear thrust poured out his water and blood. Yet He gives me a plan and a purpose,
    And that joy only Christians have known,
    I never know what comes tomorrow,
    But I do know I'm never alone. He says that he dwells within us and as long as we follow him he keeps us. It's the love always there when you need it;
    It's the words that redeem and inspire,
    It's the longing to ever be with Him
    That burns in my heart like a fire. The fire in the ashes of a Phoenix reborn the central focus of us all should be the Cross.
    So you ask why I love my Lord Jesus.
    Well, friend, that's so easy to see
    but the one thing that fills me with wonder is
    Why Jesus loved someone like you and me. The wonder is that he came and he DID it at all the people eye meet the people that fall would not wait one hour with someone to come. You cannot judge GOD by the people he made some are goats some are bad some are good they are sheep.
    Author CharlaX

  4. .

    Jesus spam? That's a new one. I wonder if he would approve.... I know I wouldn't mind. If it were apropos of anything.

  5. The distinction does make sense. She claims I have to read it since it's the only chapter book that's earned a Caldecott . . .

  6. .

    That's not quite so--I'm pretty sure They Were Strong and Good had chapters. But it's far and away the longest for sure.

  7. eye resemble that remarked
    whats wrong with you

    can not you see that poem in the text BEFORE eye added mine

    mabe eye was making a reply IN KIND

    besides eye like to BLOGGER

    lighten up
    why do you belittle what you cant do yourself

  8. .

    I do love me a humble disciple. Are you referring to the snippets from Simic? I'm not sure. Also, please don't misunderstand me, but your mannerism in spelling and syntax makes you very hard to read. I went to your blogs but found them impenetrable.

    You're welcome here anytime, though!

  9. Forking River
    Forking Dam
    John M went camping and took his friend Timmy. Off they went to the Forking River Dam. They went to the Forking Campground near the Forking Dam. They decided to visit the Forking City. They had to go to the Forking Market. It was near the Forking Gas Station closer to the furcating Forking River bending near the Forking swamp turning into the Forking Quicksanding place there where they turned off the Main Forking Road. They turned Forking right there. There is a Forking left turn as well but they had to get to the Forking Store. They bought some Forking Beer made in the Forking Brewery. They were still in Illinois. Forking, Ill. Ill is the abbreviation for Illinois, so we aer all Forking, Ill. For now. The men were Forking camping so they bought some Forking beans made at the Forking beanery. The Forking Meat CO. provided. The Olympic branch of the Mount Olympus Water CO. Donated the Forking Water. They went to the Forking River Motel to steal the soap and the towels. They paid for the room and took two Forking Dam showers. They kept the Forking Dam Ashtray. It has a picture of the Forking Dam River. The Forking Dam Police were searching for the Forking Dam Campground to arrest the Forking men. They were not from Forking at all but just out of townies they had come to Forking Dam to Fish for Forking Fish. They went to the Forking Boat Dock and rented a Forking Boat the Indian Man in charge of the Forking Boat Dock said you out of townies speak with Forking tongue. But money green in Forking Dam. Good to see you Forking men. The Men in Forking Dam City are Forking gay. The Forking City Future Club is Oddfellows Hall.
    Eye am Forking, Ill. From all that Forking Fish they gave to me the nibbles and the bites the love all tied up in Forking Ville. They said that visit day is FrYdaY at the Forking Prison Institution they have a Forking Fish fry for religion they want me to go to Forking, Ill. And visit.

    end poem

    add :-) you have never seen a smile on a man still alive like this one on me in FORKING town