Thursday, August 24, 2006

Ryan encouraged everyone to do this, and I want to be a good-standing member of the local blog community. Plus, I enjoy making lists.

Book that:

Changed my life?
I'm not sure any book has changed my life. It's also a separate, largely semantical issue, but I'm also not sure my life has felt particularly stagnant in a long while. Since things seem to have been evolving at a pretty regular pace for quite some time now, correlating a change with any individual book seems all the more difficult. I'm not even sure I could say a particular book shaped the direction of that change or evolution in any conscious way (though, Howard Zinn's memoir You Can't Be Neutral On A Moving Train seemed especially meaningful to me when I read it a few years ago). Most of the ones in the next response, though, have contributed heavily to my evolving tastes and preferences.

I've read more than once?

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
(Michael Chabon)
Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
The Corrections (Jonathan Franzen)
Into the Wild (Jon Krakauer)
Into Thin Air (Jon Krakauer)
To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
My Dark Places (James Ellroy)
American Tabloid (James Ellroy)
The Rise and Fall of Diamonds (Edward Jay Epstein)
And the Band Played On (Randy Shilts)
The Virgin Suicides (Jeffrey Eugenides)
Jarhead (Anthony Swofford)
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (Dave Eggers)

I'd want on a desert island?
I don't know.

Made me laugh?
I think The Corrections is pretty funny, in a terribly excrutiating way. A lot of books have good jokes in them. No book has made me laugh the way America (The Book) has, though.

Made me cry?

Lots of books have made me cry, though I have a fairly expansive definition of "cry." The first three Harry Potter books have given me lumps in the throat and brought me to the brink of tears. The last paragraph of Kavalier and Clay always does it, too.

I wish had been written?

I don't wish to have written any of my favorite books. I'm quite happy with how they turned out with other people writing them. I am pretty in awe, though, of many of them for how they integrate a political sensibility in stories that are otherwise not overtly political. Of particular note, I think, are Kavalier & Clay and The Corrections. K & C has an interesting running interrogation of "escapism" in art and entertainment, and the politics of escapist pleasures, that I find gratifying, enriching and even challenging to notions I had prior to reading it. The Corrections impresses me for telling a story about globalization (or, the 21st century economy) through a family in the midwest; 'a family in the midwest' being, on the face of it, just about as apolitical (and, thus, ripe for political subtext) as you can get.

I wish had never been written?
I don't know.

I'm currently reading?
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (JK Rowling)
Beethoven: The Universal Composer (Edmund Morris)

I've been meaning to read?
A book Chris has about a school busing program called Common Ground. I'm told it's amazing. I have never finished Gravity's Rainbow, and would like to get all the way through it one day. I've owned a copy of Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution for some time, but have never actually read much of it.

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