Wednesday, March 16, 2005

So many books, so little time?

Not on a desert island.

I've been tagged by Hip Liz, so I am forc-ed, in the name of the leuaw, to make a few choices. It's cool, though, 'cause it's way more fun than working.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Welll, let's see...not unless the women painted by Frank Frazetta , especially
this one (though not for obvious reasons), for the covers of Conan books and E. R. Burroughs adventures count. Much like Hip Liz, I mostly read Tolkien, RE Howard, and Lovecraft as a young 'un, and a lot of history. So, I suppose those women aren't fictional literary characters, but they represent them, and, uh, you know I, uh, wasn't all that deep about things like that, especially as an adolescent. I remember being captivated with a photo portrait of Winston Churchill's mother, but know.

The last book you bought is:

Hey Rube: Blood Sport, the Bush Doctrine, and the Downward Spiral of Dumbness--Modern History from the Sports Desk . Of course, I am doubly glad I bought it due to the subsequent weird passing of its author. Thompson appealed to me deeply. It sometimes didn't matter what he wrote about, I just wanted the slash and burn of his style. I was introduced to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in college by a wise and far seeing roommate, and there was no turning back. Though I'd grown up a lot by then and become someone who could join a crowd, I still had the habits and the bent of the basic social outsider that I'd become in high school. I suppose Thompson showed how powerful that could be. That's a weird thing to say considering that his modus operandi was to become part of the story and write it from the inside out. Still, I felt he was speaking to the outsider inside me. Still does. Always will. As he often wrote, "We're not like the others."

The last book you read:

I get so little time to read. Essentially, I do all my reading these days in the very few minutes between going to bed and falling asleep, or when sitting on the head on weekend mornings. Crass, you say? Yes, but honest. I think the last thing I actually completed was Michener's South Pacific. I have to say that after I'd finished I sort of felt like, "Well, that was pretty good in spots, but what was all the fuss about?" I much preferred his Rascals in Paradise. There's a great read. That book transported me completely out of the mundane. I felt the tropical heat and torpor, and the amazing caress of tropical lagoons which are neither warm nor cool, but somehow both, just when they need to be. If I had my way, I would have the gelt to take my family and wander around the South Pacific for a couple of years. Ahoy! Now I have to read it again.

What are you currently reading?

Two things...The Garrett Files, and Quartered Safe Out Here. The former I find tedious, but I told someone I'd read it. He was enthusiastic and knows that I am into detective fiction and film noir, especially Out of the Past. This one started out so well, but it just keeps going, and going, and going, and well, it's like an interminable tough guy act which progresses just a bit faster than Mendenhall Glacier. Having said that, it's got some good passages and creates visions the way a good book should. I just wish it would hurry up and get to the denoument.

The latter is one of the most absorbing and gripping books I've ever read. It isn't scenes of combat, it's the minutiae of soldiering and the image Fraser gives of being in the last manifestation of Mr. Kipling's Army. It's Fraser's characterizations of his squad mates. It's the swagger inherent in the men who fought in Burma in the forgotten corner of World War Two. They were up against it and prevailed in the end, and no one could tell them they hadn't gone through the worst offered by Man and the Elements, and come out the other end. Fraser's pride in that and in his mates is evident throughout. Definitely a kind of tough guy's book, but deeply human nevertheless, and honest as they come, I think.

Five books you would take to a deserted island.

Wow. This depends on the day. There's probably no way that next Wednesday the list would be entirely the same as today. Two things come to mind, though, for any day. One would be either the latest edition of the National Geographic Atlas, or the Times Atlas of the World. My Wife says its nerdly, but I like to sit and read the maps, for no particular reason. My Wife is right, but I don't care. If I can't go there, I can at least see where it is and plan a trip that may or may not happen. That's only the first reason to sit and gaze at the atlas. The list is endless. It is my fondest hope that Daring Dayton feels the same as he one day (hopefully) sits with one in his lap and gazes at it for hours.

Another would have to be The Lord of the Rings, if only because it is a monolithic literary. . . thing in my life. I read it and its appendices over and over and over. It is indescribable in its importance to me. You can assign to that statement any speculation you like. For some reason, right now I am unable to go further with that.

For the rest, today's list would be The Great Shark Hunt, by HST. See above on why Thompson.

Goodbye Darkness. World War Two was my father's war. He too served with the Marines, briefly in the Pacific, throughout the war. Happily, he was invalided stateside with a tropical parasite or I might not be here. All but 4 members of his company of the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines were killed, most at Tarawa in the tragic fourth wave. This is another heartfelt war memoir by another incredible author. I see names of people and places I used to hear at the dinner table. I first read this when my view of things like this was changing from a Childhood/Hollywood viewpoint to something more complicated that I haven't really figured out yet. There's repulsion that anyone goes ever through this kind of thing, along with a sense that for some, like Winston Churchill, it's a great adventure. How would I react?

Last but not least, Silent World, by Cousteau. I first read it as an assignment from a friend who was certifying me for Scuba diving. It was great motivation and Cousteau's image of flying underwater helped relax me when some tiny hitch, real or perceived, in the air flow would give me the woolly boogers. Presumably, if I'm on a desert island, I would have access to the ocean and the urge to swim in it and under it would be irresistable.

Who are you going to pass this stick to and why?

Good God. I 've no idea. The only people I really am connected to here have already passed it to each other. Sending it to anyone else feels kind of presumptuous. Roy passed it to Hip Liz who passed it to me. Aha! I pass it to Jean Lafitte, just because most everything else he's written is interesting and worthwhile and I knew him way back when.

Now, HL, when next free, bear west by southwest and make for the whisky cabinet well back from the Contra Costa shore. We shall sing songs of plunder and guzzle and swill laugh at the devil. Oh yeah, you can read the books too.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everybody is taking Tolkien to the island. Nobody is taking Lord of the Flies, which might actually be useful. We're all a bunch of nerds. At least you have good scotch.


4:35 PM  
Blogger Don said...

Very well done. I missed a great deal when I didn't get to know your father nearly well enough.

Have you alerted Jean as to his assignment? I gather he comes round but rarely. If you want I'll send the nudge.

I wonder where it would go from there? Off into unexpected branches of the twisting Mandelbrot that is the blogweb, no doubt.

4:43 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

Well, Nobody, you have a point there, but would "Lord of the Flies" be useful if you were alone? Anyhow, we are a bunch of nerds, but that's a good thing now, and good scotch is its own reward...just like Funk.

4:57 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

I say, Hip Liz, how do you get those cool designs and photos on your comment? Or how about that Moon thingie on your page?

Anyhow, thanks. Indeed, Dad was one of a kind. I think about him nearly everyday, and I usually chuckle at some point. I have not alerted Monsieur Lafitte. Feel free to nudge him. I would be interested to see what he comes up with, and where he'll send it.

4:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

good scotch is its own reward...just like Funk.

Tear the roof off, baby. Now I gotta go get my Parliament CD. My family will not thank you.

7:58 AM  
Blogger Harry said...

Oh but they will. someday they will. Just have them repeat over and over,


8:52 AM  

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