Home > Uncategorized > A Year Under the Influences (part two): The Esoteric Matters

A Year Under the Influences (part two): The Esoteric Matters

Ultimately, none of these sources of inspiration are what the greenies would call “sustainable,” but they’re certainly a lot more fun and interesting than “I read about it in the Times.” Of course, the beauty of these inspirations is the spontaneous or temporary nature of their reign. It’s a beautiful thing…until you realize you’re a few hundred pages into a book you really don’t like, making you second-guess the bliss of such spontaneous selections.

Banning Books Sometimes Makes Me WANT to Read Them

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

I could cite a number of reasons I’d have gotten around to this book (maybe…eventually), but the process got microwaved when I read a news story about a school district in Richland, Washington reversing a ban on the book after actually reading it!

I probably shouldn’t be surprised that books in this day and age continue to be banned in response to bored busybodies who think they’re doing everyone a favor, but I am.

I probably shouldn’t be surprised that administrators who make these decisions sometimes (ofttimes?) make them while being wildly under/mis-informed on the matter, but I am.

I probably shouldn’t be surprised that some people in these positions might actually take time to educate themselves and then reverse course, even though doing so might put their prior work in a bit of a bad light, but I am.

So, while it could have been that the book itself won the National Book Award, or that Alexie can be very entertaining on his Twitter feed, or that I like that he’s a bit of a hoops head (even though the Sonics have left town, or that he and I reside in the same city, or even simply that I’ve liked what I’ve read of his in the past, it was a spectacular series of events in a town only a few hours by car from his birthplace that brought the book back into my field of view.

Ever See a Road with a Weird Name While on Vacation, Only to Later See a Book with the Same Name?

  • The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald

Happened to me!

The Missus and I were driving to Port Townsend on a Sunday evening for a little get-away when we saw a road sign for “The Egg and I Road.”

I’m not going to tell you we spent the rest of the journey trying to figure out why they’d given such an odd name to the road, but we also didn’t just dismiss it with a shrug and a “Weird…”

I don’t tend to miss an opportunity to browse a bookstore when on vacation. Port Townsend has a very enjoyable bookstore for such leisurely, vacation-paced perusing.

Achievement unlocked!

Eventually, I stumbled onto the local interest area where the title caught my eye, of course. Couldn’t wait to tell The Missus. Then I read that it was meant to be a humorous look at life on a chicken farm in the area.

Ah…now I get it.

A Sequel

  • The Magician King by Lev Grossman

Despite my affinity for science-fiction and fantasy as genres, I somehow generally have escaped being a reader of series. I did read David Eddings’ Belgariad books all the way through, as well as some of Fred Saberhagen’s Swords series, but that’s about it, unless you count Douglas Adams’ increasingly inaccurately named Hitchhiker trilogy, which I do not.

Combine that with the fact that I wasn’t nearly as impressed with The Magicians as I had wanted to be, and I can’t really believe I read this.

Rest assured (and I know it was going to bother you), I shan’t be continuing if/when there is another to come.

Cool Title/Cover Art

  • No Touch Monkey: And Other Travel Lessons Learned Too Late by Ayun Halliday
  • The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell
  • The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch

Considering I make fun of The Missus when she buys bottles of wine based on the label, I really shouldn’t be admitting that I do this, but…

Come on! If you’d not heard of The Reapers are the Angels prior to now, are  you going to tell me that name doesn’t just kinda grab ya?!

Of course, if you get a mediocre bottle of wine out the deal, you still drank half a bottle of wine, depending on how much faster than your spouse you imbibe. If you get a mediocre travel memoir, you might spend a week slogging through it, while just begging for it to be over, which is considerably less enjoyable than the grape juice that came in a bottle with a female pirate under a shiny, purple moon while stroking a vampiric cat.

I think that covers the things I see on a bottle of wine and then try to hide all the bottles in the store, knowing that if/when The Missus sees them, we’ll be buying one.

And, please, vinters of the world, stop it!

Anthony Bourdain Wouldn’t Completely Hose Me By Blurbing a Crap Book, Would He?

  • Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton

Aw, damnit! Yes, he would! You’re damned right he would! Didn’t you read Medium Raw and note that he’d clearly softened up quite a bit since Kitchen Confidential? DIDN’T YOU?!

Okay, I’m sure there’s a better explanation for Bourdain pimping the book than “he’s soft.” In fact, I seem to remember it getting good notices from both NPR and the New York Times Book Review, so maybe the problem is mine.

And that problem seems to stem from not really wanting to read someone’s whining about their life. I mean, someone dumps a four sentence paragraph on Facebook agonizing over something or other and I want to scream. Why would I want a few hundred pages of that from a complete stranger? Because they run a successful restaurant?

And, yes, I realize I’d put this book already in another category, as I did originally hear about it via NPR, but I am a big Bourdain fan; him giving his blessing was a clincher.

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