Monday, December 08, 2008

Reading and Wrapping

Recently rotated through the reading pile:

Bob Schieffer's America. Overall: an educated wind-down read. Politically astute and entertaining, short essays that can be scaled to whatever amount of time you have to spare. Schieffer is quite obviously unflappable and probably the most objective man with a microphone. From Section 1 ("How Washington Works - And Doesn't"): "The truth is, Washington does work. If it didn't, most of us would be leading far different lives under far different circumstances. But watching it too closely can be a nerve-racking, wrenching experience." Recommended.

Billy Collins' Ballistics. Some great moments ("Ornithography") and many typical one. I have a perhaps silly issue with Billy: If you're going to be conversational, please be grammatical. Surely it's too picky of me to want consistency in list construction (in verb phrase, verb phrase, the next phrase should be a verb, not a noun) and grammar ("you and I" over "you and me"). From "The Great American Poem": "But this is a poem, not a novel / and the only characters here are you and I / alone in an imaginary room / which will disappear in a few more lines." Okay.

Mark Doty's Dog Years, a memoir: Typical Doty prose stylings, openly flirting with sentimentality on and off (and acknowledged). Interesting construction, a little different than prior efforts. Acute observations on the larger issues contained in the death of a pet. From early in the book: "That's how sentimentality works, replacing specificity with a warm fog of acceptable feeling, the difficult exact stuff of individual character with the vagueness of convention. Sentimental assertions are always a form of detachment....." Recommended for Doty fans and fans of memoir.

Also on the nightstand: A Christmas Carol, out for its annual reading. Some Christmas presents, awaiting my annual Christmas Eve wrapping rush. Christmas with The New Yorker, awaiting me to be in a cynical enough mood to open it up again.

So I like Christmas. More to come on that.

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