Books of Impact!

August 31, 2009

This is a response to something I did on Facebook. My friend Hume suggested that I (and many others) select fifteen books I’ve read that will always stick with you. Choose the first fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. In no particular order with further annotations:

  1. The Bible, edited by Jehovah – Okay, I don’t live by it, but I kind of agree with Northrop Frye that it is the template for most of Western Literature.
  2. The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis – Too Christian for me now, but I loved these stories at one time.
  3. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner – his crisp prose and mix of fiction and non-fiction showed me a different way of writing.
  4. Memory of Fire by Eduardo Galeano – this is what Pierre Berton could have done if he thought “continental.”
  5. The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. leGuin – beautiful story about “making choices.”
  6. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick – the basis for Blade Runner.
  7. Class by Paul Fussell – this book made me laugh at myself and secretly hope that I can return to my working-class ancestral roots.
  8. Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut – an ode to the art of illustration in a roundabout way.
  9. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – more prescient than 1984, assuming that both books are supposed to be prophecies.
  10. The Star Rover by Jack London – nice reincarnation story.
  11. The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow – words to live by: “a educated man with a business is a king.”
  12. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – I can’t believe I did it!
  13. East of Eden by John Steinbeck – pretty Biblical in its plot and themes, but makes you want to move to California.
  14. Content by Cory Doctorow – opened my mind to different ways of viewing content “ownership.”
  15. Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman – his mass media criticsm may seem quaint now, but he still makes some good points.

One person listed a series of magazines as one their “influential books.” This is a good line of thought to pursue. Why shouldn’t periodicals have as much influence on us as a book?


Customer Request – Bachelorette Analysis

July 28, 2009

My comments on the Bachelorette finale are filtered through the prism of Class by Paul Fussell, a great book that should be read by all.

Essentially, Jillian made the best choice, really the only choice for her. To have a successful relationship, Ed was her only hope.

First, they are from the same high proletarian social backgrounds. Jillian’s Dad wears trucker hats and talks like a real Canadian. Ed’s Dad thinks that he is nuts to risk his job to go on a big TV vacation and sounds like a charter member of Bill Swerkski’s Super Fans. You can see them bonding over monster truck matches, rodeos and football.

Second there’s the ethnic thing. Jillian’s Ukrainian. Ed’s Polish. They can have their 80,000 wedding guests gorge themselves on borscht, perogies, cabbage rolls and goulash. Kiptyn would have demanded cucumber sandwiches and vanilla ice cream.

Third, there are the Moms to consider. Kiptyn’s Mom was a typical snooty upper-middle-class ice queen, casting withering looks at the poor little Cinderella who presumed herself adequate to serve as her son’s bride. Ed’s Mom just wanted to know if Jillian would be their fourth in a round of cards. Relieved that Jillian is a true player, she gave her blessing. Aloha!

There were only three things missing from the finale, in my opinion:

  1. Juan should have had the chance to redeem his honour in a duel with Dave. After customarily slapping Dave in the face with a leather glove, the two should have taken up swords and battled in the halls and stairwells of the Bachelor house until one victor stood above the corpse of the other. Blood feuds are the ultimate arbiter of “man code.”
  2. Jake should have offered Wes a free, one-way ticket to Chihuahua, Mexico. As his plane nears the city, Jake could parachute out, offering Wes a chance to cement his fame the Buddy Holly way.
  3. Chris Harrison should have announced a new reality show starring Tanner P on a desert island with thirty gorgeous foot models. Instead of roses, each episode would climax (literally?) with Tanner putting glass slippers on the lucky contestants. Working Title: The Bachelor – If the Shoe Fits.

Thank God it’s over!