Monday, October 10, 2005

Late night insomnia reviews

Since I can't sleep anyway, I'll fill y'all in on things that don't suck and those that do a bit. One movie I keep seeing and a bunch of books I've read since August or so:

  • The Corpse Bride I've had death on my mind a lot recently and I've seen it twice. Both times I teared up a bit at the scene where the little kid goes "Grandpa!" I amy go see it again. That I'm seeing it multiple times is probably a little psychological dust devil of mine, but it really is a very good movie.

    And Victor is quite CSO-like in looks and manner, so much so that it was a little weird.
    It's like "The Nightmate before Christmas" but I think it is visually far more sophisticated. It's also a good deal less wacky.

  • Douglas Coupland's Hey, Nostradamus It's sort of weird to find usually comic author Douglas Coupland writing about school shootings. I'd only read a little bit of his stuff before and it seemed like it was mostly comedy, not that this book doesn't have funny moments and some weird twists. I like novels that deal with religion without being "religious novels" per se. Also, there's a conservative Christian in it and I began it hoping that somebody had actually written a mainstream book with a really sympathetic conservative Christian in it. (I don't think I've seen one since Clyde Edgerton's Raney.) Reg, the Christian, is pretty amazing by the end of the book, but he's still not sympathetic.

    Reminds me a bit of Don DeLillo's White Noise and gives one a similar feeling of having suffered an intellectual asskicking.

  • John Hassler's Grand Opening There was a time when I was really into coming of age stories. This book proves that time is over. Well written enough in its way, but overall? Meh.

  • W.A. Swanberg's The Rector and the Rogue was in a used bookstore I went to with Linguist Friend in July. Somehow it showed up in the trunk of my car last week. A very strange non -fiction book detailing a late-1800s practical joke played on a New York minister. Nice descriptions, lots of cool backstory and obvious affection for the prankster made this an unusual read. Way the hell out of print, but if you see a copy, pick it up.

  • T.C. Boyle's The Human Fly and other Stories was quite good as well. I find much of Boyle's work rather depressing. (Fellow UUs, in The Tortilla Curtain he's talking about us...) These stories were actually a little more varied that Boyle's usual "aren't people ever hypocrites" schtick. (Though of all the people who have that schtick, Boyle is the best I've ever seen at doing interesting things with it.)

  • Actually, the book I've most enjoyed all year thus far may be former New York Times food critic Ruth Riechel's autobiography Tender at the Bone, which does have a certain coming-of-age quality about it. I worry about myself liking a book that is so completely about food. The recipies in it look good, and the description of a souffle Riechel got at a Canadian friend's hoouse did send me to a French restaurant for ill-advised indulgence, but what really got me were Riechel's stories about growing up with a schizophrenic mother who inadvertantly poisoned her dinner guests on a fairly regular basis by serving them old food. Now THAT's a coming-of-age story I would like to have read more of. (The book does slow considerably after her childhood, but I still kept reading. She's not quite M.F.K. Fisher, but girlfriend can describe a meal.)


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