Sunday, June 24, 2007

Stuck in Bed = Reading Books Again!!!

I've spent the better part of this week in bed thanks to the return of a pinched nerve in my neck. It's kinda sucked (A LOT!) but on the bright side it has meant ample reading time.

I've been bothered by the fact that I don't read books anymore. I've got a ton unopened or unfinished on my shelf, and every birthday I ask for more. College has a way of sucking up all my reading time. Which is strange and cruel since it also gives me the most ready access to good books while I'm there. But all can't be blamed on academia. More than one night has been a showdown between the new Netflix arrivals and The Fall or some other novel, where Camus was defeated by Howard Hawks or Takashi Kitano.

These days my allure to movies has grown lax, as has my desire to write songs, which is a significant one, two, punch for me. With movies my appetite seems to lack a degree of its initial scholarly glee, while songs seem to have grown more derivative as I dance around that 400th song mark that I might even have passed unknowingly. In their place a return to prose has been mustered and fumbles through the summer with notions of a novel, now halted by my neck, distractions (like blogging and, more so till today, commenting) and my efforts to find information on the inner hull of the B17G Flying Fortress before writing the next chapter that will take place in one.

But in the weeks prior and this last week primarily, books have returned to my attention and have been a delight. The last semester or two at Piedmont were less than literary ones, with the exception of writing a book review on John Locke's Second Treatises of Civil Government. I'd filled my Philosophy and English requirements and had now the sciences and other remaining requirements to - not necessarily trudge through, as my teachers were fairly entertaining and kept things interesting, but get through nonetheless.

Now with UVA on the horizon, there has been a pleasant realization that I'm going to be returning now to the areas of primary interest to me. So, back to books I go!

Actually, most of my reading has been more for entertainment at this point, but one should build some momentum before jumping back into the dictionary thumpers. (I swear, any sense of insecurity towards run-on sentences in my writing was definitively humbled my Mr. Locke. I mean Jeez! I wanted to strangle the son of a bitch before I was through!) So, here's been my foray back into reflective light reading:

Neuromancer - William Gibson

To many the birthplace of cyberpunk, it clearly has set the tone for everything from the 80s on, making Gibson the wallpaper to Philip K. Dick's concepts on the big screen. The Matrix trilogy, Ghost in the Shell, it all started here baby.

Loved the style once I got my gears shifted to it. He's great at saying a lot with what he doesn't say and the spaces he leaves. The ending felt deflated in a weird way, but still fully satisfying. It made me want to read more of his work.

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency - Douglas Adams

Adams was the first time I had to deal with an artist that I was a huge fan of dying. As a result I never wanted to complete his work. I liked the idea that there was more of it out there. There are a few things out there still, but this would conclude his major literary works for me. It came up in a conversation with my girlfriend where she talked me into it. I borrowed her copy and enjoyed it immensely. I forgot that books can make you laugh out loud the way the bit with the horse in the bathroom did. A great book, series of interwoven chapters that all could have probably worked fine as standalone works. Some bits dark, others funny. Reading it after my grandmother passed made for an interesting experience as ghosts play a major role in the work and Adams describes them with unsettling detail. All around though it was a far better place for a fan to find closer than the unfinished third book in the Dirk series, Salmon of Doubt.

Pattern Recognition - William Gibson

Couldn't leave Gibson alone! Pattern was a delight to read. I love the concept of modern science fiction and how well he captures our world through his own strange literary lens. The way he writes chemistry between characters and his sense of disinterested climax now more realized and shaped. This is not a big explosions spectacle. It's like reading a fashion magazine Vanity Fair or Vogue and it actually being an interesting and engaging experience. (Love the song Sonic Youth did about the book as well!)

Right now, I'm picking things up a bit and reading The Armies of the Night by Norman Mailer. I've been meaning to get into Mailer since my senor year in high school. Rolling stone had a great interview with him for their 40th anniversary edition. I think in some ways that now is exactly the time for me to get into him. Becoming a Mingus head, I paradoxically feel a lot of the sentiments Mailer does about 60s rock and roll and thus the cultures that emerged from it. The Beats were the last of those great intellectual counterculture movements that rose out of post-World War I, and even they were too busy destroying their minds, as Ginsberg lamented in Howl, but I should stop myself before I get going on countercultures. It's been on my mind a lot lately.

So yeah, that's what's been up in my pinched nerve neck of the woods.

High Rotation:

The Traveling Mulberries - Traveling Wilburys I & III

Grinderman - Grinderman

Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero

The Clash - Black Market Clash


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