Current/Recent Reading List

16 August 2006

Summer Wrap-Up, Part I

I've always relished opportunities to milk feelings of melancholy - go figure. I got my first little twinge this morning as I dropped off my son at Kindercamp for the next to last time this summer. Often when one of us has such feelings I love to liven up the house party by informing my wife that our son is growing up and soon we will be old and then dead. Not profound, nor particularly poignant, and usually gets me a wifely death stare (to fit in with the theme). But I digress.

Anyway, much more melancholia over summer's end tomorrow.

What was the best thing I read this summer? It is not a new book, but how about A Soldier of The Great War by Mark Helprin.

Helprin himself has a resume that would make 99% of the rest of us seem lazy, and dumb, in comparison. And, if he had never done anything else, this famous essay would have earned him my undying devotion. But, wow, here is novel that is such a feat, especially when compared with most bestseller material. Instead of the usual self-absorbtion and fetish for meaninglessness that populates most modern stabs at serious fiction, this is a book that mangages to be totally without sentiment, and yet life-affirming and funny. How about a little gallows humor from two men on death row?

"Well," said Ludovico, "socialism is effable, which is what I like about it. It's solid. Very little of it is conjecture. It may be limited, but it's honest and down-to-earth and you can prove it. It gives me something I know I can hang on to."
"Why don't you hang on to a toilet?"
"I'd rather hang on to a toilet than believe in a collection of wishful thoughts."
"Then, in that case," Alessandro answered, "all you need do is secure yourself a toilet and you will have solved the mysteries of the universe."

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