Having just read Mike Sowden’s Why I read, this seems like rather unfortunate timing. I only managed to scrape my way through three books in June. I blame TBEX, the fact that I was travelling like a madwoman, and John Irving. Also, several 12-packs of Corona and a mountain of burritos.
So now I have to read five books for July. Can I hack it? YES I CAN.
John Irving – The Cider House Rules
Raised from birth in the orphanage at St. Cloud’s, Maine, Homer Wells has become the protege of Dr. Wilbur Larch, its physician and director. There Dr. Larch cares for the troubled mothers who seek his help, either by delivering and taking in their unwanted babies or by performing illegal abortions. Meticulously trained by Dr. Larch, Homer assists in the former, but draws the line at the latter. Then a young man brings his beautiful fiancee to Dr. Larch for an abortion, and everything about the couple beckons Homer to the wide world outside the orphanage.
I dog-eared and quoted the shit out of this book (several of which are included below). Had the ultimate book hangover after I closed this one up for good. Irving is the kind of writer I aspire to be, but can only admire. Sob, sob.
“What is hardest to accept about the passage of time is that the people who once mattered the most to us wind up in parentheses.”
“The Winkles were in the business of manufacturing sensations for people who were so removed from any sensations of their own making or circumstances that only high (but simulated) adventure could provoke response from them at all. Dr. Larch was not impressed with the Winkles’ “business”; he knew they were simply rich people who did exactly what they wanted to do and needed to call what they did something more serious-sounding than play. What impressed Larch with the Winkles was that they were deliriously happy.”
“The Winkles appeared to greet the morning vigorously. Although Homer had never heard human beings make love, or moose mate, he knew perfectly well that the Winkles were mating. If Dr. Larch had been present, he might have drawn new conclusions concerning the Winkles’ inability to produce offspring. He would have concluded that the violent athleticism of their coupling simply destroyed, or scared to death, every available egg and sperm.”
Richard Adams – Watership Down
One of the most beloved novels of our time, Richard Adams’s Watership Down takes us to a world we have never truly seen: to the remarkable life that teems in the fields, forests and riverbanks far beyond our cities and towns.
It is a powerful saga of courage, leadership and survival; an epic tale of a hardy band of adventurers forced to flee the destruction of their fragile community . . . and their trials and triumphs in the face of extraordinary adversity as they pursue a glorious dream called “home.”
Side note: who writes these shitty summaries on Amazon?
Took me awhile to get into this book, as rabbits make tasty meals and it was hard to imagine them as anything other than a table centrepiece. But I swear by Frith, I had tears in my eyes when I finished reading. Definitely not a children’s book.
Chuck Klosterman – Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto
Whether deconstructing Saved by the Bell episodes or the artistic legacy of Billy Joel, the symbolic importance of The Empire Strikes Back or the Celtics/Lakers rivalry, Chuck will make you think, he’ll make you laugh, and he’ll drive you insane — usually all at once. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs is ostensibly about art, entertainment, infotainment, sports, politics, and kittens, but — really — it’s about us. All of us. As Klosterman realizes late at night, in the moment before he falls asleep, “In and of itself, nothing really matters. What matters is that nothing is ever ‘in and of itself.’” Read to believe.
Turns out I really enjoy Klosterman as an essayist, but not so much as a novelist. When I read the “Porn” chapter and he opened with “When exactly did every housewife in North America become a whore?” I realized that rage was a good indicator of how much I wasn’t enjoying this book.