Monday, June 25, 2012

Thanksgiving 2000

Do you remember where you were Thanksgiving 2000?  I was on the Cape with my family, having driven down from Boston where I was in school.  It was gray, and I went for a run.  I remember that it was very empty - no summer tourists, so I was actually able to run on a busier road than I normally would have.  That's about all I remember.

The Lay of the Land is a very detailed look at the 3 days up to Thanksgiving 2000 in Frank Bascombe's life.  He's a 55 year old realtor on the New Jersey shore.  He does a lot of things and the novel is a commentary on society at the time, as well as a story of him and his life and kids and stuff.  I liked the book a lot - I liked Frank and I was glad to see the outcome at the end.  It was detailed and slow, but enjoyable.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ye auld blog post. Fer F's sake.

I started The Busconductor Hines and was just baffled by the dialect and profanity used in the book.  It was almost like a different language at first until I got used to it.  I finally figured it out about 100 pages in, and then the story went fairly quickly.

Robert Hines struggles with the monotony of his life.  The protagonist has a tough job as a Busconductor and lives in a no bedroom apartment with his wife and 4 year old son.  The circumstances of his life totally weigh on him.  Throughout the book, his wife suggests ways that they can get things better - such as moving to a different location, or saving money for a year with the eventual goal of possibly moving to Australia - but Hines can't ever seem to get it together to make a change.  Even at the very end, where he winds up quitting his job, he goes back to it after a little while because it would be foolish not to work the week's notice and get the extra money.

This is a moderately interesting portrait of working class life in Glasgow.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Why you aren't supposed to throw carrots in restaurants.

When Peanut was 2, she sort of understood the general rules but couldn't figure out the logic behind them.  For example, one time she tossed a carrot stick in a sandwich shop.

Me: Peanut, don't throw the carrot in the restaurant.
Peanut: You can't throw a carrot in the restaurant.  Other kids will want to play with the carrot.

You could tell she was sort of understanding how things worked, but couldn't really fully grasp the logic behind why yet - and in situations that were not directly related to health or safety, it took some time before she figured out the why behind the rules.  At 3.5, I promise that she hasn't thrown a carrot in a restaurant for at least a week or two.

I just finished Nadine Gordimer's book Burger's Daughter.  I felt a lot like Peanut while I was reading this.  I definitely got the gist behind what was going on, but I completely lack the historical/social context to understand the book more fully and clearly in the way the author intended.

Thus seems to be a recurring theme for me with these books.  I really enjoyed history when I studied it in high school but we obviously didn't cover the history of every country through every time period.  Hence, my knowledge of South Africa is very lacking.  I found this book was useful to help me understand in some small way what apartheid South Africa was like - but I can also tell it only scratched the surface.  I get that you aren't supposed to throw the carrot, but I don't understand why.