Monday, November 30, 2009

Closing Thoughts: High Fidelity

# of pages: 323
Pages read so far: 3,732
Avg pages/book: 311

Once again: Wow.

I hated this book.

You remember how I said I wanted Richard (of Neverwhere) to stop whining and get on with the story? High Fidelity's Rob is approximately six hundred times worse. I got the impression I was supposed to laugh at the guy's haphazardness, his childish inability to move past the latest live-in girlfriend to dump him, his awkwardness in the social scene, and his uncomfortable situations involving his ex, his mom, her mom, et cetera. But I didn't. Rob spent the entire book being petty and childish, and rather than finding it amusing I found it exasperatingly annoying.

I thought for awhile that the book was going to be a coming-of-age type tale, the journey of a man who's lost in life and finally is forced to learn to grow up and stop being a baby. And had that been the case, I would totally have been cool with selfish whiny emo Rob (who was 35, by the way, and having what seemed to be an early midlife crisis). However, Rob spent most of the book not WANTING to change. He was a jerk to pretty much everybody pretty much the whole time, and at the end of the day he still pretty much gets what he wants. And while the man talks a great deal about changes, and about re-ordered priorities, the last sixty or so pages don't seem to suggest that he really truly ever does.

Now, it is VERY likely the cast that I am just the wrong audience for this particular book. There wasn't really a character I liked or related to (except maybe for Dick and Anna). The majority of the film and music analogies the book pulled were lost on me, as I figured they probably would be. I was totally the kind of guy that the guys in this book would have ripped to shreds as soon as I'd walked out of their shop. In fact, it kind of felt like that's exactly what they were doing the entire time I was reading the book.

Hornby is a good writer, I can tell that. I liked his dialogue and his descriptions (the ones that didn't start with "She looked like particular actress from particular eighties movie", at least) and his narrative voice. And he told this particular story well. I just hated the story and everybody in it. So no hard feelings, Nick (as though you'd possibly be upset that some random book blogger didn't like your novel). I'll see you at A Long Way Down.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Book 12/60: High Fidelity by Nick Hornby


So the purpose of this project was to pick up and read some thing I wouldn't normally pick up and read on my own.

Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!

High Fidelity has been made into a movie and a Broadway musical. All I can tell from the comments and the synopsis on the back are that it's a very dry, witty examination of sex and masculinity from the viewpoint of a disenchanted thirty-something who has yet to "get it right," whether you're speaking relationships or sex. The guy also runs a record store, and so apparently a major part of the narrative is he and his employee buddies debating top five lists on all things pop culture.

In short, this book appears to be everything that I am not. I'm kind of excited about that, but hopefully it's not so full of jokes only to be understood by the in-crowd culturally speaking, because I haven't been too current on pop culture since Hammer Time was burning up the airwaves.

Not joking.

Anyway, love, sex, pop music, and cynicism, here I come!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Closing Thoughts: Walking on Water

# of pages: 198
Pages read so far: 3,409
Avg pages/book: 309.91

For all the stat-heads out there.

Anyway, Walking on Water is a book I'll recommend to pretty much any Christian who fancies themselves to be a writer or an artist of any sort. It's not particularly earth-shattering or sun-stopping, but it is a strong, enjoyable, insightful, and meditative look at both faith and art and the believer artist's responsibility to each. I won't say I always agreed (and if you always agree with any one person's personal philosophy of art, I wonder if something may be wrong), but I definitely believe she's on the right track more often than not.

See, Madeleine L'Engle is one of those people who make me hesitant to refer to myself as either "writer" or "artist." She's so dedicated to and passionate about her craft that there are times when I just don't think I should be aloud to count myself as one of "them." What's good about this is that Walking on Water has served as a personal challenge to my own writing (and I've come to realize recently how much impact my daily blog has had on my overall writing and storytelling) and art as well as my faith. Which, ultimately, is probably what a book like this SHOULD be doing.

The down side about that, however, is that I was up until three getting some words on paper toward my next play.

Anyway, the book itself: very good. Lots of things I wish I'd taken note of and written down somewhere so I could quote them here (and elsewhere as I found the quotes applicable later in life), but I never did, and I'm not sure where they were. I'm sure I'll give this one a re-read some day, and I'll pay closer attention then. I think L'Engle occasionally belabors her points just a tad, but I can forgive that. Her voice is clever, entertaining, and engaging, and it's interesting to see the some of the trends she notes as bad for literature and, as a result, bad for society as a whole, and how they have developed since the book's publishing. (Hm, wonder what Madam L'Engle would have to say about text messaging?)

Worth a read, if you like books on theory and theology that don't hit you over the head on either side while still giving you plenty to chew on.

My next book is an interesting change of pace from this one...