75 Books, Books #2-3

I apologize for setting all of my ducks in a row. But if I hope to get 75 books under my belt, then this essentially means 6-7 books/month. As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of thickass and “difficult” books. But I’m also a fan of living. And if I hope to have any semblance of a life, then that means getting the hard tally out of the way as early as possible. Either that or giving up this blog and holing up in motel rooms with whores.

On the thickass book front, I’ve just started Elliott Perlman’s Seven Types of Amiguity (not to be confused with Empson’s) in an effort to see what all the fuss was about in Australia. But since we’re talking seven perspectives and a plot wound tigher than Alberto Gonzalez’s ass, I’m thinking this might take a good chunk of January. I’m also still reading David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green and Megan and I have something special lined up for that. More details to come.

Here are the books I knocked off over the weekend:

Book #2 was Linda Greenlaw‘s The Lobster Chronicles. The book had been sitting for a while in my TBR pile. I had picked this book up because I am especially galvanized by self-sufficient women who know more about such esoteric topics as catching lobsters and living off the land than I do. After reading the David Foster Wallace collection, Consider the Lobster, part of me (that shameful carnivorous facet, I suppose) wanted to hear the other side of the story. And it was as good a time as any to pick up the Greenlaw book.

The verdict: Greenlaw is a good, if highly digressive storyteller, the kind of dependable person who will tell you a no-bullshit tale in a bar. I particularly enjoyed her depictions of the crazed inhabitants of the very small island she lived on and Greenlaw’s efforts (with her somewhat clueless dad in tow) to figure out lobster traps, attempting to turn a long-term offshore fishing career into a lobster-catching career, with the question of whether she should snag a man not unignored. As an urban dweller, it never hurts to be reminded that there are people out there who are busting their asses to catch the delicious seafood that we take for granted. Greenlaw doesn’t romanticize the industry in explicit terms, but she does give you a sense of what it’s like to be there. There were a few dry spots in which my urban-centric mind attempted to wrap itself around the nautical jargon. But I eventually caught the gist and, once I had, the book was over.

The consensus here is that I’m likely to check out Greenlaw’s other books, as well as anything else out there which might get me a sense of the sea. (I should note also that a few friends seem to think that I was a fisherman in a previous life. I have no idea why seafaring tales appeal to me so much, other than the fact that I am naturally drawn to the salty air, hard-working folks who don’t bullshit you, and what seems to me the miracle of staying alive, financially speaking, doing what you love in an industry in which you could easily go broke tomorrow.)

Book #3 was Phil Campbell‘s Zioncheck for President. Now before I offer my thoughts, allow me to declare any conflicts of interests right off the bat. I should point out that Mr. Campbell himself approached me at last year’s LBC Slipper Room party and asked me to read his book. Now I’m not about to say no to anyone with that kind of initiative (particularly because he was nice). But I’m not necessarily going to instantly love something that is written by someone who I know, even vaguely.

So it was something of a pleasant surprise that I enjoyed Campbell’s memoir. The book chronicles the failed campaign of one Grant Cogswell, running for City Council in Seattle just after the WTO riots. Campbell himself is involved as Cogswell’s campaign manager (along with attempting to manage an apartment building, which quickly falls by the wayside while the Cogswell campaign hits full gear as a crazed tenant named Doug takes over). Further, Campbell contrasts Cogswell’s campaign with one Marion Anthony Zioncheck, a 1930s idealist who served in Congress and eventually went insane. The Zioncheck-Cogswell comparisons didn’t hold all that much water for me, but Campbell’s sincere voice certainly did. How many political memoirs have you read where it’s all about some insider’s unquestioning endorsement, even after the fact? Well, in this case, Campbell’s just trying to get through the day. And it’s this approach that not only allows us an interesting glimpse of what Seattle’s local politics are about, but the unflinching problematics of championing an idealist.

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  1. I’ll be curious to read what you thought of the Perlman. I enjoyed reading it, but had several problems with it.

  2. I thought 7 Types of Ambiguity was great. Loved the whole “what REALLY happened” thing. Gets at the idea of whether there really is an objective truth. Whether we really truly communicate, etc. It demonstrates how each person is the main character of their own lives and how much we contrue from passing glances with others. Curious about the problems though, what were they?

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