Sunday, March 29, 2009

and what now?

I'm pretty excited about this book: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It's made quite a little stir in the book community, and I just love it when books are in the news. The book is apparently Jane Austin's original text with the added story line of zombies overtaking Elizabeth Bennett's village. The authors are actually listed as Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
has just about the coolest cover illustration I've ever seen. While I'm not really a fan of either Jane Austin or the zombie genre, something in me really wants to read this...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Big Sleep

The book club wanted to read a "hardboiled" detective novel, so we settled on The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler's first Philip Marlow novel, published in 1939. It was fun reading such a great example of the genre, even though the language seems a little corny or cliched today.

At first I thought I wasn't going to be able to make it through, Chandler's book is chock-full of adjectives and I prefer a tighter prose. Chandler never met an adjective he didn't like. Or a simile. Here's a two-fer: The purring voice as now as false as an usherette's eyelashes and as slippery as a watermelon seed.
It must have been exciting, we remarked at book club, to read this stuff for the first time, when the genre was new.

She blew a soft gray smoke ring and poked her finger through. It came to pieces in frail wisps. She spoke smoothly, indifferently. "In his early forties, I should judge. Medium height, fattish. Would weigh about a hundred and sixty pounds. Fat face, Charlie Chan moustache, thick soft neck. Soft all over. Well dressed, goes without a hat, affects a knowledge of antiques and hasn't any. Oh yes. His left eye is glass.

Now, that's hilarious. And marvelous, isn't it?

I've read a lot of Dashiell Hammett, who I like because his books are quite amusing and he lived in San Francisco just a few blocks from our apartment. I like how Nick and Norah always referred to their apartment building by it's name, and M and I tried to get people to say, "Let's go over to the Warrington for a drink" but it never really caught on. I suppose The Big Sleep should be read by Angelinos just like I read Hammett in SF. When it comes to noir, I'd say Chandler really comes in and kills it in a way that Hammett doesn't. Even though Chandler's book is fairly convoluted, with one exception it makes sense, and his dialogue!

"My God, you big dark handsome brute! I ought to throw a Buick at you."

I snicked a match on my thumbnail and for once it lit. I puffed smoke into the air and waited.

"I loath masterful men." she said. "I simply loathe them."

"Just what is it you're afraid of, Mrs. Regan?"

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I sorta wrote my art history master's thesis on the color yellow, so, naturally my interest is a little piqued when I hear about similar studies. I swear I read a different description of this book when I ordered it... it wasn't anything like I thought it would be, but, who cares? Sometimes we stumble onto things.

The book is called (what else?) Yellow, by Janni Yisman, a British writer (who went to the Slade, no less). Yisman and I clearly share some common ground on color theory, and particularly yellow color theory, but the book just minimally touches on those subjects. It's about an agoraphobic (hey, another shared interest!) and work-from-home (naturally) aromatherapist who's suspicious of the guy she's dating.

Without going into the details of the plot, I'll say that Visman's book is quite interesting for the way she very sparingly writes about rather luscious things like scents, touch, peeling and eating, for example, an orange. For example:
Ylang-ylang for shock.
Tangerine for emotional emptiness.
Rosemary for disorientation.
The oils are effective. I am neither languid with despair nor rigid with anger.

She has an ascetic style:
On my left foot, I have a red shoe. On the right I have a blue. The cat is watching me look at my feet.

When I first started reading it, I thought, Oh dear god, not more of the soi-disant 'prose stylings'! I was afraid I'd fallen into another Never Let Me Go, although it's not nearly as agonizing as that. In fact it's hardly agonizing at all! Now, what kind of recommendation is that?

If someone in the continental US wants to read it, I will gladly mail it to you!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Your Disgusting Head

I've been sick lately, and unable to think about much less than my sinus-infected, puss-filled head (ugh) - so, to distract me, I pulled out my copy of Your Disgusting Head, ostensibly by Dr. and Mr. Doris Haggis-on-Whey, but really by Dave Eggers et McSweeney's crew.

Starting with the rather gorgeous cover design (Acclaimed worldwide and translated into several languages, including Texan), it's full of hilarious text and amusing illustrations. Chapters like Where Does all the Snot Come From and How to Choose the Best Tongue for You (subheading: Caring for Your New Tongue) are the sort of things you'll find inside, hopefully, effectively distracting you from your own disgusting head for a while.