Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Book Junkie | iSuggestions for Books & Other Whatsis Along the Way

Greetings! I trust you're having a merry new year. To help muddle through whatever else winter may have in store for us here in the Pacific NW, I’d like to offer up a selection of books (& one DVD) that I enjoyed in 2006, and hope you have time to read one or two.

Escaping the Delta. Elijah Wald. This book will change the way you listen to the blues. Although a scholarly work, it reads like a novel. The core figure is Robert Johnson, yet he remains the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle. If you had asked any of Johnson’s contemporaries about him, with the exception of the very few that lived in his small part of the Delta, your questions would be met with a resounding, “Who?” This book also has a lot of information on women in the blues.

Moby Dick. Herman Melville. This was my summer project. Whew! Everyone thinks they know that this book is about the obsessed sea captain and the white whale. It is, but out of 650 pages, only about 50 pages are spent on that story. Instead, you learn everything about whales and whaling. And the language! All told from the viewpoint of a 19th century sailor who has read all of Shakespeare and is trying to write like the immortal bard himself. You keep turning pages just to see if Melville can keep it up. And he does.

Chronicles. Bob Dylan. Bob is sort of like Starbucks these days; he seems to be everywhere. I enjoyed this book. But then again, I like Bob. He seems to write from the persona of a really smart guy pretending to be a regular Joe pretending to be a really smart guy. Tiresome part: The “fame and fortune is such a drag” song and dance. If fortune and fame is a drag, then give all your money away and go bag groceries. I mean, look, Gary Coleman did, and he became governor of California. Didn’t he? This leads us to:

Masked and Anonymous. DVD. Written by Bob Dylan and Larry Charles (Seinfeld director). Directed by Larry Charles. I think this film, which made many critics' lists of worst movies of 2003, is really misunderstood! And not just because I like Bob. Instead of putting the story into the context of Dylan's songs, I think he was trying for the magic realism style of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Like most of Garcia Marquez, it takes place in a mythical South American country. John Goodman, Luke Wilson, and Bob himself play a sort of holy trinity of Bobness. Plus Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange. What's not to like?

Of Love and Other Demons. Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This novella or long short story is so achingly beautiful it doesn't need to be a page or a word longer. As in many of his stories, characters seem to shift through time, so that a character struck by lightning (literally), pops up later. Dreamlike.

Well, I'm off to cram in some leisure reading for "Book Lust 101." If I come across something racy or particularly adventuresome, I'll pass it along.


Joyce Hansen, MLIS
Editor Silverfish,'06-'07
The Silverfish Blog, Feed & eNewsletter

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