It’s taken me two weeks to pick up The Stick tossed to me by weblog friend George M. Wallace, from his Fool in the Forest perch. It’s the 7-question quiz about reading habits that has been orbiting the blogosphere over the past few months. Just as I hate answering True/False questions without being allowed to drop footnotes, I can’t imagine answering questions about my reading habits by naming only one book at a time. Back when I was practicing law (and only reading about one book a year), a snapshot in time might have been illuminating, but I think a time-elapsed photo is needed to do this subject justice.
an open book
on the porch swing
Be forewarned: I am not going to alter my responses to appear higher-brow than I am in real life. Don’t be shocked — open yourself to the possibilities.
zoo peacocks in full array — the shirtless
fat man reads Shakespeare
…………………………………… by dagosan [May 13, 2005]
1. You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book do you want to be?
One Hundred Years of Solitude — by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It’s the first novel that I ever wanted to read twice (and then actually did). It brings a sense of humor, magic and irony to a deeply tragic world. It reminds us of the importance (and slipperiness) of memory.
2. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character? I hate to sound
ancient, but I really can’t remember whether I had “crushes” on characters in
books as an adolescent or young man — for one thing, there weren’t a lot of heroines featured in my reading list. (Does lust count?) My first crush on a movie actress playing a character from a novel was Julie Christie in Fahrenheit 451 (1966, when I was 16). That might have created the groundwork for a related crush-fantasy when I read the book shortly thereafter.
If a woman in a novel were a cross between medical examiner Kaye Scarpetta, M.D. (from Patricia Cornwell), bounty hunter Stephanie Plum (from Janet Evanovich) and U.S. Park Ranger Anna Pigeon (from Nevada Barr), I almost certainly would develop a crush.
click here for photo-poem
3. The last book you bought was…
– fiction: Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone [after enjoying I Know This Much is True] Snobs out there: Please don’t hate Lamb just because Oprah likes him. Ms. Winfrey makes some excellent book choices.
– non-fiction: Betrayed Profession by Sol Linowitz [food for the lawyer’s soul, and a good source for f/k/a sermons]
4. The last book you read was…?
— just finished: Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith [still great, after 25 years]
— A Fatal Glass of Beer by Stuart M. Kaminsky (audio) – a mystery featuring W.C. Fields; flawless narration by George Guidall (it’s got me “doing” Fields a lot lately)
— reading now: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, by [wunderkind] Jonathan Safran Foer. 9-year-old Oscar Schell is unforgettable.
— Legal Reason: The Use of Analogy in Legal Argument, by LLoyd L. Weinreb (2004). A few pages at bedtime and . . .
first day of spring
all the fly-fishing books
out of the library
6. Five books you would take to a desert island… After figuring out how to stay alive, I may be doing a lot more napping and daydreaming than reading on that desert island — and the five-book limit better not preclude large notebooks for writing haiku. That said, I hope to findthe following volumes in my island den:
Wilderness Survival — by Gregory J. Davenport. Forget Robinson Crusoe, I need non-fiction and lots of detailed advice (where the skills and energy will come from is another story).
Prayers from the Ark — by Carmen Bernos De Gasztold, translated by Rumer Godden. My first lesson in how much could be said (and unsaid) with just a few words.
The Painted Bird (1965) by Jerzy Kosinski. An important book in my life as a reader. The young protagonist’s struggle for survival in a brutish world is a call to conscience and a reminder of man’s capacity for evil. It is also a testament to the power of lean verbiage. [I’ve even got the Large Print edition, in case I lose my glasses.]
Plainsong (1999)– by Kent Haruf. With a very different kind of plain prose, Haruf shows how open minds and hearts can make “community” a reality among disparate folk, despite a world of problems. The compassion of the characters engulfs the reader.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th Ed., 2000 — or then-current edition). There’s is so much information in the 2000 pages, presented in such interesting and useful ways (and with great illustrations), that it’s a treat for any lover of the English language.
Yikes, I can’t count! Of course, I must take a volume of English-language haiku.
If I have to choose one, it would be
The Haiku Anthology (2000) by Cor Van Den Heuvel. It has 800 haiku from the best haijin of the past half century. If I could sneak one more book, it would be Haiku: This Other World by Richard Wright [author of Native Son], who discovered the wonder of haiku while living in Europe, and whose family published 817 of the poems years after his death.
the sun sets
7. Who are you passing this stick on to and why? I want to pass this Stick to my twin brother, Arthur, whose professional, community and family obligations have robbed him of the joys of pleasure-reading for far too long (as they once did me).
Since the Carrot hasn’t worked to get him to change his habits and find time for himself, I’m hoping the Stick will convince him that he needs to rediscover his inner avid-reader. (This might interfere with my campaign to have Arthur start a weblog.) I’m also passing the Stick on to the RiskProf, Martin F. Grace, because (1) I just love making work for our tenured friends, and (2) I’m curious to know how a law professor uses all that free time (and what his favorite children’s books might be)
update (May 14, 2005): It appears that a proper Stick should end with three Stickees, so I’m hoping the mysterious sarni at Infernality weblog, our shivering (from the cold, certainly not from fear) law student in Australia, will give others a glimpse into her curious and unique brain, which she has shared with me through email the past few seasons. What does she read when she is procrastinating?
Thanks, George, for getting me to contemplate questions that require a bit of self-awareness. I plan to be much more open to having crushes on heroine-protagonists.
p.s. You can find Evan Shaeffer’s Stick here. Speaking of Evan’s shtick, do you suppose he heard the fancy-schmancy beer segment on All Things Considered this afternoon? I’m not a beer fan, and not even the $100 per-bottle selection, with its sherry-like taste, nor the Black Chocolate brew (at $25 a bottle), tempt me. My ears pricked up, however, when “beer expert” Michael Jackson (this ain’t near-beer, so he’s not the Michael Jackson) asserted that many beers are priced too low. Don’t get me started. NPR is starting to annoy me.