Raising Readrum from the Ashes

This article is hardly news, published as it was in 2003. Still, given that I recently witnessed friends scrabble over some used Dark Tower paperbacks and nearly come to blows, and given that we're nearly on the eve of the final apotheosis of Harry Potter, it's worth reading.

I'll withhold my own opinions for a bit and just say --

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Lost in Translation?

So, I'm sulking over the Redskins loss and a few beers deep, and I was going to post reviews of the books I've read over the past couple of months, as I've been meaning to and they're piling up. Good stuff, and across a spectrum of writing styles: Murakami, Amis, Capote, Franzen, and now McKewan. But I want to dedicate a little bit of time towards that post, specifically about the Murakami and Amis books, so I'll do later when I'm not up to my waist in Miller Light and overly-interested in how my fan oscilates.

But, I was just thinking about something just now in relation to the Murakami book, Sputnik Sweetheart Obviously I don't read Japanese. I don't understand Japanese. I don't speak it. In fact, I can't even think off the top of my head how to say "thank you" in Japanese and am pretty sure I'm getting it mixed up with with "hello". Or maybe "goodbye". The rest of my knowledge of Japanese comes from the movie Lost in Translation and a few unfortunate pornos I've seen over the years. At the same time I also happened to have stumbled into a career teaching my own language to other people and am becoming, through the course of my studies, well aware that language is simply the physical production of pure thoughts, emotions, and ideas.

Thing is, when we want to read what is said to be a masterpiece in one person's own language, we're at the mercy of a translator and his/her translation. But those of us who are basically mono-lingual sometimes make it a stated goal to learn another language to the point of being able to understand something like 100 Years of Solitude, because somehow we get it into our minds that something islost in translation and that somehow reading it in the original language makes the experience a bit more pure.

What do you guys think?

For me, it's a catch-22. When I think of how unique every language is and how unique the thoughts, ideas, and emotions expressed in that language are, I'm sure that no matter how good the translation, something's missing. On the other hand, I'm well aware that even if I went and boned up on my French or totally went full-boar with studying Spanish, there's no way I'm going to GET Les Mis or 100 Years of Solitude. I'm sure I could understand it, yeah, but get it? Because I'm an English teacher I've come to appreciate (and almost despair over) how complicated this language really is, and English isn't special in that regard. Would Tom Robbins work in Spanish? Are we really getting everything we can out of Gabriel Garcia Marquez in English?

I'm not going to make a poll about this because it's entirely too much work, but I know there are a few people in this community who are very comfortable in more than one language so, really, what do you think? And for the rest of us: Is it pointless to think that one day we'll be able to read Gabriel Garcia Marquez in the original Spanish; Paulo Coehlo in the original Portuguese; or Haruki Marukami in the original Japanese?

Grab a beer and discuss!

(no subject)

1. Walk/reach over to the bookcase nearest your computer and grad the book that your navel is more or less pointing towards.
2. Tell us what book your navel picks
3. Give us some autobiographical information about where you were when you read that book, how old you were, whether or not it did anything for you, etc.

Black Spring by Henry Miller was given to me by my roommate in September of 2003 when the poet I was in love with moved to New York. Well, at least I thought I was in love with him. I suppose I was in love with a poet, but it turned out that he wasn't much of a poet in the traditional sense of the word. I read it in bits and pieces through several coffee shops on my odd days off working as a photographer in Austin, Texas. It gives me thick air, getting over things/ideas/motives/anticipation/expectations/poets, and the cracking of a spine other than mine. Henry Miller, keeping sex dirty and words dirtier. You can't help but love to hate him.
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Nine Questions

I almost NEVER post to this community, not because I don't like it but because I feel like I don't read enough... but really, that's a personal problem (cuz, if I could I'd read 24 hours a day... well, read and drink...) so, I figured I'd better (as Little Richard says) put down the mustard and catch up.

1. One book that changed your life.
I was all set to say Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon because it's fantastic and showed me that the things that I want to write can be written, but the truth is it's actually Z.Z. Packer's Drinking Coffee Elsewhere because she totally expresses everything I've ever wanted to express about myself in this superb collection of short stories.

2. One book you've read more than once.
The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead.

3. One book you would want on a desert island.
Probably a copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude in the original Spanish... cuz when you're on a desert island you have a lot of time to figure out how to read Spanish and I bet it's totally better that way.

4. One book that made you laugh.
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris.

5. One book that made you cry.
The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor. For real? For real.

6. One book you wish had been written.
I often wonder if the copy of Toni Morrison's Jazz that was lost in a fire was much different from the one that was actually published.

7. One book you wish had never been written.
The first book by Zane because it lowered the bar for "black fiction" tremendously and gave people an excuse to not actually challenge themselves or even engage their brains while reading. And yet still feel legitimate.

8. One book you are currently reading.
Music for Torching but A.M. Holmes

9. One book you have been meaning to read.
The most recent Harry Potter. I thought I'd read it then I realized I totally haven't. My life is a mess.

Navel Challenge

1. Walk/reach over to the bookcase nearest your computer and grad the book that your navel is more or less pointing towards.
2. Tell us what book your navel picks
3. Give us some autobiographical information about where you were when you read that book, how old you were, whether or not it did anything for you, etc.

My bookcase is low to the ground, so I substituted closing my eyes and groping blindly along the top shelf. And I choose...

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

I think I read this book somewhere around December 2003, because I wanted to read it before the movie came out. I was 22, depressed about having graduated from college, didn't have a real job, and working at a health club. Pretty much the same as now--although I did have real job in between. I remember enjoying the book, particularly the poetic quality of his writing and the love story between the main characters. I'm a Southerner so I'm intrigued by the Civil War, plus I live near the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, which made me appreciate his descriptions.

Sadly, I remember more about the movie than I do about the book. Specifically, that Nicole Kidman is incapable of speaking with a Southern accent and that you can't substitute Romania for North Carolina. I was completely distracted in one climatic scene because it looked like they were in the Himalayas.
Lonely Planet

The Silent Majority

I know I've approved membership requests from a few people who are still hanging around off to the side, possibly waiting for this community to come back to life. Again. Well kids, the DJ just put Bill Jean on, so it's time to dance! If you've recently joined but haven't said anything, please tell us a thing or three about yourselves, and then maybe complete one of our random book surveys.

As for the rest of you...oh, I don't know. How about this:

1. Walk/reach over to the bookcase nearest your computer and grad the book that your navel is more or less pointing towards.
2. Tell us what book your navel picks
3. Give us some autobiographical information about where you were when you read that book, how old you were, whether or not it did anything for you, etc.

Since I just finally, sorta kinda (I think) finished moving, and now have a functioning bookshelf for the first time in waaaaay more than a year, I'll give it a try:

And my navel selected...Empire Falls by Richard Russo. Good pick, navel! I've probably talk about this book before, but no matter, this time I'm contemplating my navel's book choice. I bought this book during one of ballijaswal and I's tri-weekly trips to Barnes and Noble after she read it and said lots of writerly stuff about characters "jumping off the page" or some other nonsense. It was the latter part of the summer, 2004, and I was living in my Fake Mom's house in Fairfax, Virginia and commuting into DC every day to work at a non-profit. I read the book almost entirely on the Metro rides to and fro Vienna and McPhereson square, and would read whether I was sitting or standing. The book itself is superbly written, and probably one of the most light hearted I've read that is still shocking and sad througout. But really, what I remember most is the Metro rides.

See? Have fun!
Oscar Wilde

Nine Questions

1. One book that changed your life.
There have been many books that immediately upon putting them down I've been like, "DAMN!"...but to one that has changed my life? Maybe Animal Farm by George Orwell, because more than any other work of fiction it looked at how people behave in power in a creative and ultimately very, very dramatic way. I don't think any book has ever made me sadder.

2. One book you've read more than once.
The Sun Also Rises by Hemmingway

3. One book you would want on a desert island.
I don't know...Life of Pi?

4. One book that made you laugh.
Straight Man by Richard Russo

5. One book that made you cry.
Well, obviously REAL crying is for girls, Frenchman, and common Democrats, but I'll admit I came close a few times during Love in a Time of Cholera. I really did.

6. One book you wish had been written.
Whatever J.D. Salinger might have written had fame and his reclusivity stunt got the better of him.

7. One book you wish had never been written.
Wuthering Heights. Right, lauraisrad?

8. One book you are currently reading.
Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Marukami, and I'm totally loving it. Like, already blown away.

9. One book you have been meaning to read.
Humbolt's Gift by Saul Bellow

Used Book Sale

Today I went to a used book sale, and I can tear a used book sale up. I love books, and since my mother is the discount/coupon queen, I also love bargains. I'm not exactly sure what the sale was benefiting, I think something to do with women and literacy. A charity would have to be really horrible, like the Society for Clubbing Baby Seals, before I would refuse to support their used book sale.

Still, 15 books for $15 is a fantastic deal. And I managed to find decent stuff in between all the Danielle Steele and John Grisham. Have any of you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

1. Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer
2. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
3. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
4. Floating in my Mother's Palm by Ursula Hegi
5. Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland
6. Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson
7. The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
8. The Orchard Keeper by Cormac McCarthy
9. Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee
10. Elizabeth Costello by J.M. Coetzee
11. The Sweet Hereafter by Russell Banks (re-read)
12. The Lord is My Shepherd: Healing Wisdom of the Twenty-third Psalm by Harold Kushner (for Dad)
13. The Face of Battle by John Keegan (for my friend HR)
14. One-Night Stands with American History by Richard Shenkman & Kurt Reiger (probably also for HR)
15. Access 2000 for Windows for Dummies by John Kaufeld (trying to improve my computer skills)
bucky is artiste.

just one?

1. One book that changed your life.
still life with woodpecker by tom robbins

2. One book you've read more than once.
the sound and the fury by william faulkner

3. One book you would want on a desert island.
the oxford english dictionary, unabridged. ;)

4. One book that made you laugh:
a heartbreaking work of staggering genius by david eggers

5. One book that made you cry.
the time traveler's wife by audrey niffenegger

6. One book you wish had been written.
i'm not down with sequels but i think richard brautigan could have had a field day with today's world. i guess that means that i wish he had written a 21st century novel.

7. One book you wish had never been written.
portrait of a lady by henry james

8. One book you are currently reading.
the woman who walked into doors by roddy doyle

9. One book you have been meaning to read.
la diva nicotina by iain gately
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50 Book Challenge: Done

I should have posted this like a month ago, but bear with me. The "Read 50 books in a year" challenge has been completed. It began in December 2005 and ended in July 2006. So I'm posting my reading list, bolding books I especially liked, and giving some favorites and disappointments at the end.

1. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
2. All Marketers are Liars: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World by Seth Godin
3. Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner
4. Prep by Curtis Sittenfield
5. Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland
6. The Wellness Revolution by Paul Zane Pilzner
7. Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott
8. Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper by Diablo Cody
9. When Katie Wakes by Connie May Fowler
10. As Hot as It Was You Ought to Thank Me by Nanci Kincaid
11. A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland Indiana by Haven Kimmel
12. The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon
13. According to Kotlar: The World's Foremost Authority on Marketing Answers Your Questions by Philip Kotlar
14. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max
15. The Working Poor: Invisible in America by David K. Shipler
16. Thank You for Smoking by Christopher Buckley
17. In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner
18. It’s My F---ing Birthday by Merrill Markoe
19. Under the Bridge by Rebecca Godfrey
20. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
21. 101 Great Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions by Ron Fry
22. Night by Elie Wiesel
23. How to Write Better Resumes and Cover Letters by Pat Criscito
24. Day by Elie Wiesel
25. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
26. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
27. Interview Strategies that Lead to Job Offers by Marilyn Pincus
28. The Idiot Girls’ Action-Adventure Club by Laurie Notaro
29. Dinner with a Perfect Stranger: An Invitation Worth Considering by David Gregory
30. The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown
31. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
32. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
33. Next Day Job Interview: Prepare Tonight and Get the Job Tomorrow by Micheal Farr
34. The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler
35. Town Smokes by Pinckney Benedict
36. Gilead by Marilynne Robison
37. The Bitch in the House: 26 Women Tell the Truth about Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood, and Marriage Edited by Cathi Hanauer
38. Great Answers! Great Questions! For Your Job Interview by Jay Block and Michael Betrus
39. 100 Strokes of the Brush Before Bed by Melissa P.
40. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
41. Nobody’s Angel by Karen Robbards
42. White Trash Etiquette: The Definitive Guide to Upscale Trailer Park Manners by Dr. Verne Edstorm, Esq.
43. Belle de Jour: Diary of an Unlikely Call Girl by Anonymous
44. Fearless Interviewing: How to Win the Job by Communicating with Confidence by Marky Stein
45. Rape: A Love Story by Joyce Carol Oates
46. The Dying Animal by Philip Roth
47. The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice
48. Bless Your Heart, Tramp and Other Southern Endearments by Celia Rivenbark
49. Jesus Rode a Donkey: Why Republicans Don’t Have the Corner on Christ by Linda Seger
50. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

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