Wednesday, September 9

Best of LA

Pictures of me [sleeping] from Atiya and Mia.


5 Short Reads

If time truly is money, then saving time can be financially resourceful, especially in a recession. But a very good use of time, as with money, can be beneficial, and reading is one of the good-est endeavors a sighted person can pursue. When factoring these two common perceptions [the high value of time and the very goodness of reading] the conclusion reached is that reading in short increments is one of the finest possible activities, especially for young paupers.

With consideration to this lopsided pile of syllogisms I have composed a list of 5 great short books. Each book has less than 200 small pages, each averaging about a minute-and-a-half in reading-time. Technically, in the time it took me to sit through Watchmen with Greek subtitles, I could've stayed home, saved 10€ [14 USD] and learned something about life and myself.

EUROPEANA: A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY by Patrik Ourednik [translated from the Czech]
Europeana is the shortest book on the short list, despite covering the whole of the twentieth century. Ourednik looks back on recent history with dark, eastern European glasses whose arms are thorny, pricking and stinging the reader's head in sentence-long anecdotes. Ourednik's calm and dispassion make rare, horrific facts all the more disturbing.

OF WALKING ON ICE by Werner Herzog
Herzog in Munich hears that his friend in Paris is dying. Wishing to be by her side, he decides to walk through harsh winter weather to Paris "against her death, knowing that if I walked on foot she would be alive when I got there." He kept a diary of all of his observations, as though a small book was pressed to his stomach while he trudged, and it reads like an epic poem. Herzog basically precedes and perfects Twittering by about 30 years.

SUMMER CROSSING by Truman Capote
Summer Crossing fabulously follows a country clubbing girl and the lower-middle-class boy she emotionally abuses à la Philip Roth - but short! It was the first novel Capote ever attempted but it was never finished so it ends on a boring cliff-hanger.

I REMEMBER by Joe Brainard
Every mini-paragraph of Brainard's memoir starts with, "I remember," which proves to be one of the sweeter verb conjugations in modern English. And sweet the book turns out. Brainard apparently leads a hokey, cheerful existence for a young gay painter in the 1950's. Most of the joy in reading comes from recognizing his memories as your own: "I remember the sound of the ice cream man coming. / I remember once losing my nickel in the grass before he made it to my house. / I remember that life was just as serious then as it is now." Ourednik later wrote Year24 in this same form, covering his adolescence in Czechoslovakia under Communist control. It appears to be very potent and educational but has not yet been translated into English.

Excellent display of Vonnegut - ya got your Kilgore Trout, ya got your poo-tee-weet - and it's all done before dinner's ready. Vonnegut's interpretation of money in our society is about enough to make you give yours all away. [I stole this copy from my high school after it had been removed from the curriculum.]