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I can read, you know.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004 :::

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Why I read it: It was recommended to me a while ago through various sources, although I wouldn't want to venture a guess as to why.

What I think about it: I think everyone should read this book, at the very least to get better aquainted with their inevitable future. But seriously, I don't think I've ever learned so much or entertained so many thought-provoking concepts from a single book. Even better, Mary Roach's ability to write hysterical passages about dead bodies without ever making them seem undignified had me continuously laughing out loud. Plus it even made me ponder my own purpose and mortality on several occassions. One of the most worthwhile reading experiences I've ever had. Listen for me at parties and get-togethers quoting the more disturbing passages from this book. It's literally jam-packed with appalling facts, disturbing historical accounts, and hilarious anecdotes that are perfect for dinner parties.

What's even better, my copy of the book is autographed.

Learn more about it.

::: posted by dan at 11:21 AM :: #

Sunday, March 14, 2004 :::

Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk

Why I read it: Got it for christmas from my sister. I sometimes like Chuck Palahniuk. Sometimes I don't.

What I think about it: I think I've decided that I like Chuck's method rather than the actual results of his madness. Invisible Monsters is a sort of satire, pushed to its absurd limits, about identity and finding a place in society. It's about people wanting to be someone else and it's about people who want other people to be someone else. No one is happy with who they are, and no one is happy with who everyone else is, and by the end of the novel there are more than one sex-change operation and quite a few disfigurements. The plot itself is ridiculous, but Chuck's gift of language and his shameless grandiosity make it all worth while, even if his eventual point is rather perfunctory. If he had something really interesting and unique to say, he would be quite a storyteller.

Learn more about it.

::: posted by dan at 12:38 AM :: #

Sunday, March 07, 2004 :::

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

Why I read it: Because I heard it was good and I got it from my friend Jeannie for Xmas.

What I think about it: Completely disturbing and verging on far-fetched, this memior about Augusten's childhood is a surprisingly fun and hysterical story. It occasionally goes over the top while trying to be shocking, and at its center is a very sad and depressing story, but it never panders or tries to elicit sympathy. In fact, it comes off as seeming quite brave and even inspirational in what the kid was able to survive. And his unorthodoxed upbringing (putting it lightly) almost seems liberating, despite the true horror lying not so far underneath. Many people would find the subject matter sick, so that's probably why I responded to it so well. Plus it made me laugh out loud more than a few times. Has made me very anxious to read his follow-up, Dry.

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::: posted by dan at 5:36 PM :: #

Goat by Brad Land

Why I read it: Because it had a cool cover and I was in a spendy mood at the bookstore.

What I think about it: A novel about brotherhood and fraternity, both figuratively and literally, apparently inspired by a true story, and told as a "memior." I'm not intersested in fraternities or drunken frat parties or horrifying hazing stories, but this book was about more than just those cliches, and it was actually touching in its protrayal of two close brothers being torn apart by unforseen circumstances. Anyway, it was a quick read with a controlled writing style and it looks really cool on my bookshelf.

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::: posted by dan at 5:29 PM :: #

Diary by Chuck Palahniuk

Why I read it: I like his novels sometimes.

What I think about it: Chuck can usually make even the most derivative plot cliches seem fresh (a poem that kills people when you read it out loud for example, from Lullaby), and his sharp, acerbic writing style more than masks his thin plotting, but Diary is uninspired and pointless. Gone is his astute social commentary, gone is the wit and humor, gone are the twisty plot developments. All we have left here are a few undeveloped ideas and a story that goes nowhere interesting. It reads like Stephen King during his alcoholic phase and doesn't even bother to build to a climax. If you want a recommendation, read Lullaby instead, which at least went for broke in its bleak nihilism and had more than a few moments of inspired brilliance.

Learn more about it.

::: posted by dan at 5:25 PM :: #

Cryptonomicon by Neil Stephenson

Why I read it: I bought it years ago, and finally decided to tackle it. The jacket said something about technology and cryptography and I was hooked.

What I think about it: This was an extremely difficult book for me to read, perhaps due to the author's writing style, or the hundreds of characters, or the different time periods and settings that jumped around without warning, or the fact that it was like 1,000 pages long and featured extremely small print, but it was totally satisying and illuminating. It basically explores how the control of the flow of information affected the past and threatens the future, using different generations of the same families from World War II until today. It was detailed (maybe to a fault) and funny and brisk (although long) and completely captivating. It opened my eyes to a lot of interesting possiblities, too. I doubt I'll read another of his books, though, because it was all consuming for a month.

Learn more about it.

::: posted by dan at 5:18 PM :: #


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