September 4, 2004

On Books: August

It's that time again - the beginning of a new month! Which means looking back at what I read the previous month. If you recall, I wasn't really happy with what I ended up reading back in July. Luckily, August was better.

I think the highlight of the month has to be Yoga For People Who Can't Be Bothered To Do It by Geoff Dyer. To blow any preconceptions out of the water now, this book has little, if anything to do with yoga. I'll default to Dyer's own words for an explanation.

"This book is a ripped, by no means reliable map of some of the landscapes that make up a particular phase of my life. It's about places where things happened or didn't happen, places where I stayed and things that have stayed with me, places I'd wanted to see or places I'd passed through our just ended up." He continues, "Everything in this book really happened, but some of the things happened only in my head; by the same token, all the things that didn't happen didn't happen there too."

Yoga is like a well-traveled David Sedaris on crack. As I was reading, I found myself open-mouthed and muttering things like "if I could only write like this."

While Yoga might have been the overall best thing I read in August, certainly Wigfield by the team of Sedaris, Dinello and Colbert was the funniest. Its fake journalism at its very best and I don't recall having ever laughed out loud as hard with any other book.

Checkpoint by Nicholson Baker has gotten a lot of press lately - and rightly so. The book, a slim 115 pages, consists of nothing but a conversation between two people in a Washington DC hotel room. The conversation? Its about killing the president. As in, the current one. I've always been a big fan of Baker's. I think his last novel, A Box Of Matches was one of his finest. Checkpoint, however, is a novelty. It doesn't function well as a novel. The conversation is good, witty and bold but the book itself seems rushed. Its clear that Baker had an agenda. The Republicans among you will not enjoy this. Fierce Democrats most likely will.

Sailing Alone Around The Room is a collection of poetry (yes, I said poetry) from former poet laureate Billy Collins. Now, I'm not a fan of poetry in general but Collins writes poetry thats quirky, meaningful and, unlike elaborate sonnets with rhyming couplets, ordinary about everyday things with which we can all identify.

The last book I'll mention here is Bentley Little's The Walking which falls squarely into the cheap horror novel category. I do love a cheesy horror novel once in a while. Sadly, Little really dropped the ball on this one. By the end, I just really didn't care what happened. Its too bad - some of Little's other books have really been quite good.

So, that's it for August. We'll see what September brings!

Posted by Chris at September 4, 2004 8:57 AM

I love that Geoffrey Dyer book, too. Also, Out Of Sheer Rage, his previous book.

Posted by: jilbur at September 5, 2004 5:42 PM

I thought the same thing about Checkpoint. I think that Baker is a great writer and he's always been able to make even the most mundane of topics seem interesting, but this seemed so rushed and so contrived. Like, hurry and scribble this down, blow on the ink, hurry! hurry! get it published before election time! It could have been much better. It's not easy to carry an entire book with only two characters and one setting, so he gets slight points for that, but overall I thought it was totally lacking.
Although I do applaud his balls for publishing a book which discusses killing the president.

Posted by: RockStar Mommy at September 7, 2004 7:09 PM