I just returned from my first non-Raven-related outing since visiting family out-of-town back in August, and first non-family/non-Raven social outing since (my chrisT) January or something crazy like that.
Met with three members of the Drupal "community" here in Ottawa and, as per the subject-line (and icon), found myself feeling very much like a newbie. I said little, listened much and (possibly unlike the 15 year-old me pictured above) intend to do it again.
Meanwhile, I returned to a girlfriend cringing and smiling like a small child, who knows there's a knocked-over garbage can in the next room, but who is still naive enough to think she can blame it on the cat — who has been out all day.
The rules: Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes.
Tag fifteen friends, including me, because I’m interested in seeing what books my friends choose. Tag however many people you'd like to tag... I think you folks know I don't tag. But if you find yourself bored and/or inspired ...
In no particular order, and starting at 20:33 hours, by my clock ... [When you come to to the final number, add about 55 minutes, due to Raven's insistence that I come to supper now!. gd — 22:28 hours.]
- Something Happened, by Joseph Heller: I've long and rightly listed Heller's Catch-22 among my 10 or 20 or 30 best-books. But Something Happened, which I've only read once, just might be more memorable. It's final line (or possibly, scene) is one I shamelessly stole for a story of my own when I was 16 or 17, and the sheer, brutal pathos of its finale is not something I think I'll ever forget.
It's also a difficult book, without the former's anarchic humour (though humour there is a'plenty) and I've known more than one person who couldn't get through it at all or who needed several tries.
But Bob Slocum is still one of the most sympathetic portrayals of a brutalized (and so, brutalizing) "successful" American I've yet come across.
- The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien: I've read it more than 20 times. It still thrills me and it still makes me cry. That's all you need to know for this one.
- Beast and Man, by Mary Midgley: The first serious philosophical defence I came across in support of something I had long "known" intuitively. Namely, that animals are not automatons, no matter what Cartesians and experimental scientists might have to say on the subject. As any pet owner knows full well, other animals might not be as smart as we are, but they share our range of emotions and a lot more of our intellectual capacity than far too many are willing to give them credit for.
- War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy: The man was an idiot about history, but holy shit could he write an historical novel-come-soap opera!
- Ringworld, by Larry Niven: Truth to tell, I'm not even sure it is Ringworld I'm thinking of, and I barely remember the novel aside from the orbitally silly concept. But I do remember the iron discipline of Luis(?) Wu(?), wirehead, who nevertheless, pulled away from his fix for an hour or two every day to keep his body in some kind of working order. It's probably pretty awful, but my teenage self admired hell out of the romance in that self-destructive fantasy.
If I lived in the states, I might think of blaming Niven and/or his estate for the years of my life wasted on tobacco.
- Dhalgren, by Samuel R. Delany: Someday, I'm going to write a major piece to add some small smidgin to the existing, but woefully inadequate critical response to this brilliant, difficult and (again!) brilliant novel.
- Cerebus, by Dave Sim: This is sort of a cheat, since it's a comic, and also since (and counter to the author's own claims) I don't think the 300 issues of his comic really make a coherent whole. But Beast and Man already ruined my tacit presumption this mean was about fiction, so why worry about form? Cerebus is a magnificent, unfinished and monstrously flawed piece of work that is nevertheless worth suffering every tedious, typescript page of political and sexual reactionarism for their matching moments of graphic novel brilliance.
(Or something like that. (This is taking way more than 15 minutes!)
- Alice's Adventures In Wonderland/Through the Looking-Glass, by Lewis Carroll: Oh come on! Do I really have to explain?!?
- A Prairie Boy's Winter, by William Kurulek: A picture-book from my early childhood, and one of the first pieces of Canadiana I (consciously) had introduced to me. It was probably intended for my little brother, but the descriptions of the young William huddling under the blankets, letting his breath warm his bed enough to sleep, spoke volumes to me as we lived in a house with no running water or electricity, and from which we egressed to an unheated outhouse with a strip of fabric for a door, when we needed to poop (yes, even when it was minus 40 celsius, no shit — er, as it were).
- The Women's Room, by Marilyn French: To tell you the truth, I barely remember anything about this book, and so I suspect it wasn't that good a novel, but when I was 15 or 16, it hit me like the (not-quite) proverbial tonne of bricks in terms of making me conscious that feminism was (and is) more than the simple idea that everyone ought to be equal in the eyes of the law.
- Guns, Germs and Steel, by Jared Diamond/The Shock Doctrine, by Naomi Klein: I suspect the authors would not necessarily feel too comfortable being lumped together; to make matters worse, they both make me think of Das Kapital — and that's a good thing all the way around.
- Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson: Seriously. Someday, I am going to moderate a re-read of this series, I hope with something close to the degree of insight and creative imagination Kate Nepveu brought to her re-read of The Lord of the Rings.
- The Edible Woman, by Margaret Atwood: Mainly because with this novel Atwood showed that anger could be funny. I'm not sure she'd agree that's such a good thing anymore; but then again, I'm not sure she wouldn't.
- Barney's Version, by Mordechai Richler: I think Richler's last novel was his best. It's so good, I want to suggest it is the coda to more than a half-century of (male) Jewish (North) American writing about the Integrating (but still striving) Jewish experience in North America. Even if that's a load of bollocks, it's a beautiful, funny and sometimes vicious novel about Life. Richler's novels in general prove the adage about finding the universe in a grain of sand.
- The Masks of God (volumes 1-4), by Joseph Campell/The Sleepwalkers, The Act of Creation and The Ghost In the Machine, by Arthur Koestler: Two series of books which to me proved (even though I don't think I'd articulate the question) the possibility and the importance of the public intellectual.
Campbell was the scholar, supremely confident; Koestler, the brilliant amateur, daring to suggest the emperor ran naked. Paired, they inspired me to possibilities of learning and knowledge I had on some level set aside as belonging to a mythical Other.
Really? You're still here?
Yes, Raven cringed before me like a supplicant at the feet of the Pope. "I have a confession," she whispered.
Like an angry God, I bellowed, "Speak! child! What dastardly sin hast thou committed in my absence?"
The walls rang and shivered in the voice of my rage.
"I ..." She bowed her head, and tried again. "I ate all the left-over pumpkin pie ..."
All of it?" I boomed?
"All of it," she replied, meekly.
Well, I said, and I pondered. I do, it must be admitted, make the worlds Greatest Pumpkin Pie; and Raven has a powerful appetite. Between those two monsters, Mortal Sin became Venial — and Venial became mere caprice.
Besides. I was hungry and something smelled awfully good. "I forgive you, child," I oozed, with a condescension (and unatributed quotation) nauseating to behold. "Now tell me, what's for dinner?"
Hint: the secret ingredient to Awesome Pumpkin Pie is garam massala. And the dinner was delicious.This entry was originally posted at http://ed-rex.dreamwidth.org/206705.html. Comment there using OpenID, or here as per normal.