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Young Geoffrey

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Feeling a little out of my depth ... and pondering the girlfriend's confession [Oct. 18th, 2010|08:21 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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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.

Want to know what her confession was? . So there. I remain much trodden-upon, but utterly guiltless. And yes, it is a privileged placed to be, why do you ask?">

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.]

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!)

  8. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland/Through the Looking-Glass, by Lewis Carroll: Oh come on! Do I really have to explain?!?

  9. 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).

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

[User Picture]From: jamiewho
2010-10-19 04:07 am (UTC)

One of those weird things...

Pumpkin pie is one of the strange North American foods I have never been able to wrap my head around...although I was brave and tried it for the second time at Thanksgiving this year. I still think it's weird.

I think maybe it's partly because I always envisioned it as a hot savory kind of pie (as is popular back home), instead of a cold dessert kind of pie.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2010-10-20 02:18 pm (UTC)

Re: One of those weird things...

Seriously, there's pumpkin pie and then there's pumpkin pie. Most often, it's a rather bland concoction of textureless fruit-pulp between pie crusts whose only real flavour comes from the accompanying ice cream and/or flavoured whipped cream.

But use jack-o-lantern pumpkin, not pureed to a tasteless pulp, and some interesting Indian spices ... well, then you have a desert awesome to behold (and to eat).
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From: spells_disaster
2010-10-19 01:53 pm (UTC)
I actually did this meme a while ago, but here's my list none the less.

1. The Spooky Tail of Prewitt Peacock: Bill Pete

2. Fight Club: Chuck Palahniuk

3. A Scanner Darkly: Philip K. Dick

4. Altered States of America: Richard Stratton

5. Handmaiden's Tale: Margaret Atwood

6. Black Coffee Blues : Henry Rollins

7. Super patriotism : Michael Parenti

8. Travels Though Crime and Place : DeLeon-Granados

9. Me Talk Pretty One Day: David Sedaris

10. Culture Jam: Kalle Lasn

11. Cunt : Inga Muscio

12. His Dark Materials : Philip Pullman

13. A People’s History of the United States : Howard Zinn

14. Skipping Towards Gomorrah : Dan Savage

15. The Art of Outdoor Photography: Boyd Norton
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2010-10-20 02:22 pm (UTC)

Interesting list

Funny thing is (or maybe not so funny), almost as soon as I'd finished the first list, I realized I could easily do another (and probably another), with all different titles.

Maybe I will some rainy Sunday ...

Meanwhile, I'm a little perturbed by how many of those on your list are books (and authors) I've never even heard of. Gonna have to check out Sedaris for sure, though.
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From: spells_disaster
2010-10-20 02:37 pm (UTC)

Re: Interesting list

I did the same thing with the music meme (its in one of my notes on facebook).

Unlike yourself, I didn't bother explaining why I chose the books. Maybe when I finish my thesis, I'll have more time. let me know what titles peak your interest, and I'll give you a dl.

Anyhow, I like listening to Sedaris.

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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2010-10-20 02:42 pm (UTC)

Re: Interesting list

You're the second person to recommend him to me here in the past couple of weeks and, entirely coincidentally, I heard him reading on Jonathon Goldstein's Wiretap either this past weekend or the one before.

Not sure I liked it that much, but I'm interested enough to give him another try - but I think i'll wait for my next trip to the library so I can actually read it. I too easily tune in and out when listening to prose.
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From: spells_disaster
2010-10-20 02:51 pm (UTC)

Re: Interesting list

book recommendations are tough, just because someone likes something doesn't mean another person will. (take for example, my disinterest in reading lord of the rings...something aobut reading the hobbit when young and thinking it was boring then and being unconvinced that that book pales in comparison to the other three).
now as an "adult" i realize the problem is symptomatic of lifestyle and the fact that i rarely get the time to read things for pleasure; its all about cops, crime, corrections.... and being read to when i can't sleep is sometimes as good to lay in bed and pretend someone is reading to me... while the mind races...
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2010-10-23 03:44 am (UTC)

Re: Interesting list

book recommendations are tough ...

Very much so. And further, a friend made me realize this list implied I recommend everything on it. Although I recommend most of it, I wrote it up with the word memorable in mind, not good.

(I'm tempted to try to interest you in The Lord of the Rings, but I'll save it for a general-interest essay ...
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[User Picture]From: bukabe16
2010-10-20 07:59 am (UTC)
I'm always up for a book meme, epsecially on university time.

1.The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis I simply adore this series, each one of the books is something special to me. Ironically, I don't even like Christianity, which is what these books are strongly adapted to, but Lewis' makes me believe in bravery and strength and The Power Of Good again and I love him for it.

2.The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien Epic fantasy. As in most epic of all. That man created a whole three-dimensional universe.

3.His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman Another fantastic trilogy. The whole concept of parallel universes, people's inner nature in the form of daemons and battling against God to preserve the one thing worth living for, namely sin- it blows my mind every time I read it.

4.Hello Mr. God, this is Anna, Fynn Even though the main character is sometimes portrayed as overly perfect, this is yet another book that portays religion and God in a way that I can relate to and digest without having to throw up.

5.On Death and Dying, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross This book changed my way of thinking about my own life and death. In the end, we can never fully prove what and if something comes after our death. We choose our own beliefs in this matter, and most of the author's theories make sense to me.

6.Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare Once you've somehow managed to understand what he's saying, Shakespeare turn out to be a brilliant writer. I find it amazing how I can relate to his characters, even though he wrote them from an perspective hundreds of years before my time. People haven't changed, it seems.

7.Brave New World, Aldous Huxley This book stayed with me as a warning. It has many very boring passages and even the main characters manage to be flat at times, but still, the dystopian world picture that is shown in Huxley's book is something I dread.

8.I'm Off Then: My Journey Along the Camino De Santiago, Hape Kerkeling Tremendously funny, realistic and kind of inspiring. I always enjoy re-reading this one.

9.Life of Pi, Yann Martel Again, a religion related book. The only book I know that deals with being shipwrecked with a tiger.

10.No Shitting in the Toilet, Peter Moore The best traveling guide I know. Hilarious and very practical.

11.Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures : a novel in two books, Walter Moers Fantastic novel. Nuff said.

12.P.S.: I love you, Cecilia Ahren Yeah, yeah, I know. It's still heartbreaking.

13.The City of Dreaming Books, Walter Moers A great tribute to literature, reading and writing.

14.Momo, Michael Ende Oh come on, it's a classic!

15.The Neverending Story, Michael Ende 'Cause that's where all the great stories come from, right?
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2010-10-20 02:37 pm (UTC)

Alas, sweet Willie! I knew him ...

... well, not really, but I agree with you completely about Shakespeare. He was really willing to let his characters be themselves and, as you said, once you break through the language barrier (for me it was the Henry plays, after watching Kenneth Brannaugh's Henry V (which, if you haven't seen it, is a brilliant production)) it really is amazing writing.

On the other hand, I came to late to Narnia to enjoy it, and maybe to Pullman as well (you probably read my review of the latter), but I'm with you on Tolkien. I've read The Lord of the Rings over and over (and over!) again.
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