Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I'm going to admit it: I'm a sucker for a gimmick in a book. Not a formula, necessarily, but a gimmick in terms of structure. You have funny footnotes, Jasper Fforde? You got me. You wrote a book in the form of an online forum conversation, Victor Palevin? You got me.

Of course, this isn't always true. I read Sorrentino's all-questions book Gold Fools and hated it, didn't I? So I guess it's not a universal way of seducing me.

In any event, I mention it because I picked up Twilight of the Superheroes expecting something to do with, you know, superheroes. Maybe something like Alan Moore meets Michael Chabon. Not so much. People love these short stories, but of all the short story collections I've read recently, this one drags the most. And I'm wondering if it's because I was expecting or hoping for a gimmick. Sigh. Back to work.

Friday, January 15, 2010

the first four

15 days into 2010 and oy. I don't have to go into the personal dramas at home and work, let alone reiterate the insanity of the earthquake in Haiti and how quickly and beautifully most Americans have leapt to help (and how quickly and viciously a few have leapt to attack). We get the Earth we get.

So far I have managed to avoid cupcakes, though my other resolutions food-wise have faltered a bit. I've read four books this year, two from the Canongate Myths series, one a large photography book that almost doesn't count, and Agassi's autobiography. The latter is by far my favorite, and I urge any and all tennis fans to pick it up. Even if Agassi pissed you off, it's a fascinating read. I've been a fan of Baghdatis for years, so I appreciate the time Agassi spends talking about his last ATP match win, which was against him. How he talks about Rafter is also gratifying. If you're a big fan of Sampras, keep a cool head. As you can imagine, Agassi had a complex relationship with Pete.

I have to finish at least four more books in the next two weeks (I'm thinking The Water-Babies, Homage to Catalonia, The Helmet of Horror, and Twilight of the Superheroes), finish my Nick fellowship, go scream like an idiot from the Golden Globes grandstands on Sunday with Luce, and try once more to do an open mic. When I'm stressing and lost, I must remember that my problems are good problems to have.

Monday, January 4, 2010

41 is not 100

I finished reading 41 books last year. That doesn't include (a lot of) scripts, short stories, interviews, or books I partly read, but it does include books I started before 2008 and didn't finish until 2009. In any event, it's way less than 100. In any event, I have 717 books on my to-read list. A few of these are more "to own" reference books, but there's still well over 600 books I want to read, plus 16 in my so-called "currently reading" list. I've heard of people reading 100+ books in a year, and if I want to make a significant dent in my to-read list, which I do, I think I should shoot for 100 as well. Anything to take my mind off how little a dent I've put in my student or car loans.

So 100 books means 8 or 9 books a month. I have yet to finish a single book this year, so, along with my not-insignificant work and life goals, I have my work cut out for me. I think the first two books will be Homage to Catalonia and A Short History of Myth, then probably Water Babies, Shah of Shahs, and whatever the library sends me first from my holds list. That means I should read at least one of the many unread books I have at home. Since the Australian Open's coming up, that may mean Agassi's bio, Open. Can't wait!

Friday, January 1, 2010


Calling this year '10 will be weird, so I think I'm gonna call it '010. Feel about that as you will.
I'm not gonna "resolve" anything, but there is stuff I am going to do this year.

1. Not eat cupcakes, ice cream (froyo is allowed), or anything from the vending machine at work, no matter how hungry I am. I should drop a bunch of weight right there. I'm considering no soda too. I've gone years w/out soda, I should be able to do it again.

2. Go someplace I haven't been before. This may be San Diego, Seattle, or Sydney. Doesn't matter, as long as it's an adventure.

3. Be me, do good, and try to figure it all out. No pressure.
In summing up, I wish I had some kind of affirmative message to leave you with. I don't. Would you take two negative messages?
-- Woody Allen