Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Days like this, I want to be at home, relaxing in bed with a good book.

I'm currently reading Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions, one of the most subversively whacked-out books I've ever come across. In the midst of seemingly random observations he unexpectedly drops cynical nuggets of truth:

Viet Nam was a country where America was trying to make people stop being communists by dropping things on them from airplanes. The chemicals he mentioned were intended to kill all the foliage, so it would be harder for communists to hide from airplanes.
And:

That was the main reason the people in Midland City were so slow to detect insanity in their associates. Their imaginations insisted that nobody changed much from day to day. Their imaginations were flywheels on the ramshackle machinery of the awful truth.
That last line is one of my favorites.

Prior to this, I read the similarly whacked-out Running with Scissors: A Memoir, by Augusten Burroughs. Some things are presumably too horrible for words and one would think Burroughs' childhood, as presented here, would be one of those things. If this were a fiction novel, I'm not sure it would have worked as anything other than pointless farce. As a memoir, though, it is extremely disturbing and only Burroughs' humourous, matter-of-fact recollections allowed me to get through it.

Several times I laughed out loud while reading it, immediately followed by a grimace of extreme discomfort. It is the proverbial train wreck come to life, and as much as you want to turn away, Burroughs maintains a steady grip throughout. Part of me still wants to believe he's exaggerated some things for dramatic effect but there's a melancholy sincerity to the tone of the book that suggests otherwise.

Speaking of books, I'm slowly making my way up Amazon.com's reviewer rankings, breaking into the Top 10,000 over the weekend! I've written 40 different reviews and received 171 helpful votes, and am currently sitting at #9814 on the list. Check them out and help boost me into the Top 5000 by the end of the year!

4 comments:

Dyanna said...

Remind me to lend you Dry, the follow up to Running... talk about "melancholy sincerity". Same thing goes here. Funny, poignant, bittersweet... actually had to put the book down at one point because I was crying. The book broke my heart as much as it made me laugh.

I also want to lend you David Sedaris. Basically he writes essays that are snippets of his life. Really good stuff.

Matthew Charles Siegel said...
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Matthew Charles Siegel said...
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Matthew Charles Siegel said...

I am sooooo happy that you're liking the Vonnegut. When I had to buy you a present, that book was the first thing that popped into my mind. It was the first Vonnegut book I ever read, and it remains, to this day, my favorite. If you like the Vonnegut, I can recommend some other ones I liked.....in particular "The Sirens of Titan" and "Galapagos" are great books that I really enjoyed reading. In my humble opinion, Kurt Vonnegut is the greatest living American writer. I'd love to hear more of what ya think.....take care....MCS