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I’ve been travelling through space and time a lot this week.  I’ve been to the desert planet of Arrakis, 8000 years into the future.  I’ve been to late 19th century England and Narnia (again) to watch the world’s beginning and the entrance of evil before it was even 5 hours old.  And now, I’ve just returned from a frightening not-to-distant future United States.  Oddly enough, they have more in common than just time.

In all three books, Dune, The Magician’s Nephew, and Fahrenheit 451, there is oppressive rulers and the reaching into the minds of people to control their very thoughts.  With Dune, the Bene Gesserit wish to control who gets knowledge and sight, who marries whom, and even what sex a child will be.  The Harkonnens and Sardukars viciously hunt and kill the Fremen in a pogrom, because the Fremen are independent and refuse to kiss the perverse butts of the disgusting Harkonnen “rulers.”

With The Magician’s Nephew, the Witch destroyed her own world in a bid to control it and take the throne from her sister, using the deplorable word to kill all life except the one who speaks it.  Then she tries to take over England, but without her magic, she’s just a violent nutter on a thieving rampage.  Once in Narnia, however, she’ll hide and bide her time… then make the move to enslave and opress the land for her own pleasure.

Fahrenheit 451, though, is the one I’ve most recently finished, so the thoughts about it are still tumbling around.

The fun thing with Fahrenheit 451 is that it’s been on Mt. TBR since before there was a Mt. TBR, way back when it was just an “I’m gonna read that soon” pile, when there were maybe 20 books on that pile.  I have NO idea how many books are on Mt. TBR now. Library Thing says I have catalogued almost 1000 books, but some of those are books I’ve read, or books I’ve mooched away and NOT read.  I have tagged 493 books either unread or TBR, but I’ve gotten lazy and haven’t been tagging any of the books I add, so I’d say Mt. TBR is well over 300 books (simply “unread” don’t count as TBR books).

So, some of my thoughts on Fahrenheit 451… 

One of the things that Guy Montag has to do is to decide which book he’ll sacrifice.  Captain Beatty knows he took a book and tells him if he turns it in within 24 hours, it’ll be forgiven.  Montag’s not sure if Beatty knows he has one book, a hundred books or which title, so he figures if he brings him one book, any book, he’ll pass without suspicion.  But how can he choose?  He decides not to turn over the last known surviving copy of The Bible, which was a funny moment with his wife, who asked him:  Which is more important, me or that book?  Der, easy answer… 

*SORTA SPOILER ALERT*  After running from the police, Montag finds a group of men hobo’ing who have memorized a chapter of a book, or even entire books, and burned the hard copies, and now wait for a time when society will return to it’s senses and want literature again.  They half-jokingly introduce themselves as the particular book title, i.e. “Hi!  I am Plato’s Republic, and Simmons is Marcus Aurelius.”  Knowing how the statement “I am” is an affirmation, and also that the more you say it, the more it takes hold and becomes a truth about you,  I wonder who they’ll be in 20 years.  Their personalities, and such.

In Fahrenheit 451, Mildred, Montag’s wife, is very attached to her “family,” the people on the television.  These “relatives” yell at each other, call each other names, act the fool, and are otherwise “entertaining”.  They have a device that allows the owner to hear their own name in messages and shows, and the picture is even adjusted to make the actor’s lips appear to say the name.  So that for her, the announcer says, “Mrs. Montag, wouldn’t you love to try Denham’s Dentifrice?”  And their living room, or parlor room, has wall-sized screens (remember, this was written in the late 40′s – early 50s), and when you had all 4 of your wall-screens installed, it would be just like being in the show… surrounded by your “family”.  Creepy!  and sad…

Clarisse McClellen is the oddball neighbor that sets Montag’s feet on the road of awakening.  She tells him of how kids her age frighten her.  They enjoy killing each other and themselves and destroying things.  They go to the “amusement park” and break windows in “Vandalism Town” or drag race legally, as long as they have enough insurance they can destroy whatever they want. 

One of Mrs. Montag’s friends tells how she thinks it was nice having kids, and she does her best to accommodate them the 3 days out of a month she has them (the rest of the time they’re away at school… grade schoolers, btw).  She just plopped them down in the parlor with the “relatives” as soon as they got home from the hospital.   But, she doesn’t know why they hate her.  Hmm…

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And now for something completely random and different  (because the vid clip I wanted to post is embedding disabled).

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So, If you had to sacrifice one of your books to save the rest, which one would go into the fire?

I’d be tossing the Babysitter’s Club ones… maybe the stray Captain Underpants one I think’s somewhere around here. The Reader’s Digest condensed books could be chucked, too… if they’re still here.

If you were one of the books (which was the vid clip, btw… Montag meeting the Books), what book would you be and why?

It’s a book I’d re-read mentally and recite every day… it’d become a part of me and eventually I’d become that book to an extent…. I think I’d pick the book of Proverbs (Montag was the Book of Ecclesiastes) because it’s wisdom. Everything you need to know about dealing with people, living life, psychology… everything…. is in Proverbs.

Your turn! What book would you sacrifice? Which would you be? Why?

Dexter in the Dark by Jeff Lindsay

Title: Dexter in the Dark
Author: Jeff Lindsay
Paperback: 302 pages
Publisher:  First Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Edition (div of Random House)
Publish Date: 2007
ISBN:  9780307276735

So what kind of moon can this possibly be, with its near breathless smile and smirking lace around the edges?  It batters feebly at the window, but it can’t quite get in past all the sickly-sweet warbling.  And what kind of Dark Avenger could simply sit across the room, as poor Dazed Dexter does now, pretending to listen while mooning blearily on his chair?

Why, this must be a honeymoon – unfurling its marital banner across the living-room night, signaling for all to rally round, sound the charge, once more into the church, dear friends – because Dexter of the Deadly Dimples is getting married.  Hitched to the wagon of bliss pulled by the lovely Rita, who has turned out to have a lifelong passion to see Paris.

…  Can we really see a suddenly sober and simpering slasher at the altar of an actual church, in Fred Astaire tie and tails, slipping the ring onto a white-wrapped finger while the congregation sniffles and beams?  And then Demon Dexter in madras shorts, gawking at the Eiffel Tower and snarfing cafe au lait at the Arc de Triomphe?  Holding hands and trundling giddily along the Seine, staring vacantly at ever gaudy trinket in the Louvre?

Of course, I suppose I could make a pilgrimage to the Rue Morgue, a sacred site for serial slashers.

But let us be just a tiny bit serious for a moment:  Dexter in Paris?  For starters, are Americans still allowed to go to France?  and for finishers, Dexter in Paris?  On a honeymoon?  How can someone of Dexter’s midnight persuasions possibly consider anything so ordinary?  How can someone who considers sex as interesting as deficit accounting enter into marriage?  In short, how by all that is unholy, dark, and deadly can Dexter really mean to do this?

… Dexter can go through with this because he must, in part to maintain and even upgrade his necessary disguise, which prevents the world at large from seeing him for what he is, which is at best not something one would really like to have sitting across the table when the lights go out – especially if there is silverware present.  And quite naturally, it takes a great deal of careful work to make sure it is not generally known that Dexter is driven by his Dark Passenger, a whispery-silk voice in the shaded backseat that from time to time climbs into the front seat to take the wheel and drive us to the Theme Park of the Unthinkable.  It would never do to have the sheep see that Dexter is the wolf among them.

-Dexter in the Darkby Jeff Lindsay, pages 5-7

Dexter Morgan is an attractive, charming blood spatter expert in the Miami Police forensics department.  He is engaged to sweet Rita, soon-to-be-step-dad to her two children Astor and Cody.  His sister Don’t-call-me-Debbie-Deborah is a Sergent in homicide, and uses her eldest-sibling status to order and bully Dexter (as much as one could bully him) around crime scenes and investigating the cases.  He is the son of legendary Harry, a now-deceased hero of the force, who taught fledgling Dexter all he knows and trained him in the Harry Code.  Oh yes… and Dexter is also host to what he calls “The Dark Passenger,” a sibilant voice that drives him in an urgent need to kill; Dexter Morgan is a serial killer.

Dexter in the Dark by Jeff Lindsay is the third in the Dexter series.  I first found out about the books when I watched Dexter, a television series now in its third season on Showtime.  After watching the first couple shows, I caught the book’s title and author in the end credits and ran to my local Waldenbooks… who, unfortunately, only carried Dexter in the Dark, and, even more to my woe, have closed their doors for good, leaving my town bookstore-less.

Scene from Showtime’s Dexter(the show is rated TVMA, and this clip is at least TV-14):

Because I have had the previous experience of the show, starting up with the third book wasn’t too traumatic a beginning.  The Dark Passenger isn’t mentioned much, if at all, in the TV show, and there were a few major curves as a result from events unknown to me as a result of lacking the information provided by the first two books… Dexter’s upcoming nuptials being a MAJOR surprise (I’ve only seen the first season thus far).  However, Lindsay does a fairly good job of catching the reader up to speed on these occasions, though I would definitely recommend reading them in order, instead, as the “getting-to-know-and-like-the-charming-serial-killer-good-guy” would be found in book one.

As far as writing style goes, I enjoyed Lindsay’s playful alliterations and snarky internal dialogue of the narrator:  I headed out the door for my date with Deborah’s paramour.(p. 272)  Lindsay also toes the line, and occasionally steps over it, with his near-offensive, non-P.C., perverse and irreverent humor, from the xenophobic, misogynistic rant of an elderly witness, to description of the intense and utter pain and agony felt by Dexter Downtroadden at the altar… awaiting his fate as if he were Dexter on Death Row.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of the Dexters, but I do want Darkly Dreaming Dexter next.   I think I’ve missed something by starting in the middle of the series, despite seeing the show.  It’s possible I would rate this book higher had I read them in order, as it is I’m going to give Dexter in the Dark by Jeff Lindsay 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.  I really did enjoy it, but felt it was lacking something (probably books 1 and 2).

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon

Title:  The Yiddish Policemen’s Union

Author:  Michael Chabon

Soft Cover:  411 pages

Publisher:  Harper Perennial

Publish Date:  2007

ISBN:  9780007149834

Miscellaneous:  This is a P.S. edition

Nine months Landsman’s been flopping at the Hotel Zamenhof without any of his fellow residents managing to get themselves murdered.  Now somebody has put a bullet in the brain of the occupant of 208, a yid who was calling himself Emanuel Lasker.

-The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon, page 1.

This first paragraph of Michael Chabon’s book about Jews living in the Federal District of Sitka as an interim homeland after Israel failed after three months of Statehood in the alternate timeline of The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.  Now, as the Sitka District is two months from reverting back to the control of the state of Alaska, homicide detective Meyer Landsman, occupant of room 505 of the Zamenhof, a hotel that’s only half a step up from a flea bag flop house, is called on by the night manager to investigate the murder of a man in room 208.  It is apparent from the start that the man is not who he claims to be, and the only clues Landsman has is the bullet hole in the man’s head, a chessboard in mid game, a book of 300 chess moves and the evidence of heroin abuse.

Throughout the book, the reader is able to see and feel the inside world of a Jewish community.  With it’s humor and sprinkling of Yiddish words and phrases, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union begins as a murder mystery but spreads to include the prejudices not only from the outside world, but those within the sects and families within the Jews of the Sitka District and outlying areas, and the political manipulations going on from Washington, D.C. and the Sitka bosses.

As a murder mystery, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union is good, but what I really loved about the book was its use of the game of chess as a metaphor and to foreshadow the events in the story.  The use of strategies and tactics to reveal the nature of the characters.  And it is the game that was forever stop mid-play in the dead man’s room that ultimately leads to the capture and confession of the killer.

Besides chess, murder, and Jewish culture, the book deals with the universal nature of a child’s desire for the approval and acceptance from his or her parents, even when that child is a burly man in his thirties and a father himself.  Homosexuality, drug use, alcoholism, and the supernatural all make appearances in The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.

While I did enjoy this book, I have to say I had hoped it would be more compelling.  I reached the end of the book with the sadness often felt at the departure from the world and people within the covers.  The book didn’t really impress me much, and it will probably be forgotten in six months.  I give The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon 3 out of 5 stars.  It was good but not great, interesting but not a page-turner.

 

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Booking Through Thursday -Doomsday

Booking Through Thursday

What would you do if, all of a sudden, your favorite source of books was unavailable?

Whether it’s a local book shop, your town library, or an Internet shop … what would you do if, suddenly, they were out of business? Devastatingly, and with no warning? Where would you go for books instead? What would you do? If it was a local business you would try to help out the owners? Would you just calmly start buyingfrom some other store? Visit the library in the next town instead? Would it be devastating? Or just a blip in your reading habit?

Let’s see… my favorite place to go for books is the Internet.  Requesting ARCs and reviewer copies from the Publishers and authors and accepting them from the same, as well.  When it comes to the idea of the  Internet suddenly going out of business, I think I’m safe.   Barring the EMP that results from nuclear war, I don’t think I have to worry about the ‘net going away without warning.

HOWEVER, if I don’t pay my bill, I could lose my access at home.  Mild withdraw might ensue (probably wouldensue), but there is still the library’s computer farm.  One hour a day, surrounded by pimply-faced, obnoxiously loud teenagers whose favorite phrases are, “dude! that’s so gay,” and “you’re an F-ing A-hole (without the hyphens.. you know what I mean)”, and whose favorite site is YouTube.  These little “patrons” are why our local library had to hire an off-duty police officer to patrol the library, but that is a rant for another day.

Back to the question at hand… in the interest of full participation, I’m going to use a more likely scenario.  What if Borders suddenly, and without warning, shut down my Waldenbooks?  That would seriously suck.  I would be forced to troll the Wal-mart book rack for the new releases (have you seen their “selection”?), or pay full sticker at the grocery store… YIKES!  I ain’t paid $30 for a new book since college!  I get pissy about it if I have to pay $15 (like Kafka on the Shore, which I still have not read, and I think I had a coupon for THAT, too.   I would be forced to waiting and hoping for it to pop up on BookMooch or PBS, and now with the new reserve system on BM I might never see one.

Thanks for this question…. now I’ll have nightmares for a week.  My one consolation is that Mt. TBR would keep me in the read for a year or so, long enough for a Books-a-million to move to town (not likely, since there’s a store 30 minutes away, and people in my town will drive there).

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