Saturday, June 30, 2007

Books Lee is Reading

As both Jim and Lee are on vacation I'll be posting the articles they emailed to me.

Another week, another posting. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be in a non comic book reading house? I know that I have. I often wonder this because I can’t imagine how quiet and uneventful book discussions are at those houses.

You see, book discussion are always lively in my house. The most recent one went like this…

Wife: Oooohhhh, I see you’re reading a “real” book tonight.

**Yea Ed’s comment: This statement was laced with sarcasm in case you missed it.

Lee: Thanks! I’m just reading “The Sheep Look Up”

W: What’s that about?

L: The usual post apocalyptic story. This time, humanity has polluted and destroyed the environment to such an extent that life, and the earth is starting to die.

W: Ewww. Why do you read those books?

L: Same reason you read those silly depressing tales of tragedy and stories about people who can’t make a decision. At least my stories don’t make me cry.

….. Needless to say, there was a short period of quiet in the house that allowed me to continue reading uninterrupted.

But, seriously, I wonder what the rest of you do. Periodically, my wife and I “exchange” books so that we can broaden our horizons. I give her best selling graphic novel “Blankets”, she gives me exquisitely painful “Love in the time of Cholera”

I give her the uber-classic “I am Legend”, she give me “The Kite Runner”. Which, I must say, was a marginally improvement over “Cholera” at best.

Don’t believe my books were better? The main character in “Love in the time of Cholera” describes for one… *1* ENTIRE PAGE… how his urine smells like asparagus if he eats too much of it. Which happens often because he likes the taste so much. ONE ENTIRE PAGE. Yeah, yeah, it’s classic of unrequited love but it damn near killed me. And, don’t get me started on Kite Runner which consisted of 40 pages of betraying your best friend (dick!) and 150 pages of whining and general indecisiveness (loser!).

At least I tried to give her books she had a chance of liking. I think the Wife was punishing me.

Anyway, the latest book “The Sheep Look Up” by John Brunner. Originally published in 1972, Sheep is a novel about environmental disaster, along with the co-opting of America by the media and large corporations. The book is rife with little details such as, the US imports 60% more oxygen than it produces and it’s primary export is pollution in the form or airborne particulates and if you are outside for too long without a filter mask then you throat will burn. It’s also full of wonderful character development as people struggle to come to grips with life in the world. This doesn't mean people live in caves struggling to survive, far from it in fact. The characters are reporters, policeman, and even a corporate flunky. It's interesting to see how the extreme environment affects them. It also provide rich details about the haves (rich) and have nots (poor).

One aspect of the book I really enjoy, is the balance between short chapters of factoids that describe the environmental situation and chapters of character development. I am only 50 pages into the book and we are still establishing characters but I think there is going to be a large cast with a series of intertwining tales that will come to a conclusion. If you like grand science fiction novels, this is a good book for you.

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