Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Like Musical Chairs

 by Daddy X

When Jim Harrison passed a few months ago, I was compelled to read his The Big Seven, title referring to the seven deadly sins.

Harrison writes beautifully flawed characters, mostly country folk, and what makes them tick. How hearts and lives intertwine and affect those around them. In The Big Seven, Harrison’s recurring character, retired NY detective Sunderson, (Harrison doesn’t seem to give him a first name, but I didn’t realize that while reading) moves to a remote woodsy cabin for some lazy trout fishing and peaceful retirement.

Not to be. If what Sunderson is hoping for is peace and quiet, he doesn’t quite get what he needs. Except, of course, screwing virtually every female he comes in contact with, (or he at least thinks about it). He begins by falling for his cleaning lady, a member of the feuding, drunken redneck clan living on the next property over. Her murder prompts Sunderson to come out of retirement, confronting the reprehensible family for a hoot of an adversarial relationship.

In February, on the way to Hawaii, I bought Stephen King’s “Revival” at the airport. I like King’s storytelling abilities, and technical excellence, but lately, many of his books have left me cold. I read over half the book on the flight over. Sure, we all love an effortless read where we turn page after page, enthralled at the pacing, prose or scope of the narrative. Not so with “Revival”. I think it went down so easy because it read like a YA novel, not challenging at all.

(Momma X has called me a literary snob, and I will cop to that, so it may not be King’s work, but me who gets distracted too easily if not anchored to the page. One of those “It’s not you, it’s me,” kinda deals. :>)

So when we arrived at north shore Oahu, a book in the rental cabin bookshelf caught my eye: Reckless, by Chrissy Hines of the rock group The Pretenders. Wow, what a mistitled book that was. Talk about written for the lower IQ levels! I read the entire book in less than a day.

I have no doubt Ms, Hines did carry on. I’ll bet she drank a lot, did lots of drugs and had plenty of edgy times. She admits to much of that. But her account of the events lacked both detail and the energy I expected from such a potentially wild and interesting story. Ho hum. And, it distracted me from the King book I had read halfway through on the flight. When I went back to King’s Revival, it couldn’t hold my interest. So I went out, and, on Lisabet’s recommendation of Haruki Murakami, bought Norwegian Wood .

Murakami was a welcome change. His smooth delivery, sensitive characters and gentle pacing made Norwegian Wood the perfect introduction to his style. A note from the translator at the end said that this particular novel didn’t incorporate the understated magical properties typical of Murakami’s work. So when I got home, I went out and bought Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki—again, on Lisabet’s recommendation—and her choice for the last “What I’m Reading” topic.

When I began Colorless, the setup was so similar to Norwegian Wood, I decided to go with something else, lest the two Murakamis run together in my pea brain. So I set it aside when a friend loaned me A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, his account of hiking the Appalachian Trail. Not unlike what Cheryl Strayed accomplished in Wild, though Strayed went through a more ambitious and challenging experience.

The Appalachian Trail differs from the Pacific Crest Trail in that the AT has many places along the way where a hiker can meet other hikers, buy a sandwich, stay in a motel or drink a beer. In fact nearly every day held options. Not so on The PCT, where Strayed could walk for days or weeks at a time, living off the land and what it provided in necessities, filtering her own water and carrying her own food.

I tend to only review books I like on these pages, but it isn’t a perfect world. If a read doesn’t hold my interest, I want to move along.


So many books, so little time.

7 comments:

  1. Sounds like Chrissy Hines should have hired a ghost writer. Or, more likely, a better ghost writer. On the other hand, maybe the publisher had their own opinion as to the reading level of those who might want to buy the book.

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    1. Maybe she did hire a ghostwriter, and that was the problem.

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    2. I suspected a ghostwriter from early in the book. And I wouldn't be surprised if they wanted something that would sell without controversy. Kinda seems counterintuitive considering that controversy sells a lot of books.

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  2. Traveling--especially when it involves long flights or train rides--requires a certain type of book, in my experience. You need something absorbing that will draw you in and distract you from the physical discomfort. At the same time, it's difficult to focus on something that's intellectually difficult when your time zones are all messed up.

    At least, that's what I have found.

    We have a Boyle book on our shelves at home that I have not read, The Harder They Come. I considered bringing it on my current trip but decided against that, since it sounded pretty dark. That's not what I want/need when I'm on the road.

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    1. Boyle tends to the dark. Momma X just read The Terranauts (on my recommendation) and said there wasn't a likable character in the book.

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  3. I thought about picking up the Chrissy Hines book, but I didn't because lots of reviews said the same thing you have here. It's a shame because I've been on a real kick of memoirs written by female rock stars. But I'd strongly recommend Liv Albertine's and Carrie Brownsteins—those are both great. :)

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    1. And coming on the heels of "No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes" "Reckless" really fell flat.

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