Friday, January 23, 2009

Here's the small stack of advance ready copies (ARC's) that we received this week. Nooks and crannies around the store - the kitchen, the office, the hallways - and my home basement...are filled with these. Now, don't go getting the impression that I'm a crazy pack-rat person. What I save, I save with intention, or by accident, or out of fear of economic depression, enemy insurrection, threat of monsoons, or personal tragedy so profound it renders me incapable of gathering more stuff. So, I repeat, I am not a crazy pack-rat person.

Then why do I allow these ARC's to occupy spaces in my life where little or no space exists? Part of me believes that I will someday read them. One by one. Page by page. Story by story. I want to read them, and so when the great winter sorting begins, the ARC's generally make it though the cut. I also enjoy giving copies to friends who I know have a favorite author, theme, or style. Sometime I slip them a title contrary to their norm to see what happens.

I like the imagined conversations the recipients of these free tokens might have with the bookish companions. "Of course I read that old thing. I read it six months before it was published. Pre-publication novels are my genre of choice. But you have to wait until the release date, or until the library scrapes together enough cash to buy a copy. You poor, poor creature, you!" At this point, there is surely a superior head toss, and a nasty, satisfied, internal laugh.

Each of these little treasure comes with tons of hype exploding off the covers, and in letters from the publishers and authors promising the book to be the next NYT #1 bestseller. The teasers are all quite hyperbolic...but, I fall for them. Hence the collection of unread ARC's at every turn.

Here's a sample of the promo material...
Secrets She Left Behind.....One afternoon, single mother, Sara Weston, says that she's going to the store - and never returns. In her absence, she leaves her teenage son alone with his damaged past and a legacy of secrets!

The Duck that Won the Lottery...more addictive mental workouts from the author of The Pig that Wants to be Eaten

The Boss...exposes the truth about what work can do to the human soul

and finally....

Fool, by Christopher Moore...Warning: this is a bawdy tale. Herein you will find gratuitous shagging, murder, spanking, maiming, treason, and heretofore unexplored heights of vulgarity and profanity, as well as non-traditional grammar, split infinitive, and the odd wank. If that sort of thing bothers you, then gentle reader, pass by, for we endeavor only to entertain, not to offend. That said, if that's the sort of thing you think you might enjoy, then you have happened upon the perfect story.

So, which one would you pick? I'm reading Fool. The tantalizing warning was playful enough to draw me in, but I do enjoy Moore's work in small doses. He is bawdy. He is irreverent. He is twisted. But he takes classic stories and fractures them to the point of irresistible hilarity. Fool is a retelling of Shakespeare's King Lear, from the court jester's perspective, and everything promised in the marketing come-on is delivered. I have to read Moore books fast. His humor has momentum, and if I stop reading at the wrong point in the set up, and return to the plot in mid-stream, it seems a lot like frat boy humor. The stuff that made David Letterman famous...throwing water balloons out of 12 story windows at passers-by.

So far, so good. The plot is true to the Lear line of daughters, Regan, Goneril and Cordelia. Since I know what happens in the original, I can concentrate on the escapades of the rascally jester, and his stories of saints' lives - St.Rufus of Pipewrench who was licked to death by a marmot; St. Cinnamon who drove the mazdas out of Swinden. Moore makes me laugh. So does Augusten Borroughs. I have also dug into his essay collection called Magical Thinking. He's got a David Sedaris vibe, and that works just fine for me.


Heart-A-Rama kicked off on Sunday when the steering committee gathered to read the scripts that our writing groups have submitted for this year's show. That means auditions are not far behind. HAR serves as a wonderful winter blues buster for me. When I was still teaching, I'd hear my colleagues talk about the long haul from Christmas to Easter with hardly a break. I was never affected. I had HAR rehearsals to look forward to a couple night a week, along with all the hoopla of getting the show details organized. The time flew. Winter is not so cumbersome when you have something you enjoy to fill the chilly days.

*****Here's GB after her haircut. What's up with that crazy eye, huh?

I just cannot get a good picture of this animal. GB is much cuter than this satanic eye shot shows. But, at least I can say that I have a picture of her face. I usually get her tail, or her butt, as she walks out of the shot. I call this her Sarah Woodruff pose. Remember that heartbreaking scene in The French Lieutenant's Woman, where Sarah stares out to sea, painfully alone, waiting for the return of her lost lover? The sticken look on Meryl Streep's face remains one of the strongest movie images for me. Can't you just feel the melancholy in GB's heart? Perhaps it's gas.

Here's a Shakespeare chuckle:

Three things you'll never hear a redneck say:

3. Come to think of it, I would enjoy a cosmopolitan.

2. Duct tape most certainly will not fix that!

1. I'll take Shakespeare for $1000.00, Alex.

And so, I bid you adieu.

A short afterword: What a difference a day makes! I wrote this blog yesterday, and while, yes, it is still bitterly cold today, isn't this a beautiful day? The air is clear, and the sun is dancing off the ice crusted snowbanks. Now, I suppose it helps that I went to bed at 9:30 last night. GB's snoring work me. She had nestled herself on my pillow with her back end tucked neatly into the curve shaped by my neck and shoulder. The world sure does look grand after a good night's rest with a dog butt on your shoulder!

Oh, if you can, check out the exhibit at the Rahr West...featured works by Ron Stokes and the Art and About group.

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