I am enthralled with City on Fire by Garth Risk Halberg. I’m please to say so because it’s been a little while since I’ve been enthralled with a book. I’m only 120 or so pages into the 600+ page novel so I’ll be able to enjoy this one for a couple of days. I hope.
You know how things can turn.
I’ve been following The Tournament of Books for the first time thanks to some pushing via twitter by a few fans of JamesReadsBooks. I’ve even ordered the book that knocked A Little Life out of the running, The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra. I’ve no idea what it’s about or if I’ll like it, but any book that knocks out A Little Life deserves a read. However, the Tournament of Books has something called a Zombie Round where books voted reader favorites are allowed a second chance. I’m betting the Zombie Round will feature the return of A Little Life, but fair enough, I guess. The book does have a lot of fans.
Next year, I’ll be able to do some reading just for the tournament once the brackets are announced.
Outside of City on Fire I’ve been slogging my way through a couple of books, Philip K. Dick’s The Pentultimate Truth and Travel Team by Mike Lupica. The Dick book has an entertaining premise but is bogged down by a lack of any central character. The story concerns a future where most of humanity has been confined to a complex of underground bunkers while a handful of protectors live above ground still fighting it out in a post nuclear holocaust ruined world. The book’s central conceit is that there never was a nuclear war. Those above ground faked it and have kept those below in the dark about it for 15 years. Good idea; not so interesting in the execution.
The Mike Lupica book is a sports novel about basketball for kids. Lupica writes novels about sports for middle schoolers. He’s one of the big three, that I know of, Tim Green and Matt Christopher are the other two. I’ve never read any of them, so I thought I’d give one of them a go. My students said Lupica was the one I’d like most, so I’m reading Travel Team. I can see why he’s popular but there is a lot about basketball in this book. A lot. But it will cross of the “sports book” square earning my my third Book Boingo bingo.
Then, in the middle of the week as I was getting into my car after leaving a meeting, some putz stuck his head out of a red pick-up which I’m sure his daddy bought for him and yelled FAGGOT! at me. My first reaction was to jump in my car and give chase, which I did. I think that’s a sign of tremendous progress, at least personal if not societal, that my first reaction was to chase the bigot down. He looked like a high school student and was travelling in the on-the-way-home direction so I figured I might be able to report him if I could get his license. (Okay, for a moment I considered following him until he parked so I could key his truck. I’m not proud of that, but I thought it.) Most students don’t know that they are under the school’s jurisdiction even on their way home from school; I probably have enough clout in the district to get him suspended. But he got away. I did report his car to the principal who passed the information along.
Anyway, please do not feel bad for me. I post this story in triumph because I know that that moment was probably the high point of that young man’s life. Today, homophobes experience diminishing popularity in California high schools. By senior year or shortly after his life will consists of a series of Instagram posts taken by strangers featuring his ass-crack hanging out while he shops at Wal-Mart. For young men like that one, it gets worse. I, on the other hand, always wear a belt when I shop at Wal-Mart.
I’ll be in Los Angeles later this week at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs national conference where I’ll be listening in on many panel discussions and many author presentations. It should be fun. That’s where I’ll be Friday morning when the TBR Triple Dog Dare comes it’s final end. How is everyone doing? Just four more days to go.
I plan on celebrating with a trip to The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles.