Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Four Books, each of which you can read in an afternoon

I don't have a TV or the internets in my new apartment, so i've been forced to read alot and sleep early:

The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark

A single woman takes a vacation from her job as an accountant.

A friend of mine has been talking about Muriel Spark since she (Spark) passed away a year ago. Running out of ways to avoid doing work, I finally borrowed the aforementioned book. It's written in a detached style that manages to hold your interest and then totally messes with you at the end. Spark is imaginative and doesn't give you the hollywood ending that you think she is leading you to. After you read it once, you'll want to read it again to see how you could have missed it. Spark is the kind of writer you think that you can be, if only you had any good ideas. Needless to say, I'm now hooked. The next book by Spark that I'm reading is called Memento Mori. It's about the various responses to a prank phone call a group of different people receive reminding them that they will die one day.

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

How a couple (both virgins) spent their awkward wedding night together

I kept hearing about *this* guy and *this* book. Once I realized how short it was, I caved in. Don't read the reviews for this book, they give too much away! I thought it was mostly hilarious and then you get hit with a bad case of "Carpe Diem" at the end. This book is the fancy literary analogue to the movie "American Pie." Be sure to keep track of the number of times that he uses the phrase "a sign of maturity." McEwan is the kind of writer that makes you realize that, even if you had a good idea, you couldn't ever come close to his writing ability.

The Little Book of Plagiarism by Richard A. Posner

Similar topics as my earlier post, but more coherent & incisive, using fewer but bigger words

Posner is a judge who is famous for, among other things, his contributions to law and economics. He defines plagiarism as "unauthorized copying that the copier claims is original with him." In addition, this claim *must* cause the copier's audience "to behave otherwise than it would if it knew the truth." One thing that I learned was that judges are, at most, simply editors of their opinions which are actually written by their clerks. I don't know if this is also true for the supremes. One final point: Posner argues that originality and creativity are two related but very different things (perhaps a future post).

The Big Book of Irony by Jon Winokur

What Irony is and isn't, Who does it well, and Why some people don't like it and why

This little book is funny yet thought-provoking. Winokur is a master quote collector and it shows. He frequently refers to Douglas Coupland, who coined the term Generation-X, and a very bright but strange guy named Jedediah Purdy. Purdy wrote a book in his early twenties lamenting the widespread use of ironic detachment in his peers (people our age).

1 comment:

Matt said...

Thanks, Jaideep. I think I may check one of those out when I go to the library today.

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