Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Book Stick Thing

Okay, let's see.

You are a character in Fahrenheit 451. Which book would you choose to memorize to preserve it from the fire?

My first thought was Cat's Cradle which I usually say is my favorite book, but on second thought I'm going to go with The Forgotten Revolution: How Science Was Born in 300 BC and Why It Had to Be Reborn by Lucio Russo.

Because, probably lots and lots of people would memorize Cat's Cradle, but hardly anybody by comparison has read The Forgotten Revolution or likes it as much as I do.

Plus, it's quite fitting, because if The Forgotten Revolution is right, then European civilization really did go through a sort of Fahrenheit 451 scenario with the most important books being burned or lost.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

You think that I'm going to say Buffy the Vampire Slayer. ("When times get tough he/ Just hides behind his Buffy/ Now watch him getting huffy/ 'Cause he knows that I know...") And I suppose there's some truth to that, but let's be realistic, how much do we have in common? Is there any future to our relationship? No, the girl only has eyes for vampires.

So, it might be more healthy for me to give up on the Slayer and get back in touch with Lisa Miller from NewsRadio.

If television characters don't count, only characters from books, then... I don't think I'd call it a crush, but Elizabeth Bennet seems like a catch, I'd date her.

Anyway, according to Jurgen, every woman ever loved by a man was a fictional character. [rim shot]

The last book you bought is:

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris.

The last book you read:

The last book I read any part of was The Infrared & Electro-Optical Systems Handbook, Volume 1: Sources of Radiation.

The last book I read cover to cover was the Sedaris.

What are you currently reading?

I'm a couple of pages from the end of re-reading Slaughterhouse Five: Or, the Children's Crusade, A Duty-Dance with Death by Kurt Vonnegut... Wait... Okay, I just finished it.

I'm a few pages from the end of Jurgen: A Comedy of Justice by James Branch Cabell. I guess this is American fantasy literature the way they wrote it in 1919, and boy, is it strange. I can barely imagine anything like that being written or published today. Pilgrims-Progress-style allegory has really gone out of style. Perhaps the writer closest to that style today would be Neil Gaiman. It isn't much of a coincidence that I decided to read Jurgen after seeing Neil Gaiman and Michael Swanwick each mention their interest in James Branch Cabell.

I'm two hundred fifty pages into Perdido Street Station by China Mieville, which means three hundred seventy pages to go. British fantasy literature the way they wrote it in 2001. I got it because it won the Arthur C. Clarke Award and it was nominated for various other awards. It's okay but I'm not really wild about it. I may not bother to finish it in the near future.

Perhaps I'll go back and finish A Devil's Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love, a collection of essays by Richard Dawkins. I set it down six months ago (!) but I'm still conscious of it sitting there.

Five books you would take to a deserted island:

Structures: Or Why Things Don't Fall Down by J.E. Gordon. Because I like it. And okay, it might be at least slightly useful in building a house or something on the deserted island. But I'm not going to fill the rest of my list with survival manuals and boat-building textbooks and so forth.

Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter. Because I think it is probably a rewarding book to read with close attention, and one could re-read it several times and still get more out of it. And if I might be stuck on this island for a long time...

History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon, complete and unabridged in six volumes. To make double sure that I don't run out of reading material.

The Complete Novels of Jane Austen. Some lighter entertainment.

Lanark: A Life in Four Books by Alasdair Gray. Because I haven't read it and I guess I should have at least one thing along that I've never read at all.

I find it slightly amusing how many of these books had subtitles.

Who are you going to pass this stick to and why?

No one, because although I sometimes enjoy taking these little quizzes, I don't like the chain-letter part where it demands that you go forth and multiply it, like a flu virus or an organized religion or a grandparent.

That said, if you want to supply your own answers, Constant Reader, who am I to stop you?

Maybe Maribeth would like to do it.


At 8:37 AM, April 08, 2005, Blogger Joe said...

Earlier this week I filled out a slip for the Ann Arbor Public Library describing the book that most changed my life. I chose Cat's Cradle; go figure. So you're right, Vonnegut's probably safe--although personally I've never thought that Slaughterhouse Five was one of his best half-dozen books.

At 10:10 PM, April 09, 2005, Blogger Richard Mason said...

So which other ones do you like, if not Slaughterhouse Five (which I am willing to concede may not be the best, despite its high name recognition)? I liked Hocus Pocus, and The Sirens of Titan has some stellar bits in it although I don't know if it's so good as a whole. Galapagos was meh. Timequake was very similar, now that I think of it, to Slaughterhouse Five.

I don't think I ever read Breakfast of Champions.


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