Monday, January 26, 2009

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch *****

I was first aware of Randy Pausch when Katie Couric announced his death on the evening news on July 25, 2008. I guess by that time the youtube film of his last lecture had made him famous, but I wasn't in tune to that as much as others & so had never heard of him. After seeing the news story, Dog went online & listened to his lecture. He told me it was great & I needed to watch it, but there's a lot I need to do that I don't get around to & that was one of them.

Then a few weeks later, the interview he did with Diane Sawyer aired & we watched it together. There were excerpts from his lecture included, but I still wasn't convinced. I guess I just get tired of having people held up as the ideal, either in the way they live their lives or how they die, & feeling like a very selfish, sub-human creature afterwards because I get upset about not getting what I want. I feel sometimes that's the set up the media gives us so we'll buy more stuff & try to become perfect.

But this Christmas, a friend of mine from work that I don't get to see very much anymore gave me the book. First Dog read it, then Dick read it. Then I finally gave in.

Here's the thing that's great--never does he make out that he's got the answers to all life's problems. The book is for his kids. It's all the things he wants them to know, that he wasn't going to be able to tell them himself. It's not for anyone else. We can read it, of course, but he didn't write it for us. And that's the beauty of the whole thing.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer ***

I know, I know. I've jumped on the teenage-girl bandwagon & read the book that all females under 18 have read about 5 times & seen the movie about 6 times & talk about with their friends on a constant basis. And it's pretty good.

If you haven't heard of this series of teenage vampire books yet, you may need to look around you & see if your home is indeed under a large slab of granite. Geared toward teenage girls & all they crave, Twilight is one of those books you don't want to like, but you do. As a 38 year old woman who's been married for almost 15 years, some of the sappy romantic lines made me roll my eyes, but the tension between the 2 main characters is great. Edward is a vampire, & Bella isn't. So she's always running the risk of him getting a wild hair up his ass & eating her. Yep, it's a little different.

Reading this book was like time travel for me, not because my high school years were anything like what the characters experience (HA! Not only did I not date any vampires while in high school, I didn't date any humans either!), but because of reading vampire books. Interview with the Vampire was out in paperback, & my best friend loaned me hers after she finished it. Soon we were both on to The Vampire Lestat & then Queen of the Damned. That's as far as I got in the series, though my friend read every last one. But I so much remember talking with her about every little detail of those books, all those years ago: who should play Lestat if they made a movie? how could they actually get a child to play Claudia? was Lestat really so bad?

Those were the days!

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson *****

Every once in a while you come across a book out of nowhere--you don't know why you picked it up, but there it is in your hand & you're going to give it a chance. Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon was like that for me--I just found it laying on a shelf at the library & grabbed it. It was great, not just because it was well written, but because it was mine--I found it all by myself.

I can't claim that with this book, but I wish I could. I found it here, the same place I found the previous book. From the get go, this book is crazy. Get this--a porn star/producer wrecks his car while high on cocaine & booze & suffers horrible 3rd degree (maybe 4th degree) burns to his body, one burn being so bad he has to get a penisectomy (yep, it's what you think it is!). While in the burn unit at the local hospital, a beautiful female psych patient come into his room & tells him that they were lovers in 14th century Germany. Thinking her crazy, the narrator (who I just realized is never named) is not sure what to make of her, but after her repeated visits he starts to warm to her. She's the only visitor he gets, outside of his PT & a staff psychiatrist, & she seems to care for him deeply. On her visits she tells him stories, either about her own life & how they met or about other star-crossed lovers. Despite himself, the narrator is pulled into her life & a bond is formed.

You've got to admit, the premise sure grabs you. But what's wonderful is that it doesn't disappoint after the initial shock. It's a wonderful first novel, & I can tell it's a first novel for Andrew Davidson because it seems to be full of all the stories he's been pondering over the years as he got up the nerve to write. I hope he can continue on the road he's begun, because I for one would love to read more from him.