April 21st, 2011

Dead Dog Cat

#29, 30

There's days on end when I don't finish a book, and then I finish several in a few days. The last couple of days have been like that.

Since yesterday, I finished two books.

First was The Compleat Distiller, a manual of distillation of spirits as well as herbal essences. It's very technical, not an easy read. Not bad, and if I decide to LEGALLY produce oils or scents from things from our garden, because production of distilled spirits from beer, wine, or mead is ILLEGAL here in the US, I'll have a proper manual on how to go about it.

Second was a graphic novel, The Oz/Wonderland Chronicles: Book One, whose art I liked, and I thought they did a credible job with the subject matter. Not bad.
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Book 6

Book six
City of Spies - Susan Kim


This graphic novel was actually a gift and at first didn't really appear to be my thing. Even worse, it technically is a kid's book.
Our hero, Evelyn is sent to live with her unconventional aunt in 1942 New York City. A girl used to being alone, she spends her days imagining she is part of a band of heroes who are battling Nazis and their ilk. Eventually, she makes an unlikely friend in Tony, the building super's son.
They link up just in time for a game to let them stumble upon an actual Nazi plot. What follows is some very noir action, a chance at redemption and even a sly look at class and society.
In other words, I found myself liking this in spite of myself. There is some genuine danger and darkness, which makes me wonder just what age of kid this was intended for. But my inner kid got a kick out of something new showing up on my shelf.
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Book 7 gets its own long entry

Book 7
Bossypants - Tina Fey


Let me preface this review with a disclosure: I adore Tina Fey.
No, not (hopefully) in a creepy way. My love and admiration are for her brains and wit. I'd love to sit and have coffee with her, just to talk. OK, that might be a bit creepy. But it's not like I have to worry about it. The woman is so damn busy, the odds of her having a down moment to run into me - and realize how much we have in common! - are nil.
This is reality. As is this book, which instead of a memoir is a series of incidents that Fey recalls from her life with warmth, humor and a healthy dose of feminism.
What's interesting is amid the self-deprecation and the clever observations, there actually isn't too awfully much of Tina in here. It's more like reading her take on people and moments, without necessarily knowing why.
One chapter that really stands out in contrast to that carefully constructed privacy is her description of her father. It's easy to see how the self-described dorky teen was able to ignore any feeling of awkwardness and persevere once you learn about her loving, slightly scary father. There is something to be said, I think, for having a healthy fear of your parent(s). It usually means they love with enough ferocity, you don't ever want to let them down. I've also long believed that the difference in any child's life is knowing you have one person, just one, whose love is so unconditional and complete, you feel safe enough to fly. From Tina's description, Don Fey was that parent.
Fey might be that parent., too. One of my favorite chapters in the book is a prayer for her daughter. And it contains my favorite line, "I will not have that shit. I will not have it."
What little bit of Tina that shines through shows that she is, in fact, a bossypants who is both sharp and mean. Who wouldn't want to have some time with that?
I know, I know. Unlikely. Reckon I'll go watch the 100th episode of "30 Rock" to console myself.