August 1st, 2016

kitty, reading

Books #45-46

Book #45 was "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek" by Annie Dillard. This is a classic of nature writing and won Dillard a Pulitzer Prize. It harkens back to the transcendental movement as she uses her observations about nature around her to explore deeper subjects, ranging from how we learn to interpret what we see to why humans react to unfettered fecundity as if it's deeply disgusting. I could only read 10 or 12 pages at a time most of the time because it is just so dense with imagery, ideas, and vocabulary. This is a deeply rewarding piece of writing, and I've got more by Dillard on my "to read" list now.

Book #46 was "A Widow for One Year" by John Irving. I've read at least 4 of Irving's previous novels and particularly liked "A Prayer for Owen Meany." This novel has many of Irving's trademarks, including ingenious long-term plotting and a quirky characters. The book is ostensibly about Ruth Cole, a young woman whose mother leaves her and her father when Ruth is 4-years-old, and who grows up to be a writer. However, it's really a book about grief. Her mother leaves because she can't get over the death of Ruth's two older brothers. Ruth's father is there for her and is a decent father but he's a skirt-chaser in the worst way. The other main character is Eddie, who was a writer's assistant to Ruth's father (a famous writer of children's books) and fell in love with Ruth's mother. Eddie is a writer as well, though much less successful than Ruth or her father, and he never falls out of love with Ruth's mother, even after she disappears out of his and Ruth's life. Irving is a master at taking a subject like grief and still making you laugh at absurd moments. I love his long-term plotting and how a comic scene that feels like a throw-away scene will keep coming back into the plot years, even decades, later. This wasn't my favorite Irving of all time, but even a second-rate Irving is bound to be an excellent read. I really enjoyed it.

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The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

book 65:  The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

I guess I would best call The Prophet a semi-fictional parable broken into chapters on different life/ spiritual subjects, with an introductory and closing story, all written in prose/ poetry.  The last section, The Farewell, felt a bit melodramatic and verbose, but otherwise my reaction to this classic was "this is very beautiful and wise".  I was frequently moved to tears.  I think everyone could glean some wisdom from this book

Gin Tama, volumes 20-22 by Hideaki Sorachi

book 66:  Gin Tama, Volume 20 by Hideaki Sorachi

Continuation of samurai/ alien alternate history comedic parody...

In this volume, the battle to save the Shinsengumi ends with Gin and friends displaying some epic fighting skills and often hidden deep compassionate sides.  Good arc.  To not let this turn into an action drama, we then move to Yamazaki's funeral (well, really the dog's funeral with Yamazaki as an add on), unfortunately (?) he's not really dead.  Then Gin teaches (sort of) an editor of a struggling samurai/ alien alternate history comedic parody (hrm...) how to re-engage readers.  (Too bad the manga-ka is a gorilla.)  Kagura's father, Umibozu, single-handedly saves the world (one commercial at a time).  Gin gives Kagura a new umbrella (one of the most adorable arcs in the entire series!).  Yamazaki tries to infiltrate Katsura's rebel exclusionist faction.  And, the gang ends up going to The Dragon Palace, where things do not go according to plan (do they ever?), and Gin and Katsura end up as feeble, senile, old men.

book 67:  Gin Tama, Volume 21 by Hideaki Sorachi

The gang has to save all of Edo from being turned into elderly people, but their two best fighters, Gin and Katsura, are a bit on the feeble, useless side themselves (or are they?!).  Gin shows Tama, the emotionally evolved robot a good time (or vice versa).  Gin tries to reconcile a dying yakuza boss with his estranged son.

book 68:  Gin Tama, Volume 22 by Hideaki Sorachi

The yakuza arc resolves.  (Sad Gin face breaks my heart.  *sniff*)  Hasegawa becomes a sushi chef (well, almost).  The shinsengumi have to clean the bathroom.  Aliens replace some of the gangs' body parts with screw drivers.  Katsura ends up in prison and inadvertently interferes with another inmate's escape plans.