Tuesday, August 21, 2007

from The Thin Red Line :Tokyo Cancelled Practically Perfect Hep-Cats

Note this is the original post from TRL. A post with the title remains on TRL with more personal informaiton edited out.

Sunset falls as ferry crosses Eliot Bay
undated photograph by Joel Farmer

Today's pic is for Ron, who admired the ferry pic I previously posted. Yesterday I finally saw dr. shrink, who sez I am not depressed and who prescribed Xanax for my anxiety, which my huzband greatly approves of. Meanwhile, my tooth ache is back, though thankfully off again/on again rather than constant. Unfortunately, no relief will be forthcoming until my root canal on the 25th (the dental office flatly refused to refill my pain pill and I am reminded again that we live in a society that prefers to punish people for hurting rather than ease their pain). Sigh.

I confess that today's books have all three been on my couch in varying stages of being read for a couple of weeks now and were not in my mind connected until Blog Rush advised that I could improve my click through rate with catchier headlines. My apologies to anyone who clicked through expecting a sensational story about a local government summarily executing exceptional jazz singers.

Compared to Chaucer's Cantebury Tales, Tokyo Cancelled is a novel about delayed travelers entertaining each other by telling stories. A flight to Tokyo is diverted by weather and lands unexpectedly in an un-named city (presumably Delhi, India) where they find that an economic conference and the protests it has drawn have created a shortage of hotel rooms. Eventually all but thirteen of the planes passengers are dispatched to various accommodations when the remainder are told there are no more rooms to be had and settle in for a night in an airport lounge and begin telling each other stories to pass the time. The group of travelers proves to be from all over the world and each tells a very different story. The framework of this novel allows the author, Rana Dasgupta, to explore an unusually diverse range of ideas and settings, which he masterfully does, while never losing the believability of the 'stuck at the airport' framework. A thanks to Cromley whose review first brought this one to my attention. Recommended.

I have never been a big fan of "self-help". While I firmly believe that each and every one of us must solve his own problems (if for no other reason than that nobody else is going to do it for you), I have rarely been a fan or a consumer of the mega industry of self-proclaimed experts with a sure fire scheme for resolving some problem or another
they are convinced I have. Neither apparently has Jennifer Niesslein, whose Practically Perfect gently skewers a wide range of self-help gurus and movements. It reminded me a bit of Aunt Erma's Cope Book, though in a very conversational tone that is evocative of a diary or journal rather than Bombeck's laugh out loud wit. The book did not persuade me to try Real Simple or any of the other self help philosophies mentioned, but I am confident Niesslein never intended it to. Recommended.

Hep-Cats, Narcs, and Pipe Dreams passed under my check-in scanner a couple of Sundays ago and caught my eye. I brought it home and read the introduction, which has a very "Drug War" tone and left me feeling the book would be more of the usual propaganda and set it aside, unread. Ron then picked it up and read it and liked it very much. He said that contrary to the impression I got from the introduction, this very readable history of prohibition in America clearly shows the lunacy and un-intended consequences that have flowed from our tragically flawed drug policies. He liked it very much and it is now back on my 'to read' pile. Jury still out on this one.

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