Monday, March 30, 2009


I just barely got these nailed down, but in my own defense, I went against my own advice and started a book dealing with Buddhism. Those tend to slow me down since I try to think about what's being said. More about that next week.

Fargo Rock City: Chuck Klosterman -God bless you, Chuck. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I feel a little better about the crap I listened to growing up. As has been mentioned before, my musical tastes are a bit suspect. I was into Billy Idol, Iron Maiden, Huey Lewis and The News and often whatever was in medium rotation on MTV. I was stationed at the the farthest outpost from cool. I owned both a Ratt and an Air Supply album.

Klosterman's book revisits mostly glam/pop metal, the music the two of us grew up on. It looks at the history of the genre's movement, where it came from and how it died (Damn you, Cobain). It's a funny, light read, full of insight and takes to task the poseurs (which was virtually everybody) in a sentimental way. There were times I laughed my ass off. He had wonderfully awful, but smart things, to say about Guns N Roses, Ratt, Poison and Motley Crue --bands with occasionally dubious artistic qualities, but bands he nevertheless loves. He also reminded me, an honest to goodness fan is more than justified to rant and rail, even against bands they love. It's okay to bitch. You can love something completely without having to drink the Koolaid.

The Namesake: Jhumpa Lahiri -This one won the Pulitzer prize. Look at the size of my brain, people.

The novel follows the story of Gogol Ganguli, an ABCD (American Born Confused Deshy -means, basically, east Indian born in the west), the child of Indian immigrants, as he tries to find equilibrium in a western culture that doesn't really understand him and an eastern culture he often rejects.

The book takes a careful approach to how the two societies mix (both view each other with curiosity, but consider the other, in some way, inferior). Lahiri does a remarkable job of capturing some of the wonder and difficulty of the immigrant experience without screaming intolerance at the top of her lungs. She doesn't try to put anybody on a pedestal and neatly sidesteps turning this into an Indian-American fairytale with a crowd-pleasing traditional Bollywood ending.

It's a wonderful piece of fiction and truly, a great American novel.

1 comment:

Rob said...

Fargo Rock City is, hands down, one of my favorite books. I have read it cover to cover at least 5 or 6 times, and it still merits a spot in the back-of-the-toilet basket so I can peruse it while, um.. going #2.