Monday, March 9, 2009

81, 80,79 and 78

I'm reporting in four this week... Some were good. One was okay and one was... eh...

Foxfire: Elliot Wigginton - Almost 40 years ago, a teacher in Georgia got his students to work on a magazine project involving local history, customs and craft. What eventually emerged was Foxfire, an occasionally successful magazine and a very successful series of books. Volume one covered everything from favorite recipes to building a log cabin to how to slaughter and prepare hogs. It's insightful, in that you get a general idea of how something might be done, but wouldn't be like an actual education. Attempting to make a log cabin based only on what you read would probably end in disaster, but it might be a good start toward learning from someone else.

I liked book one. I figure I'll read some of the others, though I'll take care on trying any of this stuff out. Foxfire had a nice long section of rural medicine. Some of these home remedies could kill a healthy person, let alone help you with burns or snakebite.

The Power of Positive No: William Ury - William Ury is a big league negotiator who has sat down with everyone from coal miners to Hugo Chavez to hammer out agreements. Ury's basic idea is that in order to be able to say "yes," you have to be able to really say "no." The problem with "no," of course, is that pisses the other guy off. He offers a formula for how to cushion the impact by wedging the "no" in between two yeses. The point is to spin positive, while telling someone else they're not getting what they want. This sounds vaguely like what we used to call a shit sandwich. Anyway, he does offer some decent suggestions for dealing with difficult people.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris - David Sedaris is a funny, funny guy. This book revolves around the humorist's eventual move to France with his boyfriend Hugh. The stories, some of them cringingly personal, are Sedaris's observations of himself, his family and his friends. As what seems typical with Sedaris, he's not really coping or trying to understand anything, but just paying attention and giggling as it suits him.

Fabulous Hell: Craig Curtis -Curtis never bothers to name his main character who is a drugged out AIDS victim, who drinks too much, fucks nearly indiscriminately and can't seem to hold down a job. The nameless stranger veers from self-pity to self-destruction to vague and fleeting self-awareness. It's an interesting ride at points, set in a world that is apparently all gay. Other than the nameless character's mother, I never get the impression Curtis's world is populated with any heterosexual characters. Everybody is gay, in the closet and gay or an old lady.

The book has a few funny points, but is mostly a disappointment. It never goes far enough with the debasement to really mean anything or at least, be entertaining. It isn't funny very often and while there's a certain ring of truth to some of the situations, Curtis just doesn't push anything far enough to make Fabulous Hell anything more than a slog. It's like a Brett Easton Ellis book without the skin crawling desperation or the black wit.

1 comment:

The Film Geek said...

I'm a fan of how Sedaris crafts a story. He's such an artist. And it helps that he has the sense of humor of an 8-year-old boy.