Wednesday, September 16, 2009

21, 20

I promise when I get through with this book list stuff to go back on the warpath with the blogging, but really... there are only so many hours in the day.

Anyway, this pair of books is pretty dark.

Hey Nostradamus! : Douglas Coupland --I wasn't much impressed with his book Generation X. It seemed about half-baked and mostly just thrown together. My official opinion at the time I read it (circa 1997 or so) was, "who did he blow to get this published?"

You can only go up from there. Hey Nostradamus! is a decent novel, though at times, it feels like he's cribbing style from Chuck P or even Kurt V. The premise is a few disgruntled kids go on a shooting rampage through the cafeteria of their high school before they are interrupted by a lone kid, Jason, who manages to kill one of the gunmen.

The novel then sorts through the life of the one hero kid and his family in the years following the attack. The book is supposed to be a dark comedy and sure, they're are dark comic moments, but it's more of a tragedy. Jason is haunted by what happened and what he lost. His girlfriend/secret wife was among the killed. The stress of the situation cracks the miserable facade of his parents' marriage and really, it's a long slide downward for everybody.

Depressing, but genuinely moving, though only really funny if you take a lot of prescription medication.

Warhorses (poems) : Yusef Komunyakaa - It took a long time for me to warm up to this one. Komunyakaa's poetic imagery is heavily influenced by military imagery, combat and gore. It was kind of a turn-off, but eventually, I came around and really dug his ability to turn a phrase. Some of his poetry seemed to be about being carried along by forces beyond your ability to control and also a struggle to be a soldier without becoming a savage.

I seldom read about poets before I read their work. I don't want to build up sympathy with their own actual history, but would rather know them through their words. The agony of parts of his life make me wonder how he's managed to write anything, particularly in the last few years, but maybe that's part of his poetry, too --a dumb resolve to keep moving forward.

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