Sunday, July 11, 2021

Welcome To My Reading Week: Early July, 2021

 Okay, let's do this. I've got my Belle (Beauty and the Beast) socks on and my reading journal at my side. Here's a look at my read life from July 1-11:

What I read:

Who Is Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson? - James Buckley, Jr. Nonfiction. I know that I complained about the 50-page offerings in the Who Was...? series, but this one felt just right. Not rushed at all. I enjoyed reading about how Dwayne Johnson grew up with a father and grandfather who were famous wrestlers, and how Dwayne tried to become a successful pro football player before following in the family business and finding success in the WWE. Despite its brevity, the book did justice to Johnson's charm and charisma.

The Mayor of MacDougal Street - Dave Van Ronk. Memoir. Recently, I watched Inside Llewyn Davies, a Coen brothers movie that came out a few years ago, while I was living in Busan. It was one of the films featured at the Busan International Film Festival, but I couldn't get a ticket to see it. The story of a folksinger going through a rough patch in Greenwich Village in 1961, the title character is loosely based on Dave Van Ronk who seemed to know everyone and everybody across several musical genres, including a new kid from Minnesota called Bob Dylan. Van Ronk died in the middle of working on this memoir, so parts of it feel a bit disjointed, and while his musical insights are illuminating and entertaining, those sections are a bit rambly. Ditto for his political views. Still, I'm glad to have read The Mayor of MacDougal Street. (Many thanks to The Spawn for tracking down both the book and the movie for me.) Dave Van Ronk was a hilarious guy with a trenchant sense of humor, and his chapter about a cross-country trip from NYC to LA with a fellow musician and a 12-year-old kid in tow makes up for the unevenness of some of the other chapters. One big surprise: Dave Van Ronk was also heavily into science fiction fandom. What if he was at a convention I attended in San Francisco back in the early 1990s? My heart beats a little faster to imagine it. By the way: If anyone is working on a time machine, please consider sending me to Greenwich Village, 1958-1961. Thank you.

What I'm reading:

The Night Watchman - Louise Erdrich. Novel. At first, I didn't like the latest winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and complained about it bitterly in a couple of letters to my bookwormy friends Care and Teri. But once I got to the 170-page mark, I settled in, or Louise Erdrich settled in, and now I like it much better. 

Little Bird of Heaven - Joyce Carol Oates. Novel. I'm audiobooking this one, and I love it. Typical JCO dark and depressing and sharp with an upper New York State setting to match the bleakness of the narrative. I never thought of listening to Oates on audiobook before, but it's an inspired match. I feel a little crazy after my commute, but in a good way.

Cheeky: A Head-to-Toe Memoir - Ariella Elovic. Graphic Novel. If Elovic never does another book in her whole career, and she will, because she's only 30, she will have performed a valuable service to female humanity. This funny, frank, charming, whimsical, eye-opening memoir is her effort to change the conversation with herself about her body self-consciousness from "Imperfection!" to "I'm perfection!" I'm already halfway through Cheeky and loving every single page of it. I think it's already influencing my thinking, because I winced when a friend took a selfie of herself and her pet and asked us to excuse her unmade-up face, which is absolutely beautiful as it is. Anyway, I hope Cheeky gathers a wide audience, and I wish it could have somehow been around back in the 1970s and 1980s. There's that time machine longing again.


Care said...

Here's hoping you get that time machine and write about your adventures. I love time travel stories.

Ruthiella said...

I really liked The Night Watchman, but yes, it does jump a bit. But Patrice "Pixie" Paranteau is going to stay with me for a long time. Such a great character.