Thursday, March 29, 2007

Book reviews and other news

I finished reading John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces today. A good read, but I never really felt "into" it until the final 50 or so pages. The ending was good, though, and it definitely had some laugh-out-loud parts. I think the main reason why I could never get into was that I didn't feel for any of the characters, I couldn't relate to them. Again, it wasn't a bad book, I'm not upset with reading it, I'm not even disappointed. I just feel I didn't really appreciate it as much as I should have, so I'm partially disappointed in myself.

Here's a quick rundown of the book. Ignatius Riley is the main character, a portly, no, fat, 30 year-old man living with his mother in New Orleans, I believe sometime in the 60's. Due to an unfortunate series of events, Ignatius has to get a job to help his mother pay off damage she had caused in an auto accident. The working life doesn't really suit Ignatius, and the book is about his ordeals as a "Working Boy," while he's conspiring to find a way to one-up his one-time "girlfriend," Myrna Minkoff.

I know I'm not really giving it the best endorsement, but I would recommend it to anyone who was looking for a humorous book. It seems many people have really, really enjoyed it, it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1981. So give it a shot.

Next on my reading list is David Eggers' You Shall Know Our Velocity! I'm a fan of his, after reading A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and McSweeny's and The Believer on occasion, so I was excited to find this book at the closing Atlantic Books store with a 40% off sale. I just started this book today, and I'm already 115 pages deep. It's a fairly quick read, about a pair of friends who are attempting to travel around the world in a week, while giving away over $30,000. The main character, Will, came inot this money rather unexpectedly, and is uncomfortable having it in his account. So far the book has very funny moments, juxtaposed (you like that word? I do!) with tragedy from Will's recent past. This is one author I would recommend to everyone, Eggers has a unique approach to writing and uses some effective techniques to grab the reader's attention and keep it for the duration of the book. (In A Staggering Work. . ., a mostly autobiographical book, there's a good chunk in the middle where Eggers has a conversation with his 5 year-old self, except his 5 year-old self has the vocabulary of his current self.)

Since the meal review post yesterday went over alright, I'll continue doing it, but only when there's something interesting to write. As Jad had commented, my meal last night was vegan, but it mostly just happened that way. Sorry Jad, I like to eat meat. But, I live with two vegetarians (almost vegans, but they'll occasionally eat dairy products and eggs), so I am sympathetic towards the lifestyle. I just like hamburgers and hot dogs way too much. However, today I ate no meat, my lunch was an Indian buffet with Daren, and my dinner some of my left over hummus on toast. Now I'm thinking about making some popcorn and watching the latest episode of "Heroes." That show's been kind of a guilty pleasure of mine. I don't really know if I should feel guilty about liking it or not, but it makes me feel like a kid again, watching stories about superheroes and whatnot. Anyways, I think they're in the middle of another 5-week hiatus, and I've been waiting to watch this episode for a little while.

One last quick thing; I wanted to put an update about the Iowa basketball coach search. Bruce Pearl is out, as is Billy Gillispie, and I've heard absolutely nothing about Tony Bennett coming here. So for me, right now, it's a toss-up between Chris Lowery and Reggie Theus as my number one choice. Both can get a large raise by coming to Iowa, and both would be welcome. I've also heard a rumor about Rick Majerus coaching with BJ Armstrong as an assistant, but that seems a little far-fetched to me (alhtough I'd be all for that). Dana Altman's always in the conversation, but it seems like he doesn't want to put up with the "search committee" that Barta has assembled, and has stated that he's at home in Omaha, coaching Creighton. I wouldn't count him out, though, I think he's definitely in the running. I don't know if Gary Barta is going to announce anything tomorrow, like I had originally predicted, but he better do something soon if he wants to get/keep recruits. He's supposedly meeting with Altman this weekend in Atlanta during the Final Four weekend, maybe he's waiting to make an announcement on Monday, before the championship game.

Also, congratulations to West Virginia for winning the NIT. I had predicted them to make it into the NCAA tournament (Jim will vouch for me on this one), maybe this shows they should have been selected. . . And congrats to Coach John Beilien, you'll be getting a nice pay raise, and maybe a new office in the Midwest. Michigan's gotta be salivating over this win.


H said...

I think that was about how long it took me to get into A Confederacy... also. I enjoyed it, but I was never really INTO it, and it makes me wonder why I gave it to you to read in the first place. =)

I'll definitely have to check out the David Eggers book though...I have been bad about reading this week since the new Vogue came and I am still only about two-thirds of the way through The Autograph Man. I will finish it and move on, someday, I hope.

Housewives? said...

I think I know how you feel about Confederacy of Dunces. I read it last summer and it was ok but I never got what the big deal was supposed to be. Can’t wait to read Velocity! I’ve been meaning to for awhile it but it’s always checked out at my library.