Wednesday, August 29, 2018

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Piccoult

I would literally trade this book for a pickle. A good kosher dill pickle, of course, not one of those underbrined cucumbers in disguise, or worse yet, a sweet pickle. There's nothing worse than thinking you are getting a real pickle, only to bite into a sweet pickle (abomination). But that's kind of what this book was like - it looked great at first, interesting plot, complicated moral issues, lots to think about. But then, in another one of the worst plot twists of all time (I'm kind of on a roll with these, thanks to my daughter), everything interesting and complicated gets wrapped up in a neat little package that pretty much made we want to stick a fork in my eye. But I suppose that's life. It starts out nice, full of promise, plenty of possibilities, but when you get to the end of it, it's pretty much a shitshow. Sometimes literally. After my wife died, I promised myself I would not let that happen to me. Not the dying, mind you, but the manner. But just try to bring something like that up with my children, or any other member of the able generation. They practically checked me into a psych ward just for talking about what a dignified death might look like. I will tell you what it does not look like- sitting around in a hospital room getting spoon-fed pudding and having to read crap books like this. Thanks for nothing, Jodi.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

If you are reading pop fiction, and if there is an old white guy in the book, he is gonna be racist. What the hell, people? Do you not see the irony of so predictably assigning that characteristic to a certain type of person? Jesus. Remember the 60s? That was us! We were trying to help the Civil Rights Movement long before you were even born to fulfill your post-racial destiny doing the Whip Nae Nae. The problem here is really more about words. I admit that we don't always keep up with the changing vocabulary around race and sexuality and things like that. But just because I don't know the word cisgender (thank you Jackson) does not mean that I am a bigot. You know who you should be worried about? Young racists! These fuckers are dangerous, and they know how to use social media. And they get to vote like 40 more times. So why don't you leave us alone for once and go after a real problem. They're not hard to find these days - it's like a coming out party for racists in this country. Anyway - Harris Taft, the racist in this book, is a rich, scabby jerk, and the book seems great as his whole rich family is going to get their comeuppance from the younger, smarter generation (they all think they are, don't they?). But then, in one of the worst plot twists of all time, it turns out, and this is what my grandson told me is called a spoiler alert, they are all dead! The whole time! And it's not like The Sixth Sense, when all of sudden everything makes sense. It's more like all of a sudden, you throw the book across the room and make a gimlet. Screw it.

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

What the hell has happened to baseball? When I was a kid, it truly was America's pastime. Reading this book reminded me of the enthusiasm I used to have for the game. My family would go together to the ballpark, eat hot dogs and peanuts, and watch the greats do their thing. Back then, athletes were famous for their accomplishments, not their racist tweets. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. At this point, they have sapped just about all the joy from the experience. First of all, you have to go to Super Bank Field presented by Screw You Insurance to see the game, just as a reminder that the whole thing is just a corporate enterprise, further reinforced by the price of a damn ticket these days! Who can even afford to go to these games? Even if your son-in-law happens to get tickets from a client, you're still screwed. They might as well just take your wallet as you walk through the excessive security turnstiles. It would be more efficient than bilking you 9 bucks at a time if you want a hot dog or a beer to help pass the time. Because passing the time is really what it is. The glory of the game is gone. Pitchers used to pitch a game, and their endurance and strength was something to admire. Now if they walk a batter or scratch their elbow funny, 8 guys run out to the mound to make sure he's ok and then they bring someone else on. I saw - I shit you not - four pitchers in a single inning last week! These are professional athletes, right? Jesus. This is also why the games take 5 hours to get through. This used to be a family event, and now you can almost guarantee that by the 8th inning, any child sitting near you is likely to be having a meltdown. Time to cough up 9 more bucks to stick a hot dog in that kid, buddy. At least keep him quiet enough for me to think clearly about how terrible this is.

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Paperboy by Pete Dexter

You know, I had a paper route when I was a kid. Saturdays and Sundays. Me and the other boys would meet down on 4th Street to pick up our papers, and I could do my route in about 2 hours. And it wasn't any of that Newsies dancing and singing Seize the Day crap either - just the few kids in the neighborhood who knew anything about some honest work making a little spending money. One satchel over each shoulder - we looked like a bunch of camels marching sweating through the desert. But we learned something about life, which is more than I can say for my grandson and all his Fortnite addict friends. And what happens when they want to buy something? My daughter and her gaggle of soccer moms just give it to them! Like they earned it by throwing the remote control near the couch instead of leaving on the floor. Congratulations on your responsibility! Jesus. Nowadays, my paper guy drives by at about 30 miles an hour in something that looks and sounds like a 1984 El Camino and just chucks my paper out his window without slowing down. I shit you not. Except if it's raining or snowing - then he gets out and puts in on my doorstep. Nope - just fucking with you. He does no such thing, and half the time my paper is soaking wet. And he gets paid for this! And then he wants a tip at Christmas on top of it! Good luck, buddy. Maybe I'll leave a tip on my doorstep and if he comes to drop off a paper, he can pick it up. Anyway, this book was good.