Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Chosen by Chaim Potok


So my son thinks I don't understand him. He comes over the other day and he says he wants to talk. I can see where this is going a mile away, and I am in no mood. I do my best to refrain from interrupting as he is talking about his relationships with his students, his book, yadda yadda. He tells me that he just came from giving a lecture, and at that point I can't resist so I tell him that surely he didn't because he has a big hole in his shirt. I assume that is part of the mad genius professor look he is trying to cultivate, and I kindly refrain from giving advice about why people who are going bald shouldn't have long hair. My kindness is overlooked as usual, however, and he starts to rant, yelling "This is what I'm talking about!" and other pointless criticisms. Eventually, he leaves me a pile of books and walks out in a huff, so I win! And he thinks I don't understand him, but he's got it all wrong. I knew he was going in for the mushy father/son bullshit, and I knew what exactly what he was going to say, and I didn't want any part of it, and I knew just how to make him stop. So how's that for understanding? I mean, in this book, the father didn't talk to his kid for like 10 years! So I think I'm not so bad after all.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari


Sweet baby jesus. You people are idiots. My grandson Jackson told me to read this book, and I did it because despite his long hair, his poor manners, and his questionable life goals, I still find it difficult to say no to him. He told me later that he wanted me to read it in case I wanted to, I shit you not, "get back in the game." I will tell you that I am one of those people lucky enough to have had a true love in this life, and I believe that one is all that someone is entitled to. I'm sure there are flocks of women lining up for elderly widowers with with good life insurance, but they will have to knock down another door I suppose. And if I had any notions of doing such a thing at my age, this book is certainly enough to put an end to that. It is mindboggling to try to comprehend how people get to know each other these days. When I went on my first date, it was with Joan, the seamstress's daughter, and we each brought a friend to make sure everything was above board. I had her mother's permission, and the rules were clear. We went to the fair, and even thought it didn't really work out, we all came home with our dignity intact. From what I can tell from this book, if your dignity is intact by the time you start your first actual date, you have done something wrong. And I'm not sure exactly what swiping left and swiping right are, but they sound like deviant sexual practices to me. No thank you.

Monday, October 15, 2018

The North Water by Ian Maguire


Now this is some dark, dark shit, and it is beautiful. Let me share with you my favorite sentence from this novel. I quote, "The cabin air is dense with the velvet reek of liquid feces." Does it get more real than that? I think not. This book is a great reminder of how weak and soft we all are. Every generation thinks they have it rough, and sometimes we need to look back in time a little to recognize the luxury we are steeped in these days. I admit that I never had to seek refuge from an arctic storm in the hollowed out carcass of a polar bear that I killed with my bare hands, but still, young people these days seem not to understand what hardship is. They just go about their days clicking away their problems and medicating their negative emotions until they become robo-zombies ready to meet all of their productivity goals. And I suppose the next generation will look back aghast to learn that not ALL lattes had pumpkin spice in them. But it's good to peel back the curtain a little to see what is behind all those clicks. Every diamond, leather shoe, whale bone jewelry, chicken wing, or anything else you consume has blood and death behind it, and maybe you should think about that next time you put it on or eat it or put it in your pipe and smoke it. And if you forget, you can re-read this book. Or maybe even just that sentence.

Friday, October 5, 2018

American Pastoral by Philip Roth


This is a book about change, which I have noted before is a bunch of crap. But I appreciate how Roth notes an essential truth in life, which is that people are who they are, and you can't change them. I tried to explain this to my daughter at the coffee shop, but as usual, she sabotaged the whole thing. She offered to get my coffee for me, on account of my knee and all, and when she came back, she brought me - I shit you not - a pumpkin spice latte. I mean, what the fuck? I explained to her with extreme politeness that the drink was an abomination and that she knew what I liked and had taken advantage of my temporary disability to fuck with me. She gave me some bullshit about the seasons and changing with the times or whatnot. Which I thought was a great segue to talk about the book, because trying to change people is what led to everyone in the book being eternally screwed. She had a different interpretation. I did not drink the coffee.