Monday, December 19, 2005

Consider the Lobster

I spent some time at the library this weekend and managed to score a few decent things off of the discard shelf; Pascal's Pensees in paperback with an introduction by T.S. Eliot, the last book in John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee series, The Lonely Silver Rain (one of my favorite anti-hero mystery/detective characters delivered in compelling prose) and the first two of at least five books in Douglas Adams Hitchhiker trilogy, which I have been meaning to reread.

Also checked out David Foster Wallace's Consider the Lobster, a collection of essays previously published. (The title an homage to M.F.K. Fisher's Consider the Oyster, a classic included in her recently reprinted collection The Art of Eating, worth a spot on the shelf of everyone's library.)
Wallace's book includes the wonderful review/article on English usage from Atlantic Monthly which was responsible for at least two people I know purchasing the book discussed, Modern American Usage by Bryan A. Garner. (I might even own two copies of this, one stashed in an attic and one in the living room). The title piece discusses his attending the Maine Lobster Festival and attempting to answer the question "Is it all right to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure?" My answer, Yes, (although steaming them is better) and it is probably better to kill them quickly with a knife though the spinal cord right before tossing them in the pot as demonstrated by Jacques Pepin on his PBS cooking which I also managed to catch this weekend. Didn't come up with any lobsters though. David Foster Wallace's path to his answer is worth reading no matter how you come down on the question.

Best of lists are all over the place. Let the arguments begin. I enjoyed seeing what Ebert picked as his Top 10 for year in movies, especially as having seen none of them (yet). Music lists abound too. Pitchfork has its top 50 singles today with the album list coming tomorrow. PopMatters has its top 50 albums today. I like that they break it down into Top 10 lists for some genres (Metal, Jazz , Country). NPR's list is more convenient if you have the bandwidth to listen to the samples selected. The best of 2005 show is here.

These year in review lists largely show how far out of touch I am (or how much farther I would be if KUNI and NPR were not available). I think they demonstrate how much good music is out there and how hard it is to keep up with it. I also listened to All Songs Considered Holiday Music show with songs by Marah, Rev. Horton Heat, Ricky Skaggs and more. The last five holiday shows are archived as well. Fun stuff.


scruffylooking said...

I was at the library on Sunday right before they closed. I know I was way over ambitious because I doubt I'll have time to read it, but I checked out The Crazed by Ha Jin. have you ever read him? I've read some short stories and this summer I read, Waiting. If you have, tell me what you think. I've really like what I've read.

Also, thanks for the movie link. It's given me some new items for my Netflix queue.

Dexter said...

You're welcome. I have read somey of his stories in New Yorker and have a collection at home but not sure which one it is. Stong short story writer up there with George Saunders and Huraki Murakami and Alice Munro currently.

Old interview with Ha Jin here at Powells i remember reading a while back.

Red State Librarian said...

I can recommend his extraordinary novel, War Trash. It's a fictional memoir of a Chinese soldier and his hellish experiences in the American P.O.W. camps during the Korean War.

vardaman said...

my mother's a lobster

scruffylooking said...

War Trash, eh? I got it. I'm hoping to have some time to read over Christmas. Thanks for the suggestion.

Dexter said...

The collection of Ha Jin short stories I have is The Bridgegroom if you are interested.

Dexter said...

$$#!@#(* spelling.

The Bridegroom... Bridgegroom is a different collection entirely.e