I’d read a few gushing blurbs about The Passage, Justin Cronin’s long novel (the first in a trilogy, apparently), when it came out last year, but I wasn’t particulary excited about reading “The Stand meets The Road plus vampires.”
But, there it was in the new paperback section of the bookstore last weekend, so I picked it up. I’m glad I did. It really is a great literary summer read: great writing, propulsive plot, lots of thrilling moments. Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down, and I’m very much looking forward to the next book. Lots of hair-raising moments like this one:
Wolgast could stand it no more. “What’s over?”Lear lifted his face; his eyes were full of tears.“Everything.”
If you’re looking for something both well written and exciting to read this summer, check it out.
Another monster book from McSweeney’s. This time around it’s a wide ranging historical montage of America around the turn of the last century when we were fighting wars in Cuba and the Philippines, and reconstruction was giving way to Jim Crow in the South.
The book has several main characters and dozens of minor ones, all struggling to make it in a society that is very much against them getting ahead. Several are forced into joining the Army to fight first the Spanish and then the native population in the Philippines, others work back-breaking jobs and rarely come out ahead.
It’s a great portrayal of racism, classism, and imperialism in America, and it’s sad to realize that more than one hundred years on from the story, we’re still struggling with the same issues.
I enjoy historical fiction, so I really liked the book. It’s also gorgeous, with a rich gold-leaf embossed cover and sewn binding. If you’re thinking of reading it, I’d get the hardcover. It’s heavy (and expensive), but instead of a mass market “hardcover,” you’re getting a real book the way they used to be made.
Andrea and I went to see the Alaska Goldpanners again last night. As we were leaving the house, it started to lightly drizzle, and after the first inning of play, it started raining at the ballpark. We didn’t wind up staying for the whole game (the Goldpanners won 8—3): we left after our pitcher threw two wild pitches over the catcher to score two Anchorage Bucs runs because he couldn’t get a good grip on the wet ball.
For more than an inning, there was a spectacular triple rainbow. One of the great things about baseball: you never know what you're going to see, on and off the field!
If you’re in Fairbanks this summer, you owe it to yourself to come out to the ballpark at least once. It’s a cheap evening, is often a more interesting game than the brand of baseball you see in the Major Leagues, it’s great to be outside watching the next generation of baseball players, and the Goldpanners could really use the support. They had to drop out of the Alaska Baseball League this summer, and are playing an abbreviated season, but hopefully if they get enough fan support, they’ll play a full season next year. The link in the first paragraph takes you to the schedule.
I hope to see you at the ballpark!
I was disappointed to hear that the government (and 60 Minutes) is now going after bicycling legend Lance Armstrong. Just like with Barry Bonds, confidential grand jury testimony is somehow available to the media, and our tax dollars are being wasted pursing former top athletes instead of actually trying to solve the problems facing our society.
Like cancer. Lance Armstrong is a cancer survivor, and through his LiveStrong foundation he’s raised over $400 million dollars for medical research to fight the disease. What’s the gain in taking him down now?
When asked how his belief in God helped him beat cancer, he replied:
Everyone should believe in something, and I believe in surgery, chemotherapy, and my doctors.
Yep. Science. Among other things, we use it to improve vision, repair broken bones, cure diseases, manufacture high tech bicycles, rebuild arms and legs, and, yes, improve our body’s ability to perform. I suppose the line between allowed (alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, Lasix eye surgery, artificial nutritional supplements, Tommy John surgery) and forbidden (marijuana, amphetamines, steroids, artificial limbs, blood doping) has to be drawn somewhere, but it all feels pretty arbitrary. And rarely does it seem like bringing down our heros (McGwire, Bonds, Sosa, Pettitte, Clemens, and now Armstrong) is doing any of us any good for all the expense it costs us.
Note: Andy Pettitte was never one of my heroes, but he was the winningest pitcher of the 2000s, and, apparently, a steroid user.