Thursday, December 06, 2007

No wonder people don't read any more...

Have you seen the New York Times list of the 100 notable books of 2007? No? Here's my advice....if you like interesting books, an old-fashioned "thumping good read", and an enjoyable way to spend a rainy evening....don't read this list!

I swear the descriptions of the plots in these books reads like some parody of modern literature. Who would want to read this stuff? Here are a few samples:

- "A tale of two sisters, one awake all night, one asleep for months." Gosh, bet that's a page-turner.
- "A first novel about an Ethiopian exile in Washington, D.C., evokes loss, hope, memory and the solace of friendship." I'm a sucker for any book that evokes loss. Especially when it also evokes the solace of friendship!
- "A young woman searches for the truth about her parentage amid the snow and ice of Lapland in this bleakly comic yet sad tale of a child’s futile struggle to be loved." Oh God, not another "growing up lonely in Lapland" book. Haven't we had enough?
- "A Russian World War II veteran posthumously acquaints his stepdaughter with his grim past of rape and violence." Prozac not included.
- "The small-town regulars at Lucy’s Tavern carry their loneliness in “rough and beautiful” ways." Silly me, I carry my loneliness in a lovely quilted bag.
- "In this short yet spacious Norwegian novel, an Oslo professional hopes to cure his loneliness with a plunge into solitude." Hmmm....someone should introduce him to that lonely Lapp kid.

People, remember books that were fun to read? Full of interesting, lively characters doing fascinating things? Not "searching for the truth behind the brutal injustice of growing up left-handed in Zambia" fascinating but "hunting the bad guys, falling in love, searching for treasure, laughing with friends, living a real, normal life" fascinating.

I have absolutely NO desire to read any of these books. I long for the day when writers realize that "important" doesn't have to equal "dreary". It IS possible to write literate, poetic books with plots that make you want to stay up late -- rather than make you want to throw the book across the room.

Monday, December 03, 2007

I knew it!
For years I've said modern art looks like crap. Like paint thrown randomly on a canvas with no purpose other than to give art critics a chance to pretend they're esoteric geniuses by conning sheep into believing they too know art. And finally, I have proof.

A UK art critic, as a joke, wrote typically over-the-top reviews of a "modern artist" who is, in reality, the critic's 2-year old son. With lines such as "A bold use of colour. Inspired by the 'plein air' habit of painting by Monet, drawing on the natural world that surrounds us all," and "It seems that one stroke is being repeated - the same stroke or one very close to it, hence the possibility of the infinite opening up of the structure of time," writer Estelle Lovatt managed to fool people into thinking he was a real artist. Someone event bought one of his works (albeit for only 20 pounds -- but still...).

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Screw the experts...
Finally, some good news from my favorite African nation, Malawi.

According to the New York Times, Malawi has turned around its hunger status by ignoring the experts. By focusing on the importance of fertilizer they are now selling more corn to the World Food Program of the UN than any other country in southern Africa and exporting hundreds of thousands of tons of corn to Zimbabwe.

Both the US and Britian were skeptical about the need for fertilizer subsidies, a fact with which Malawi's new president, Bingu wa Mutharika disagreed. He saw the importance of regenerating his nation's soil -- crucial if they were ever going to make a true stand against hunger. And thanks to his forward-thinking, and his stand against the so-called experts, Malawi is succeeding.

Go Malawi!