Current Reading

Just finished two Chuck Palahniuk novels. Lullaby, published in 2002, and Pygmy, 2009. Lullaby was interesting, with the premise of a poem collected and found in a children’s book was actually a culling song, and the explanation for SIDS, if read. That part was interesting. Other parts, creepy.  And characteristically gross.

Pygmy, told from the perspective of a foreign exchange student/terrorist operative, used uniquely mangled English to tell the tale.  That, and the terrorist training always tinting the perspective, such as any slight or perceived slight the person is given a mental blow of death, a different one for each person. Pygmy manages to kill at least a half dozen people, mentally, within five minutes of landing on American soil. Striking Cobra Quick Kill, Punching Panda, Barracuda Deadly Eye Gouge among them. But in some ways, this actually is a more light hearted book, believe it or not. Especially by Chuck P. standards. Take this example of the language:

“Force compelled to sing how yearning for location on top arched spectrum of light wavelengths created by precipitate. Exact song expressed Judy Garland, woeful martyr, slaughtered pawn of capitalist entertainment machine combined pharmaceutical complex.”

Okay, I found it amusing, the description of the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and describing Judy Garland as a woeful martyr, and the fact that she was even part of his terrorist training! All that in one paragraph.

But, be forewarned. These are still Chuck P. novels, complete with physical descriptions of things you don’t really want to envision, told in such fine (and probably) accurate detail, it leaves the taste of bile in your mouth. Well, at least it does for me. Makes me uncomfortable. Even if I do find it disgusting at times, I can still say as a writer that Mr. P is a very imaginative and detailed author. That’s what makes the works so affecting. Infecting. Once the images are placed in your brain, they are rather difficult to replace, erase or bury. Impactful.

If you can stomach it, go for it. Seems like he usually has one especially descriptive scene early in his novels, and that seems to be the worst one, trying to weed his non-devoted readers out. You can always do like I do during zombie movies, since slow shuffling zombie attacks freak me out (I will be useless when the zombie apocalypse happens) – fast forward! Or in the case of a book, skimming. Skim through the gross parts so you know when to pick back up again. Sure you miss a few details, but that’s the point.

On much lighter fare, I recently went to find Nursery Rhymes for another student of mine, since we are working on syllables and rhyming, only to find children’s books found at Target were completely abridged! Frequently the poems I could remember only had the first verse and then went on to a new one. I couldn’t tell you what the other verses were, they are never as memorable as the first, but I knew there were more!

So off to the library I went, to go find me The Real Mother Goose. Same cover I remember from my childhood, so I knew it was the right one. Poems unabridged. Phew. I just want to give my students the complete experience, not half-assed. I know they won’t remember the full poems either, but at least they will know they had more than one stanza!

And when checking out the book selection at Costco the other day, I noticed the hardback edition of book three of the Inheritance series is out, Brisingr by Christopher Paolini. Sure, it covers familiar territory, as a combination of Anne McCaffrey and Tolkien most prominently, he creates a complete world involving dragons and dwarves and humans and their conflicts and their organizing good against evil, but I was blown away when reading the first book, since it was written by a teenager from Montana. Wrote the first draft when 15. How impressive is that? And a movie was made of it too, but I haven’t seen it yet. That was Eragon, sounding way too close to Aragorn in the Tolkien mythos, but ya know, there’s only so many sounds in the English language. It sounds like I’m dissing it, doesn’t it? I guess I am, a little, because it is such familiar territory, so I am looking forward to the third novel to see what is new in his world. And I am also completely in awe of his tenacity, courage, and dedication to write these hundreds of page tomes, and dream up his world. I respect and admire his efforts. He is 26 now, and working on the fourth book, according to his website. That is true dedication, and I am not dissing that. So I was happy to find a copy of that in the library too. Happy readings for me!

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