Monday, October 25, 2010

I haven't been blogging, but I have been reading.

I suspect many of you have been anxiously wondering why I haven't updated the blog in a while. I mean, with everything going on in the world and your life, no doubt one of the priorities in your thinking has been, That guy that blogs excessively about spy novels and sports stories, what is he up to? I must know!!

A bulleted list, if you don't mind, of a few things in my stew.

-As titled, I haven't been blogging but I have certainly been reading at my usual voracious clip and in the usual genres, spy novels, adventure tales, history and sports.

-Robert Littel, the spy novelist. I'm not sold on him after Legends but I will give him another try with The Company or other work. One annoyance: why does the protagonist of Legends get recognized at every airport he goes to? Intrigued by this writer, though, great plotter, interesting characters, terrific realism; I'm not liking him as much as, say, Charles McCarrey, though.

-Steven Pressfield, Gates of Fire, which certainly would be a no brainer for a reader like me in that this historic fiction about the battle of Thermopylae is on a list of required reading for the Marines and other branches of the military, thrilled me in some ways but seemed long winded to me in others. Maybe coulda been tighter for me personally, but otherwise a very good read, very good.

-John Irving. Sadly, I put down A Prayer for Owen Meany after a hundred some pages because I just couldn't get into it, couldn't get into the characters, couldn't muster the enthusiasm for the story. This is surprising to me for a number of reasons. One, I read The World According to Garp at least twice, loved it. Also The Hotel New Hampshire. So why couldn't I get into Meany? Is it Irving's changing style in this one of his later works or is it me, as a reader? I suspect the former. Two, I was surprised at this because Meany frequently makes people's short lists of Irving's great works.

-Bo, autobio of U of M football coach Bo Schembechler co written with Mitch Albom. Great read - I'm not normally an Albom fan - and an excellent companion to another great read, John U. Bacon's co-written, with Bo, sports/business book, Bo's Lasting Lessons. Everything you want in a sports book. But, you know, as I read it's a reminder about why sports is such a great creator of literature and content. Longer post on this later but sports as a lifestyle, a past time and as literature provides a ready made context for the conflicts that drive men; men in short love to compete and sports gives them a context that's safer to do it than war. The language used by men like Bo and OSU coach Woody Hayes, on display in this book, is couched in terms of warfare, but the critical difference, obviously, is that in football when you "kill 'em," they get back up and do it again. It's safe. I'm not knocking this - I'm a fan, too - I'm just pointing it out, probably redundantly for most of you.

More to come, got to get back into the habit of regularly blogging for all seven of my loyal readers.

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