Monday, June 19, 2006


I just finished reading Everyman by Phillip Roth. It took me two days because I couldn't put it down.
All I could think of is, I want to write like Phillip Roth when I grow up. God, or whoever is in charge of these things, let me write such precise, incisive and graceful sentences one day.
The book is about death and decay. Lots of it. It is a short, keenly observed lament on the miseries of age, infirmity and the fear of death, and it is moving without being sentimental and very magnificently written. I'm still reeling trying to imagine in my head the structure of the book, because it flows as easily as water in a stream, yet it is not linear and far from simple.
I loved Everyman because it seems genuinely committed to its outrage. Also, because it makes a forceful statement about living without God and not doing too badly. The protagonist is simply a secular man who has chosen to be secular, and never for a moment does he wonder if he needs the company or assistance of God at the end of his life. This is a powerful antidote to the endlessly annoying God-fever that is racking this country. There is no implication that this man would be better off believing and for that, I'm forever grateful to Phillip Roth. Give him the Nobel prize already.

On the other hand, I don't know what possessed me to buy the latest book by Kazuo Ishiguro, a horrible, sloppy, disturbing, artless book about a future where human clones are made to donate their bodies to other humans. I hated that book so much that I gave it to the Salvation Army because I didn't want it in my house. I hated it so much I can't even remember the title.
The problem is that is is written in the voice of one of the clones and Ishiguro has chosen to make that person as interesting as a lamp, so the writing plods along painfully and there is nothing human or insightful to be learned.

I'm also reading Conversations with Billy Wilder by Cameron Crowe, who proves himself a charming and insightful interviewer of one of the greatest writer-directors that ever lived and a prickly, funny man. I'm still trying to recover from the shock of hearing Billy Wilder say that Forrest Gump was one of his favorite movies and that Tom Cruise is a great actor, but I ascribe it to the fact that he was 91 at the time and although he's feisty and witty as ever, he must have been losing it in that department.
The book is full of fun gossip and many fascinating observations about the nature of the filmmaking and screenwriting process. It is wonderful. And it has lots of pictures.

So as you can see, I have not been completely lobotomized by soccer yet.

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