Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, last word

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh features many examples of that classic coming-of-age novel character: the wild, unpredictable friend. I have always enjoyed this sort of person, at least for a period of time, and also enjoy a related character (in life and in fiction), the life-of-the-party charismatic friend. People who do things I wouldn't make life exciting.

Michael Chabon was interviewed on Fresh Air today. He was not talking about Mysteries of Pittsburgh when he said this, but it applies to the central relationships in both it and Wonder Boys:

"I guess I'm a more orderly person -- and, therefore, chaos has its appeal."

Me too, Mr. Chabon. Me too.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sometime this past summer, I stopped trying to make myself read the books that are lying around my house, and allowed myself to just read whatever I felt like. I also now have permission to put things down if I don't like them. And so I read about 1/4 of Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, raced through Running With Scissors in less than a week despite the Cornell West tome and last 1/3 of The Shock Doctrine lying around my house, and caught up on just about everything Laurie Notaro has ever written. Reading is entertainment. Reading is an alternative to Netflix. And there is more than one kind of good book.

After The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, I zipped through Wonder Boys as well -- it goes quickly, probably because most of the book takes place over the span of a couple of days. I'm going to read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay next -- it's twice as long and probably more complicated, so I wanted to save it until the weather went bad. Before I know it, darkness will fall before cocktail hour and it will be time for 700-page books.

I also want to read Dreams From My Father, and, I think, Dry, by Augusten Burroughs.