Archive for March, 2009

The Book of Dahlia

March 27th, 2009

Another chore of a book. Not really because it wasn’t a good book. It was a fine book. Although writing about it is seemingly as unpleasant as reading it. At times. Like now.

It’s one of those books that made me think, hurry up and be over already! Kind of like this blog post.

No idea what to pick for book #12, but I’m a couple weeks behind so I’d better get started.

Book of Dahlia, Elisa Albert

The Midnight Disease

March 24th, 2009

The Midnight Disease is actually the title of a book in my Amazon Wishlist.

From The Book of Dahlia:

She and Mara drove all over L.A. late at night. “Night Disease,” they called this: the mysterious condition wherein you just couldn’t bring yourself to go to bed. I refuse to let this day be over, they’d say. No fucking way is this the end of the day already.

Night Disease: the imperative that they just keep going. Now Dahlia understood it perfectly. It was because the day needed something more. Whatever the day had contained somehow wasn’t enough. They weren’t ready to let go of it. Something more had to happen. Something else needed to occur. The day could not be over. They would not submit. Not until they were ready.

It’s almost 3am and I’m waiting, too.

Elisa Albert, The Book of Dahlia

Book of Dahlia Dust Jacket Discovery

March 17th, 2009

A note about The Book of Dahlia. The dust jacket covers the more beautiful part of the physical book. (For a change)

Book of Dahlia, Elisa Albert

Fiction Fiction Female Fiction. And My New Bookcases

March 16th, 2009

Quick read indeed. And also the book that I have gotten the most from. Despite this, I’m still a poor writer who struggles through virtually every sentence I write. And I still use redundant words like “virtually”.

So The Elements of Writing is excellent and I’m glad I’m through with it. On to the next book; a novel for a change. After reading The Elements of Style I feel better able to follow (and critique) an author’s story (and writing) much better than before.

I’ve read two novels so far this year, The Alchemist and The Book Thief, both of which I enjoyed. Next on the list is The Book of Dahlia which is unique because I rarely read books by female authors. I’m sure it’s coincidence, but that’s the way it is. Most of the books I read that are authored by females tend to be memoirs.

Also noteworthy in the life of resolution52 is my office, with a set of bookcases that I can look dreamily and proudly at. I’m still finding little trinkets in these books (the books having been buried under who-knows-what for a very long time), such as a plane ticket to San Francisco in one of my David Sedaris memoirs. I remember this trip with my father, who at the time was reading Stephen King’s The Stand. During this trip my father wrote in his journal every day, something that I picked up for a brief time. I have no recollection of why we were there. Despite this, it’s always fun to find things in books that bring back memories, as I mentioned in my previous post.

The picture above is of my new bookcases (a humble beginning). Pictures are always better to start a blog post with.

Book Thoughts, Elisa Albert, The Book of Dahlia

The Kindle and Why I’ll Stick To Bound Paper

March 12th, 2009

I recently ordered a Kindle, cancelled it, and ordered it again. When it arrived I was excited. I was excited about a couple different things. First, the ability to read faster. I knew that without the page turning, and with my love for gadgets I would read more, at every opportunity (not that I need more incentive, reading is incentive enough). Second, I could store all my books in one location instead of piles strewn across rooms.

Through the Kindle I quickly purchased On Writing, then I purchased Josh Hamilton’s biography, Beyond Faith. And that is when it hit me, when I noticed a change. What hit me was that reading using the Kindle had changed the concept of reading despite me not using it to read yet. I was simply purchasing literature and already the experience was less fun, less involved, and less personal. You see, I didn’t own anything. There was no paper, no receipt, no heft. There were no pages to hold receipts, mementos. There were no margins in which to write notes. But what there was plenty of, was empty shelves at home that would never be filled with books with words printed on paper.

I eventually read a few pages of the books I had purchased through the Kindle, then turned it off, re-packaged it, and requested a refund. After that, I repurchased the books, and they are sitting on my nightstand right next to me, right this very minute. I don’t need to turn anything on to see the contents, I can loan them to my friends, and I can write potential tweets in the margins to check back with later on.

The Kindle has it’s place. But for me that place certainly shouldn’t cost $359. I would love a place to store all my PDFs, and I’ll give you $75, but I’d still hesitate.

All my books have a story. Not just the story by the author, but a story that corresponds to the experience of reading the book. I can think of a few examples right now, with some illustrations.

1. On The RoadJack Kerouac

So I’ve read this book a zillion times. I once had this book with me when I was walking with a friend through North Beach in San Francisco, behind the famed City Lights Bookstore when we came across a poem written on an alley wall. It goes like this (and I’ve written of this before):

i wonder how this city will look one thousand years from now,
burning bright from the ashes of our great passions;
will it’s people wear our faces?
will it’s drama’s cross worlds of travelled space?
will it’s magic enchant like the whispering beauty of here?
will it’s dreams grow from the spirited creations of now?

All I had was my copy of On The Road, and a pen, and that was all I needed.

The book itself is a joy to read, and for years I would practice memorizing this little gem of a sentence that to me summed the book up quite nicely:

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes Awww!

2. Catcher In The RyeJD Salinger

Another repeat book for me. According to the image of the receipt below, it was purchased on April 22, 1997. Most books that I own still have the original receipt. It’s one of my quirks and it comes in handy when a memory needs extra help to be recalled.

Another memory is attached to On The Road, quite literally. I had a Beagle, Desmond. He was named after the Jazz saxophonist in the Dave Brubeck quartet. So the fact that he “cut his teeth” on the best of the beats was no surprise, and didn’t anger me in the least.

I bought On The Road and Catcher In The Rye on that same trip to Barnes & Noble and just before a group of us boys went on a road trip to Mexico. I read both books during the trip, and made chapter notes at the beginning of each Catcher In The Rye chapter.

On one of the internal pages are some phone numbers and a quote that belongs to me saying:

These people don’t know me.

We were eating at a Denny’s-type establishment and I was looking around at all these interesting people and realized, maybe because of the alcohol in me, that there wasn’t anybody in this restaurant, in this city, maybe in this state, that knew me. And it struck me. And I felt small. But at the same time I also felt like a vein of gold in an undiscovered mountain and when saying “These people don’t know me”, it was more out of sadness that they would never get to know Brian Utley. I wasn’t a cocky kid, but Kerouac and Salinger put me that place, and I wrote it in the book. I remember it clear as day, almost 12 years later.

3. The Sun Also RisesErnest Hemingway

I spilled so much pico de gallo on this book. There was this little peruvian restaurant in Provo, Utah that I would eat at on a fairly regular basis. A carne asada burrito with a sangria and Ernest Hemingway. Our own little party. The book has stains throughout.

4. ImmortalityMilan Kundera

Even to this day I have no idea what this book was about. And I’ve felt a little embarrassed by that until this week when Stephen King says something similar about reading passages that he doesn’t understand, shrugging it off, and remarking that some lyrics to his favorite songs he doesn’t understand either.

The history behind Immortality was that this was the book I was reading when I met Shannon Flores, my now ex-wife. The book still holds our wedding picture.

The receipt is still in this one as well, and I just realized it was bought on 6/6/1997. A significant date.

I could literally go on and on, I have a stack of books next to me that I chose at random just to see what I could find. Like the wedding picture, I had no idea it was there, and Senja certainly didn’t either. But there you go, the historical importance of books and the trinkets alongside them. Some quick associations:

Shampoo PlanetDouglas Coupland : Melanie from B&N talking about “giving him the time”, or some foolishness.

Einsteins DreamsAlan Lightman : A book I literally couldn’t put down for hours and have read at least a dozen times.

The Perks of Being A Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky : A book written when it was probably much easier to get published. I was coming out of the beats and this contemporary first novel was the perfect segway back into my own generation.

The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald : Reading this book in our basement apartment, with leaves blowing down the stairs and into our house. I read over 70 pgs that afternoon, with my feet propped up on the kitchen counter.

What would I have to share if I started reading from the Kindle 15 years ago? I’m not sure. But I have a treasure trove of books downstairs, with all sorts of memorabilia from my past. A Kindle wouldn’t give me that.

Also, you know that moment in a book when the characters have been introduced, the story is taking flight, you’ve just finished page 82 and for the first time you bend that spine and crease that book right down the side? I love that. Try doing that on a Kindle.

A good friend eventually purchased my Kindle from me, saving me having to go through the Amazon return process. At some point I’ll revisit the device, but my love of books AND love of reading will most likely keep my reading habits in the new old-school.

Book Thoughts, kindle

And Next Up…Book #10 For Week #11

March 11th, 2009

I finished the Stephen King memoir tonight and gave it the highest rating yet. King mentions the book The Elements of Style frequently and it got me thinking about my own writing. So I bought the book and it arrived today. I also purchased Click by Bill Tancer, and The Book of Dahlia by Elisa Albert. You can see a complete list of books that I’ve read and will be reading by checking out my Goodreads account.

I have all sorts of things that I would like to write about, but I’m just waiting for that spark to come. Once I have my office up and organized maybe it will come more freely. All I really need is a desk. I haven’t had one since 2003. Not since the day before the bombs dropped on Baghdad. Don’t read too much into that, merely a coincidence.

I think I’m a week behind but I’m not at all worried about the resolution. Considering how this year has gone so far, I’m optimistic about what I’ve accomplished so far. Plus, little nuggets like The Elements of Style will help my progress.

Bill Tancer, Book of Dahlia, Click, Elements of style, Elisa Albert, On Writing, Stephen King, William Strunk


March 7th, 2009

Stephen King says he’s a slow reader, being able to read only about 70-80 books a year.

I have no idea what to say about that.

But how about this little tidbit:

Where else can you read? There’s always the treadmill, or whatever you use down at the local health club to get aerobic. I try to spend an hour doing that every day, and I think I’d go mad without a good novel to keep me company. Most exercise facilities (at home as well as outside it) are now equipped with TVs, but TV – while working out or anywhere else – really is about the last thing an aspiring writer needs. If you feel you must have the news analyst blowhards on CNN while you exercise, or the stock market blowhards on MSNBC, or the sports blowhards on ESPN, it’s time for you to question how serious you really are about becoming a writer. You must be prepared to do some serious turning inward toward the life of the imagination, and that means, I’m afraid, that Geraldo, Keith Olbermann, and Jay Leno must go. Reading takes time, and the glass teat takes too much of it.

Amen Stephen.

On Writing, Stephen King

Sleep Apnea + Stephen King = This

March 7th, 2009

It’s 4:40 AM and I’ve been awake for 3 hours. I’ve been desperate for sleep and I still find myself waking at oddball hours with words and thoughts racing through my head. Today is a perfect example.

I worked normal hours, got a haircut, dinner, and then spent an hour or so with my parents. We watched TV, sat in the hot tub, and eventually I bid them a goodnight. It was probably 9:00 PM. I read my Stephen King memoir for a few minutes before becoming suddenly, and unavoidably, exhausted. I’m asleep within seconds; lights on, book in hand, no blankets or sheets. Just…completely…out.

Now, historically I’m a terrible sleeper. It normally takes melatonin, GABA, valerian root…I could go on because, really, I’ve tried everything to help me sleep. Not only is it impossible for me to sleep without help, but once I’m asleep the slightest sound or movement wakes me. Also, I have sleep apnea. Major sleep apnea. And I refuse to wear a face mask contraption thing because, quite simply, it’s impossible to sleep with that thing on my face. I won’t even get into the sex appeal aspect of wearing a fighter jet’s oxygen mask at night. It’s not Iron Eagle sexy. It’s nowhere near Top Gun sexy. It’s closer to Bubble Boy sexy. Which is to say, of course, not at all. I digress.

I awoke shortly after midnight with my book on my nightstand, lights off, and several warm blankets on top of me. You may be thinking, a Mom is always a Mom, but no, sometimes Dad is Mom, and even though I have nothing to backup my theory, I know it was him who checked in on his 34 year-old son, who is estranged from his wife and kids, and had words of encouragement ready for me before finding me asleep, and tucked me in. And I don’t feel embarrassed, or as if I’ve regressed. I’m thankful for their strength and willingness to step in and let me know they are ready to catch me, if needed, from this free-fall.

And Stephen King is talking about process and method and the familiar spark hits and ignites the writer in me.

My room is cold. I move upstairs and it’s dark. And even though the book I’m reading is a memoir, it’s still Stephen King. And part of me thinks about Carrie, about Cujo, and about Jack Torrance. And because of that, my surroundings are transformed into what he would create, and I’m nervous. I stretch out my arms to feel for a wall or a light-switch and I think about the possibility of touching something else and examining this object a split second too long, as I realize too late, that it’s the arm, hand, and blade that brings about my violent demise. And all this despite the fact that I don’t read horror.

But this is how my early morning goes. There is no blade, no midnight intruder, and I grab a bowl of chips and some milk and return to my reading. But not before I publish this.

Happy Saturday.

Book Thoughts, On Writing, Stephen King

Resolution At A Glance (On Track)

March 7th, 2009
Error connecting to mysql