The problem with Mario Vargas Llosa‘s Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter is that there are so many good characters that he uses for too short a time. Llosa’s novel is about a young writer (not yet published) who falls in love with his Aunt (not related by blood) and befriends the cranky scriptwriter. The book takes place in the sixties, when serial radio had reached its zenith in Peru. The narrator and would be writer has “a job with a pompous-sounding title, a modest salary, duties as a plagiarist, and flexible working hours: News Director of Radio Panamerica. It consisted of cutting out interesting news items that appeared in the daily papers and rewriting them slightly so that they could be read on the air during the newscasts.” (3) His Aunt Julia was recently divorced and moves to Peru to escape the stigma of being divorced. “Pedro Camacho. A Bolivian and an artist: a friend” is recently hired at the station and trusts only the lowly narrator as a confidant. (17) Continue reading
Thomas Pynchon‘s Inherent Vice is about a pothead private investigator asked by his ex-girlfriend to look into the disappearance of her new (married) boyfriend, who is a wealthy land developer. Set in the sixties in Southern California, the hippy movement is strong, surfing and surf rock rule, mistrust is rampant, and everyone is corrupt. Everyone is looking to score but it’s not always drugs they are looking for.
Last year’s holiday season I decided to buy all of my friends used books. I love giving presents but sometimes it can make someone feel awkward for not giving you a gift. But a second-hand book takes out all the guilt. They are less than a drink and oftentimes less than, or the same price as a cup of coffee. I started to track how much money I spent on books for gifts. Then I realized it would be fun to see how much money I spent on books in a year. I often times look at my bookcases and wonder how much I have spent. When a friend suggests we get a manicure, I always think, but I could get a book with that money. No judgement on women who pay to get their nails done; from what I understand it is often about indulging one’s self. For me, buying a book is a much greater indulgence and seeing a new book on my shelf makes me so much happier than looking at professionally painted nails.
A Naked Singularity tricked me. I don’t mean the author, Sergio de la Pava, tricked me. Nor do I mean, Casi, public defender, narrator, tricked me. No, the book itself tricked me. I saw its spine, psychedelic with white and black and fuschia design and lettering. It called to me to pick it up. I did. I read the back and thought, sounds ok. But maybe I just want to read it because the cover is beautiful. I put it down. I would not pick up a 678 page book for $18 by an author I never heard of because it was pretty. I am not that easily seduced. I walked away. But later I wondered about the book. Did I use the book’s length as an excuse? Was I lazy? Was I not giving a new author a chance? I picked up the book at another bookstore and pondered it again. No, still not what I wanted. I thought about it so more. Did I pick it up the second time because it was so pretty? So I looked at it a third time at the first bookstore. This time I reread the blurb and decided it was for me.
Book Borrowers Council Mission Statement
The Book Borrowers Council (BBC) advocates and initiates safe environments for books to be borrowed and lent. The Council encourages reading and respect for the printed art form. There is a secret labyrinthian library for those deemed worthy. In it coffee is constantly brewed, plush chairs abound, there are views from every window, bookshelves nine feet high that never topple every book you will ever want to read in alphabetical order is arranged by genre by the gentle ghost of Kafka’s cockroach. Unfortunately, the BBC knows nothing of this place.