Sunday, July 30, 2006

information travels faster in the modern age, as our days are crawling by so slowly

one of the happy consequences of the 45 minutes per day that i spend on public transportation is that i'm getting tons more reading done. for whatever reason i tend to do much more reading in transit than i do even if i have a few nights at home. when i travel or commute i just plow through stuff. my subscriptions to the nation and atlantic monthly, along with a weekly newspaper in my field isn't enough to keep me occupied...i've got time for books again.

on vacation i read an old tom robbins book, even cowgirls get the blues, and sightseeing, a collection of short stories by rattawut lapcharoensap lent to me specifically for the trip by my friend linh. cowgirls was what i'd come to expect from robbins, no surprises. if there was a unifying theme to the stories in sightseeing it was about the underlying strength of family and local culture in the face of intrusion from external elements.

in fact, three of the last four books i've read have been short story collections...the vintage book of amnesia (an anthology featuring a number of differnt authors) and most recently oblivion, a collection by david foster wallace.

i enjoy dfw's non-fiction essays. a supposedly fun thing i'll never do again was hysterical and informative. reading his fiction, however, i get the sense that he's showing off at how skilled a writer he is. and i'll give him that -- he has a command of language and an inventive mind. and he's super prolific. but while reading it i can't help but be reminded of the jon lovitz parody of the ACTOR who when on stage shows he's ACTING. with dfw it's like he's making sure you know he's a serious WRITER. he's a bit guilty of it in his non-fiction, but it's very apparent in his fiction. his essays are of course famous for the footnotes, so much so that he's been parodied by the onion. high praise indeed.

anyway, i'm now back to novels, halfway through the virgin suicides, and with a stack of things on deck. this public-transport commuting thing isn't half-bad.

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