Reading

Sharing Saturation Through DeLillo’s “White Noise”

Over summer, my wife and I visited the most photographed lighthouse in the world. We didn’t question the claim’s validity. We just went with it. The lighthouse stop was part of our New Hampshire and Maine last minute road trip. It was a good trip. We slept in the car and jumped in the water and ate a lot of seafood. We were in York when we heard about it: “The most photographed lighthouse.” Just up the road, said the internet, a few miles from where you are.

So we jumped in the car and found it. Instinctively, my first thought was, Yes, this looks like a lighthouse. It’s cute, scenic, impressionable. It is all the things lighthouses are and should be.

I didn’t want to take a picture.

Rather, it seemed better to be the guy who visits “Most Photographed” type places, and doesn’t take pictures. The concept would make for a good blog. But as I stood there watching dozens of tourists snapping their film and tapping their screens—a fervent mixture of new and old technology, crunching, shaking, iPhones uploading moments through invisible data, data that I too could claim!—something crept up inside me, like a tremor, and before I knew it, there I was, unceremoniously taking a picture.

So here’s the picture:

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It wasn’t until later, while reading a novel by Don DeLillo, that the lighthouse was *uhem* illuminated once more inside my head. As I’ve come to understand, DeLillo is a cultural critic; his novels address society’s many obsessions and explores what roles these obsessions play in our lives, as well as how they define us. Death, technology, consumerism, media, crowds, for instance, these are common motifs DeLillo highlights with excellent vision and irony.

His novel, White Noise, takes a look at these motifs and addresses them in terms of family life and the suburbs (also there’s an Airborne Toxic Event). Here’s what a book cover may look like: (more…)

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Modern Mantras in Aged Fiction: Crichton’s Formula for Success

Hidden away in a forty year old (mainstream) fiction novel—a potboiler, a seemingly shallow tale, prime facie—lies the secret formula for life’s success. I almost couldn’t believe it when I read it. It was so simple, so perfect. See, I’ve perused business books and self-help guides, written by CEOs, millionaires and pastors; all these people with too much time on their hands, penning “how to succeed in life.” And I’ve read them, too, because that’s what leaders do. We read books and make mantras and talk about them on our blogs. But the lessons learned in business books often dissipate faster than tweets, and we’re again left with just ourselves, curious and conspiring.

But these two sentences said everything—articulated in a cold, simple language, a language that only Michael Crichton, the master of logical and academic science fiction, could accomplish.

You went out and you hunted, armed with your maps and your instruments, but in the end your preparations did not matter, or even your intuition. You needed your luck, and whatever benefits accrued to the diligent, through sheer, grinding hard work.

Take a second, and read it again. For me? And take it slow, because these are two damn-good, well-constructed sentences. Drink them like you would an overpriced glass of wine, and when you’re done, close your eyes to impress your friends. (more…)

Kevin’s Ultra Hip (Hella Sick) Summer Book Club

Recently, I made a pact with my brain. That over summer I would spend more time reading than Netflixing. Netflix, my best fake friend, is a great tool for relaxing, especially after a 23 credit semester, say, by me. And, oh, I wanted to veg-out on Netflix more than my hipster neighbor wanted rollerblades. But I made a pact, and pacts are serious.

Previous post-semester breaks have included many veg-out TV series marathons (8 seasons of 24 and 9 seasons of How I Met Your Mother come to mind). To be Frank, I’ve still been enjoying Netflix in moderate occasions: a Sherlock episode here, a Comedy Bang-Bang there. But moderate is where I’m trying to keep it.  It’s time to take a break from marathon Netflix summers and, instead, marathon some books.

And the readings have been excellent so far.

If you are looking for some great books to read, then please, read these. We can talk about them together and start a cool kid reading club. Maybe you’ve read a few. Maybe you’ll have a little catching up to do. Maybe you can pick and choose. Either way, join my club. It will be ultra hip and hella sick. We’ll watch The Pagemaster together at the end of summer, and it will be fun.

Kevin’s Ultra Hip (Hella Sick) Summer Book Club

 The_Stand_cover1. The Stand by Stephen King – Completed

I just finished this one the other night, and I had never felt so accomplished. 1200 breathtaking pages. Technically though, it’s sort of cheating. I started the book back in December. The Stand is super long, and I had to wait till my semester was over to read most of it. But it was worth it! Also, Hollywood making a big budget movie. You could be ahead of the curve! (more…)

New Year’s ResoWINtions (or, I’m More Resolute Than You Are)

New Year’s Resolutions have a bad wrap. To be fair, the word “lose” is implied in the name. I prefer resoWINtions (I’m a crafty wordsmither, no?). Pastors, blogs, magazines, everyday folks, they all clamber resolution warnings. No doubt, your ear-holes and eye-balls have been plagued with a mess of conflicting messages. Christians, I’ve found, like to shrug off New Years Resolutions. Maybe they see it as shallow. I don’t know. Some folks, maybe, don’t like to be reminded how susceptible to failure they are.

As for me, I’m a fan of new challenges. I like them all year-round. Once, I only used chopsticks for three months or so.

SIDE NOTE: Hands down, salad is best eaten with chopsticks. (more…)

I Love Goooollldd… mund (and Narcissus)

urlLast night, I finished my first Herman Hesse novel, Narcissus and Goldmund. A friend gave me this over Christmas; I may or may not be a slow reader.

Lay off me.

It was amazing. Not an easy read for me. It’s more detail oriented than plot focused, which means it had to win me over. Despite the book’s slow start, Narcissus and Goldmund is a beautiful tale worth every bit of your time.

Instead of a full review you probably won’t read, I’ll just share my favorite passage. If you feel interested in reading it, just google the book and you’ll find the synopsis.

For those needing to be sold, here you go: It has tons of sex! Also, death, traveling, and philosophical discussion regarding the difference between artists and thinkers.

My favorite passage (kind of grim, but beautiful still):

Perhaps, he thought, the root of all art, and perhaps also of all intellectual activity, is the fear of death. We fear it, we shudder at the ephemeral nature of all things, we grieve to see the constant cycle of fading flowers and falling leaves and are aware in our own hearts of the certainty that we too are ephemeral and will fade away.

So when as artists we create images, and as thinkers we search for laws and formulate ideas, we do so in order to salvage something from the great Dance of Death, to create something that will outlast our lifetime.

-Herman Hesse

That’s all for today folks. Are there any fans of this book out there? I’m still processing it, and would love to hear other thoughts regarding its themes.

Have a great weekend everybody!