Sunday, April 12, 2009


The group of high school friends has got a bit of a reading list started. So, I culled the messages and listed the books and went off to the library. For once I was looking for specific books, not just browsing.

But first I wanted to finish J.G. Ballard's Kingdom Come. A long time ago, shortly after the movie came out, I read Empire of the Sun. And then a couple other of his books. A few weeks ago I read his autobiography, Miracles of Life, that he finished shortly before his death. Kingdom Come is a recent book, 2006, I think. It's very realistic. You can easily imagine the mall, the suburbs, the mentality. All to frightening to imagine.

I just finished one of the books from the list that I had with me: The Last of Her Kind, by Sigrid Nunez. It was interesting. Here I am, the same age as the narrator, entering college the same year and all that. I think I missed out on much of what was going on. It just passed me by, somehow. Was I apathetic? I don't think so. And yet, my experience was so different. Maybe it's because the book's action is in New York and I was in California. But so much of what was going on at the time was in California, that I couldn't have missed it. I remember the Black Student Union and the Hispanic Student Union and the Cesar Chavez strike and Women's Studies. I remember the war protest marches, too. But I was mostly a by-stander. I took very interesting classes -- that I didn't cut; they were really interesting. I pulled all-nighters to write papers, but without the help of drugs. There were drugs, but the only one I really noticed was marijuana. I could smell it a mile away and, unfortunately, got migraine headaches everytime I did, so I never went beyond smelling it, except for the one time I ate some brownies and got so sick that whoever it was who brought them to the dorm finally told me there was some grass in them and maybe I was having a reaction. I have trouble understanding the problems with their families that are related in this book, even though family was one of the prime motivations to go to school in California, about as far from Philly as I could imagine. I read it; I don't know if I enjoyed it.

Right now, I'm reading The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, but Anne Fadiman and it's much more to my taste.

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