Monday, April 26, 2010

Cities of the Plain: Cormac McCarthy

Well, The Border Trilogy had to come to an end sometime. In this third novel everything comes together and as one may have started to suspect in the second installment, The Crossing, Billy Parham is instantly shown to have a love for John Grady Cole due to the latter resembling the former's younger brother Boyd who was also extremely gifted with horses. Billy seems to have learned to appreciate Cole's hard headed nature and at eight years older certainly plays the role of big brother and best friend. This book was shorter and a much quicker read then the first two and despite it giving a feeling as if it were the book McCarthy originally conceptualized and the first two were just brilliantly formulated background; I would still have to agree that All the Pretty Horses was the best of the three. I missed the character of Lacey Rawlings who was John Grady's cousin and travelling companion in the first novel. Despite the fact that Billy was a similar character of thoughtful action as opposed to the instinctive and impulsive nature of the gifted horsemen that were John Grady and Boyd Parham I couldn't help, but hope that he would reappear in this conclusion. McCarthy does create characters that a reader grows attached to and this is true of all five of the main cowboys of the trilogy and even some of the smaller roles, particularly the other ranch hands in this finale. I also will admit that I found myself saddened to leave my new friends at the ending as the Los Angeles Book Review writer (quoted in the opening pages) had told me I would be. The end was shocking and abrupt and then the epilogue jumped so far into the future that I longed to know of the missing years. Overall, I enjoyed these books despite the death and the often dark philosophy. McCarthy truly is a gifted storyteller and I still desire to read more from him, namely, No Country for Old Men. Thanks.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The March of the Midge

Here we are in April and the Midge trudges on at about 7 books off of the pace. Still trying to make-up for a rough February and March.........The Border Trilogy is almost at a close and so is the never ending Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I also have Doctor Zhivago freshly purchased and sitting by on the bedside table. is a poem for the time being. I'd hate to leave all of my millions of fans suffering....

An Al Green Record

An Al Green Record
No. A Paul McCartney ballad
A bee sting. My allergic reaction.
Like the World isn't ending
or like its ok.
A Perfect Authentic Cadence........Resolution
A Nervous Breakdown
Manic Depression
No. Bob Marley
Bobby Kennedy, Barack Obama, Sunrise,
Tequila Sunrise, Twilight, The In Between
A B S O L U T E  M U S I C
Debussy, Ravel, Berlioz, Mahler, Sturm und Drang, Requiem, Fantasia
Chopin, Brahms Chamber Music

It's like "When she Believes," or "You're Gonna Make me Lonesome When you go."
Like "Jesus, etc." and "I'm the Man who Loves You."

No it's and Al Green Record
The Wood Brothers, Martin Sexton, Otis Redding

                          It's the Same

"Still the Same," "Here, there, Everywhere."
Too Much. Too Many to Understand. All at Once. Full too Far, Far too Big.
The ones I can't bear when you're not there.
Segar, The Kings, "Radio King," "Jesus," "You are my Face," "Eitherway."
Ups, Downs, Highs, Lows, Can't keep even keel.
So many more new highs
Much Much More Mucho More
Everything Better, More Vivid, Important, True, Real, Fun.
It's "Simply Beautiful," "The Happy Song." I wouldn't dare play Otis except "The Happy Song."

There's more. It could poor. I could revise, edit, rewrite.
I don't know if it'd be better.
It's Organ, Piano, Stripped down, Bare Bones, Three Chords, Catchy Tune, Sappy Song, Cheezy Lyrics, and a poor arrangement.

It's Love Dummy. It hurts and heals and smiles and kneals and waits and waits...
You make me feel like an Al Green Record.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Crossing: Cormac McCarthy

Well this one really froze me up for a bit. There are Books I-IV and they can really feel as such. Again, McCarthy has lulled me into his slowly developing tale, but along the way I became attached to Billy Parham much in the same way I had with John Grady Cole. I love McCarthy's descriptions of the land and his attention to details regarding the joys of simple work, the majesty of horses and other animals, and to the difference between age-old wisdom and book smarts among men. The only parts in The Crossing that can really wear on a reader and slow one's progress through this novel are the often long and extremely detailed stories told by random acquaintances met on the road. To be sure, this is where Mr. McCarthy reveals a deep understanding of philosophy and local history and some critics may find these tales of oral-aural history from the random gypsies, vaqueros, and priests of McCarthy's old Mexico to be the true splendor of his prose, but they pop up out of nowhere and sometimes drag on. I am also willing to admit that they give great insight to his character's patience and wisdom beyond their years as John Grady, or in this chapter Billy Parham sit listening only to reply with thoughtfully formed questions, but again, I found myself getting stuck on them and longing to get on with the plot. The Crossing, much like All The Pretty Horses, is a sad story and it makes me expect nothing different from Cities of the Plain, which I have thus far sped through about 50 pages or so excited about the prospect of these two great characters coming together. It seems that Billy will certainly take to John Grady, seeing the resemblance between he and poor Boyd. Often one must find a character to grow attached to for a novel to grab a hold of he or she and McCarthy will give you those, but I am finding that the author's style of purposefully keeping his reader in the dark and slowly revealing truths as he sees fit and his simple, understated way of writing dialogue are growing on me just the same way. Keep reading and I'll keep trying to catch up.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Slaughterhouse Five: Kurt Vonnegut

Another high-school beaute. I wasn't one hundred percent sure that I hadn't read Slaughterhouse Five when I picked it up and started reading chapter one in the aisle of an undisclosed corporate monstrosity of a book store. Vonnegut's time-travel timeline kept me uncertain long enough to become thoroughly sucked in before realizing I definitely hadn't been assigned this one. Mr. Vonnegut's decision to choose such a sad character as his hero may be an extreme factor in its timeless effect and popularity. Billy Pilgrim's adventures in space, time, and sanity have undoubtedly influenced artists and authors and the literary technique of a skipping plot line has remained popular and prominent in works ranging from Quantum Leap to the movies of Quentin Tarantino. Of course, Vonnegut didn't invent the idea of time travel or the schizophrenic plot jumps, but his innovative description of what was once called shell-shock and is now referred to as post traumatic stress disorder was unprecedented and arguably more true than a non-fiction report on World War II or the Dresden firebombing (just ask Tim O'Brien, author of The Things They Carried). Like many Americans I find myself always drawn to and interested in anything World War II. Part of this may revolve around the fact that my grandfather was shot down over the Mediterranean Sea and spent two years in a Nazi prison camp. The story surrounding his parachuting, being picked up by a German ship, being marched right through a Hitler rally, and surviving in POW camp while his friends were all shot trying to escape is too remarkable to not have a profound effect on me and make me stop to thank god that I exist every now and then. John Brown somehow survived and continued to raise his family and was an amazing grandfather and so it goes. As for Slaughterhouse Five, it is short and you should read it. If you don't believe me check the Wikipedia article, which in this case is well referenced and beautifully concise and informative. Grazie.