Dear readers, is there anything quite like a debilitating sickness in which to get your priorities straight? This is the conclusion I am forced to reach after being absolutely crushed by the flu earlier this month, only to be rejuvenated by the prospects and possibilities that are “normalcy.”
When ill, the dilemma becomes what to do with the remaining hours of the day, exhausted despite your 14 hours of sleep a night. Not being able to do much other than lie around and wait to feel better, I did what any logical sick person does – I watched an entire season of a television series. And Mad Men is not messing around. Season 4 is the finest season to date, allowing for some major plot points and movement to occur in the slow burn that is Don Draper’s life. A new firm, new affairs, as well as a confrontation with his alcohol problem gives this season plenty of fuel, even to be enjoyed by those who are not delirious.
Properly nostalgic for an era I never knew, I decided to visit an old friend of a movie. The Boat That Rocked (Pirate Radio to you Yanks) is a perfectly cast British comedy about illegal rock stations that existed in the North Sea in the 1960s. It’s a charming movie that doesn’t drag on too long (huge plus for modern movie making), and it’s about the power and lasting impact of rock and roll. It features a great soundtrack, as it should, but the shining moment is the wordless perfection that is the Leonard Cohen scene, featuring “So Long, Marianne”. Watch it, love it, and report back to me with your thanks.
Five days of consuming nothing but water and watching television may sound like fun in hindsight, but it is books that I was forced to cast aside during my illness that I came back to with renewed vigor when finally healthy. David Mitchell has long been a fascination of mine, despite never really digging into the source material. He’s intelligent, well regarded, and stylistically challenging. Therefore, he is really intimidating. The best way to tackle him is head on, and Cloud Atlas is a testament to how rewarding that experience can be. With six narrations intertwining over centuries, all written in unique dialects and in unique settings, this book may leave you scratching your head at times, but the result is masterful.
Comedian Michael Ian Black presents a distinct challenge for me as well, as I think he is brilliantly funny and a vital cog in some of my favorite comedies of the past decade. However, I thought his first book was very sub par. So much so that even while waiting for my hold to come up for You’re Not Doing it Right, I considered calling the whole thing off. I’m glad I did not. Part memoir, part humor, this book of essays is a candid take on Black’s life and career, and is a huge step forward in his writing as well.
Finally, dear readers, as I don’t want you to think I am not a man of his word, I want to update you on my conquests in relation to my last post, in which I was stuck in the perils of non-reading and instead only further accumulating future books “to read.” Pulphead could possibly be the most enjoyable read (best said here) I’ve had in months, if it was not forced to live in the shadow of the major event that is The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. A book, that caused me to remark to a friend, “It’s so good I would rather be reading it than doing anything else at the moment.” (Good thing to say to a friend in conversation, by the way, reminding them you’d rather be doing something else.) I am devouring it, and therefore been plagued by the regret of not having read it sooner. Would the past me have enjoyed it quite so much for the same reasons? I am left with the comforting thought that I must not dwell on what is not being read, but only to enjoy what I am able to do now – which is read on.