Thursday, April 26, 2007

Boomsday by Christopher Buckley

In BOOMSDAY, Buckley hilariously envisions the nation's next great brouhaha-generational warfare between profligate Baby Boomers and younger Americans who don't want to be stuck paying the bill.

Cassandra Devine, a 29 year-old PR maven and blogger, incites massive generational war when, outraged by mounting Social Security debt, she suggests that Baby Boomers be given government incentives to kill themselves. Her proposal catches fire with millions of outraged citizens and a senator who tries to ride the issue to the White House.

Wow. Is Buckley the new Twain or Heller?

Buckley is definitely a student of these masters of satire, and even references Swift's absurd masterpiece, "A Modest Proposal" in this book.

The most frightening element of this book is when you realize that even the most absurdist PR tactics, flaming blog entries and conniving and underhanded political ploys all have a kernel of truth in them.

As one character in the book remarks, "My, my, my... how very different are the workings of government from what we all read about in books as children. I wonder, do the Founders weep in heaven?"

This is a fantastically absurd book that succeeds in illuminating some of the confusion and tactics employed by individuals who attempt to subvert an agenda for their own means.

Anyone else read (or seen) another of his works, "Thank You for Smoking?" How did that one strike you?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut

One of my literary heroes, Kurt Vonnegut, died yesterday at the age of 84. In that ubiquitous question, “In all of history, what five people would you like to assemble for dinner,” Kurt Vonnegut would be at my table, with Voltaire and Swift and others. But between Voltaire’s French and Swift’s “ye olde(ish) English,” Vonnegut would be the only person I could actually speak with… and that would suit me just fine.

I remember the first time I read “Breakfast of Champions.” I still recall the sense of amazement I had, thinking, “I didn’t even know that books could be written this way!”

From that book, to “Cat’s Cradle,” “Slaughterhouse Five,” “God Bless You Mr. Rosewater,” and “Hocus Pocus” all the way through to “A Man Without a Country,” I thought that every time I read Vonnegut’s work.

I read a quote from him in an Associated Press obituary printed in today’s paper: “(My goal is to) catch people before they become generals and senators and presidents" and "poison their minds with humanity. Encourage them to make a better world.”

I know that he made my world a better place.

It’s always a little strange trying to figure out how you mourn an individual whom you have never met. It’s difficult enough when it is someone close to you. For now, I think I’ll pick up my tattered copy of “Breakfast of Champions,” read a little, and try a little harder to make a better world.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster

Nathan Glass, a curmudgeonly fifty-nine-year-old retired insurance salesman in recovery from lung cancer, returns to Brooklyn looking for a place to die. The dark premise of Paul Auster’s The Brooklyn Follies belies the humor and surprising mirth Nathan finds upon moving back to his birthplace. Along with his literature-loving, cab-driving nephew Tom and a cast of characters including flamboyant ex-cons, married beauties, a silent nine-year-old, and a lip syncing drag queen, Nathan shows us the joys of modern urban life, the city as a refuge for lost souls, and the rescue a lonely man can feel when he embraces community.

I'm a huge fan of Paul Auster's and was really looking forward to this book. I had just finished an advanced copy of his newest book, "Travels in the Scriptorium," and was amazed as ever. Auster is truly one of the more unique and talented authors writing today.

From what I had heard, this book was going to be the most widely accessable in Auster's catalogue. Our book group verified this assumption as everyone involved enjoyed this book immensely. I'll write more on this discussion soon... in the meantime, what did you think of the book?

One interesting thing I once read about Paul Auster: apparently his books are the second most likely to be stolen from bookstores. I can't find where I read that, I'm still trying to verify it...

And the most frequently stolen author...?

Charles Bukowski.

Welcome to our online book club!

Welcome to our online book club.

We wanted to provide a forum for our customers in West Seattle and friends from around the world to discuss the books that are relevant today or matter to us.

For those of you who are unable to meet with us in person, this forum is for you.

In our book club, we alternate between fiction and nonfiction. We want to push the envelope of what you might normally read. Reading and discussing books is all about exploration, we hope to share that journey with you.

In order for this to be a truly interactive discussion, we need your comments. There are no wrong answers here. Books affect each of us individually. Through this forum, your perceptions and comments may help another person achieve greater understanding.

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Also, if you have a book you would like to see discussed here please feel to email us.