25 November 2008

Nonfiction Roundup

Ok, so I remembered some of the other things that I read over my hiatus. Here they are in the nonfiction roundup:

Krakauer, Jon, Into the Wild: I'd read Krakauer before. Under the Banner of Heaven sparked my interest because of it's subject matter and I read it years ago. I was not aware at the time that Krakauer was primarily a nature writer. On a car trip a couple of years ago, I listened to a copy of Into Thin Air that I picked up at a thrift store and found it much more engaging that Banner, even though I wasn't terribly drawn to the subject matter. I had heard a lot about Into the Wild and the story of Chris McCandless before I read it. I heard about it from a friend who was working academically on ideas about American masculinity. I had a preformed idea that McCandless was basically a romantic, who made the mistake of confusing fiction and reality. I saw Sean Penn's beautiful film version, which I really believe buys into the myth of McCandless, before I read the book. I think that Krakauer's book is more balanced. I think that Krakauer envies and idolizes (and romanticizes) McCandless, but also struggles in that he recognizes the error of his ways. I also thought that the book was very readable, and interesting from a literary perspective as well.

Grogan, John, Marley and Me: I listened to this on the car ride on the way to Santa Cruz. It was a guilty pleasure. I really enjoyed it. The story is touching and human and I am certainly an animal lover myself. I cried.

Wallace, David Foster, McCain's Promise: First of all, David Foster Wallace will be missed. When I saw this sitting on the shelf with the other "election books" at my local B&N, I was curious. It turns out that this article, which originally appeared in Rolling Stone, is also reprinted in Consider the Lobster (a book already on my shelf that I have not read). This re-release came out for the election season with a forward by Slate writer Jacob Weisberg, which was one of the highlights of the book, so I wasn't sad that I bought a full price copy of something I already owned. As someone who considers herself on the far side of the left, but nonetheless might have voted for McCain if he had won the 2000 nomination, and is a (basically) native Arizonan, I have always been fascinated by McCain as a politician. Although I was a firm Obama supporter (yes, we can) in the 2008 election, I am still interested in McCain. I was also interested to see what Foster Wallace - not much of a conservative- saw that fascinated him about this candidate. It turns out that in 2000, McCain was as confusing as he is now. Wallace points out the paradox of McCain as a politician: he seems unable to reconcile truthfulness and politics, but really wants to. I found this a really engaging examination of the candidate and also really innovative in terms of political writing. Wallace is not a political writer and shows his audience what it means to campaign from a very different perspective.


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