Thursday, September 30, 2010

Recent Reading

An eclectic group of books I have attempted recently, so I thought I would present some thoughts about them. Kind of like a mini-review. Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea is an excellent and well-written account of an American mountaineer’s obsession with providing schools and community development projects for the mountainous, isolated northern portions of Pakistan. It is a good introduction to life in this region, and sheds light on many of the diverse customs and attitudes of the tribal peoples. It should be taken as a manual of how charitable (and even governmental) assistance should be provided to needy areas, as well as a primer on how to temper that anti-Western anger. We need more Mortensons. In honor of my friend Cheryl, trapped in Wyoming, and who is the baseline by which I have come to judge Canadians, generally (and favorably, cause she is a really nice person), I read Will Ferguson’s Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw, a delightful collection of short accounts of his many trips to different parts of Canada, humorously told. I like Ferguson’s work, in addition to the comedy, for its emphasis on history. Milton Murayama’s Five Years on a Rock was an interesting fictionalized account of a Japanese picture bride in early twentieth-century Hawaii. Lewis Owens’ Bone Game and Stewart O’Nan’s Last Night at the Lobster novellas were a quick change of pace. In Bone Game we have a murder mystery wrapped in Native American academic culture; in Lobster, we follow the thoughts and actions of a manager as he closes down for the last time the Red Lobster he has been employed at while dealing with a semi-mutinous crew and a former girlfriend on the staff. Kinsella’s Dance Me Outside was a small collection of funny stories about Canadian Native Americans, though I was troubled with the voice, as it seemed to present a skewed and somewhat negative portrayal of the culture. Ok, I’ll admit it. . .I read Mitch Albom’s For One More Day, which was a nice bit of caramel corn. If you have children in third to fourth, you may want to add How To Scratch a Wombat, a followup to the children’s favorite, Diary of a Wombat, which I found delightful.

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