Adventures in Literacy

It’s tough to devote time to reading these days but I try to make sure that I get through at least a few pages a night. It’s important that I spend at least a little time not staring at a glowing screen when I’m not toddler wrangling.

This past month, however, thanks to a United Church book sale and a friend who works at the McGill bookstore, I’ve been on something of a reading jag and managed to get through a larger number of books than usual. Here are some of the highlights.

Broken Music – Sting

I have a thing for showbiz autobiographies because they can be often charming, frank, and humourous (see Dear Fatty by Dawn French) or incredibly self-aggrandizing and full of bullshit. Sting is somewhere between the two. I recently became nostalgic for his first solo album, The Dream of the Blue Turtles, which was when Sting was still a pretty good singer-songwriter before he became the most boringest man on Earth. Around the same time, I found a copy of his 2003 memoir for a dollar.

The book covers his life before his success with the Police and as you might expect, it’s incredibly pretentious. His recall of past events is embellished with descriptive details that I doubt even the sharpest mind would remember (“My fingers froze over the piano keys mid-cadenza.”). I only recently remembered spending my Saturdays running around the stables at the harness racing track where my dad spent time (which is a great thing to have in your childhood, by the way). Some like events are likely to be embroidered a bit. But I suppose all our memories do that. I certainly can’t argue that he has a bad prose style.

Dead Air – Iain Banks

Another acquisition from that church sale, Dead Air is a paranoid semi-thriller set during the days following the terrorist attacks in the US on September 11, 2001. A left-wing radio host has an affair with a mobster’s wife, goes on enjoyably leftist rants, and punches a Holocaust denier (then denying it ever happened. Ha!). It’s funny but the 9/11 thing is wallpaper and the thriller aspect fizzles out at the end. Apparently Banks writes really good sci-fi so I should check that out.

Stuff White People Like – Christian Lander

Based on the popular blog, I learned that I am merely 41% white, despite being ethnically whiter than milk. I have very pedestrian tastes, sadly.

Wishful Drinking – Carrie Fisher

George Lucas wouldn’t let her wear a bra under her Princess Leia costume because “underwear doesn’t exist in space”.

Next up: Saints of Big Harbour by Lynn Coady. All the better to help me get in a mindset to return to the Maritimes (which, yes, is still going on).

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