I never really had any sort of intentions to read this book. I’d seen the movie and, while I like cooking, I never really felt the need to read a book about someone cooking their way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking. But then I was at Half Priced Books and found a copy for two dollars. And when I see books I’ve heard of for under five dollars I have a hard time not buying them. And I found it far more entertaining than I would have thought. It’s not really a book about cooking, it’s a book about a woman with friends, family and a husband who decides to set a goal for herself. Which happens to be about cooking. I really liked it, actually. I took it with me when I went with my mother to Put-in-Bay and Kelley’s Island. And even with the constant touring and golf cart driving I still managed to read all but about thirty pages by the end of the trip.
It left me with two things; the idea that someday, after I’ve written enough about myself and my interests in this blog I’d like to write a memoir. Which is how this blog got named in the first place. Also, the overwhelming urge to make oeufs en cocette with sauce au cari.
I really sort of loved this book completely. I picked it up because it was mentioned by a friend who has good taste and I liked the review in the New York Times. I hadn’t read anything else by the author but his name rang a bell like a tickle in the back of my mind and I needed something good but fast paced for my Key West vacation. Anyway, I really sort of loved it in the way that it was probably one of the more realistic love stories I’ve ever read. If you can call it a love story, which I suppose you can. Emotions are heightened and confused and blown out of proportion the way they are in real life.
However, the setting was almost more of a character to me than any of the people were. Set somewhere in the near future Super Sad True Love Story shows a world in havoc. An expensive war with Venezuela has led to the basic collapse of the dollar and the Chinese are the only thing keeping the United States from complete financial ruin. Technology has progressed to the point where everyone carries around a device called an apparat that’s pretty much a portable computer that connections everyone to everyone else. There’s nothing that specifically says they’re mandatory but in an early scene a man’s detained on an airplane for not having his. People don’t get to know each other, instead they check a list of statistics. To be honest, it really depressed me. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. I’m on my computer far too much and I love that I don’t actually really need a television to watch my favorite shows anymore. I like being connected to other people on the internet. But, I don’t think I could ever accept it as a substitute to actual human interaction. I grieve in advance for a world without books, where people don’t read. I like having tactile things. I still write with a pen and paper and I don’t foresee a time when I don’t. A lot of times I watch or read things that take place in the future and find it easy to think them fun or quaint, even if they’re dystopian, simply because I don’t find them likely to happen. Like… I do fear robots someday taking over and enslaving the human race, but I don’t see it happening any time soon. And I’m not saying what goes on in Super Sad True Love Story is definitely around the corner but a lot of it seems likely.
So, highly recommended if you want to think or even just be entertained. It’s creepy, scary, and fun. Which is sort of a strange combination, but a good one. And while I went on and on about the setting, this is, essentially, the dysfunctional love story between Lenny Abramov and Eunice Park.
I really enjoy Ian McEwan as a writer. I’m hardly alone in this, I’m aware. Atonement was obviously ridiculously popular, both in print and in film. So, when he publishes a new book people tend to take notice. Solar, his latest endeavor tells the story of Nobel Laureate, Michael Beard, who’s life goes spiraling out of control by a series of farcical events, starting with his fifth wife’s affair to the ultimate collapse of pretty much his entire life, all relating to his increasingly poor decisions. There are parts that are downright hilarious and parts that are just sort of sad. There’s not way that the reader can exactly like Beard, as he putters along surviving on the glory of the Nobel Prize he won when he was still young and hungry. But, seeing as as though he is the main character you can’t quite help but be on his side at times. Such as in one of my favorite sequences when he’s publicly ostracized over a strange misunderstanding and leaves a debate to a crowd of protesters. One throws a tomato which he jokingly tosses back, underhand, and ends up smacking the thrower in the face. She dramatically sinks to the ground clutching her “wounded” face while smashing the tomato further. McEwan can describe it better, of course, so maybe you should just give it a read.
Honestly, I was about halfway through before I realized that it was a satire, and then everything started making more sense. The events became hilarious instead of melodramatic, which was clearly what was intended. Like when Beard’s penis suffers from severe frostbite and actually breaks off on a trip to the Arctic. We get a few chapters of him being in pain and then it flashes five years forward and we never hear about his broken junk again. Though it implied that somehow he was repaired. Oh, trust me, it’s funny.
I’ve read a lot of books but I’ve never really come across one that was more… just… completely over the top. Though, the subject matter is fitting to the style. I’ve never read anything else by Hiaasen but the reviews I read seemed to imply this book was typical of his others, but I can’t quite talk about what I don’t know, so I’ll concentrate on Star Island. It’s the story of Cherry Pye, child pop star, who debuted at fifteen and grew up spoiled and irresponsible. Now she’s at her last chance to keep her career, though she doesn’t quite seem to realize it, and her family, publicists, and manager are all doing their utmost to make sure the cash keeps flowing. Even to the length of employing Ann DeLusia, Cherry’s full time decoy. She gets herself photographed entering swanky parties while Miss Pye is puking her guts out somewhere else. Which all works out fine until a corpulent obsessed paparazzo kidnaps the wrong girl. Throw in a disillusioned ex Florida Governor who’s living wild in a mangrove swamp in northern Key Largo, a tattoo of Axl Rose with the body of a zebra, and an ex-con bodyguard with a messed up face and an actual weed whacker for a hand and it just gets more and more hilarious, and more and more entertaining. This is pretty much absurdity at it’s best and it really works.