Book Ten: Puff

Puff, Bob Flaherty

This is one of those books that I liked in spite of myself. I didn't really want to like it (don't ask why I decided to read it), and half way through I felt totally justified in my dislike of it, but then something flipped and I loved every second, every sentence of this book. Essentially, the book takes place in the seventies and the plot involves two brothers in a large van trying to make their way through a mother of a snowstorm in Boston to score a bag of pot. Which isn't quite where the book gets its name--that comes from a childhood pet cat who will viciously maul anyone in its way. Perhaps the reason I started to like the book is because I, too, had a childhood pet cat named Puff, who, when it came down to it, wasn't the most affectionate cat in the world.

Okay, so I think I decided to read the book for three reasons: because I got it as a freebie from the haul that Gael brings to bookclub, because I liked the cover, and because I remembered that the University bookstore had it on display as a staff pick. But, seriously, reading coming of age novels about stoner brothers isn't usually my thing. However, this book was super funny and super touching, in that way that makes you picture the indie movie in your head as you read it. You're laughing so much that you don't realize what happened when you're sobbing your eyes out. I mean, the author even gives you the soundtrack as you go: the Rolling Stones, the Ramones, Talking Heads, the Tubes, the Sex Pistols, and Duke and the Drivers. There's also a serious amount of disbelief to be suspended in the way of a dying mother (why are these brothers out driving around looking for pot when their mother and last remaining parent is dying in a hospital?), but it's the kind of disbelief that turns you into a believer very quickly. Because the question really is: why are these brothers out driving around looking for pot when their mother is dying in a hospital?

I imagine that this is the kind of book that appeals to 30-and-40-ish men, who fondly remember youth and the audacity that comes with being a teenage/20-something boy. But I, a 30-something girl, liked it quite a bit.

Book Nine: Cookoff

Cookoff: Recipe Fever in America, Amy Sutherland

Seriously, another two-plus weeks to read a book. I swear I'm still working toward my goal, but this past month has really seen me kind of sidetracked. I blame work, but Chris thinks it's all the American Idol I've been watching. It's true that watching American Idol is a serious time commitment, what with it being on about eighteen hours a week, but I think there are other factors involved. However, what I'm here to do is write about books I've been enjoying, not to discuss shitty reality TV, so moving on...

I think that this book came as a recommendation from Kyla way back when, and I've always kept it on my list of books to read. In fact, I'm pretty sure I checked it out from the library a year or so ago, but never got around to reading it back then. But I'm glad I did this time around because it was just what I wanted in a food book. Though, to be honest, the quality of the food in the book wasn't quite along the lines of what I usually enjoy. In a way I think this was more similar to Word Freak than any food book, which, if you care about these kinds of things, came out before Word Freak, so there's none of that copycat element to it. It captures the craziness of the competitive cooking world in that wonderful, long-article-in-the-New-Yorker kind of way. The only thing that was missing for me was pictures of all the regular contesters that Amy Sutherland writes about. Isn't that usually what you want to do when you read about real-life people, especially real life bordering on crazy people--see pictures of what these freaks look like?

I don't have much else to say about this book, other than it was a delightful--but maybe not quite so memorable--read. I feel, though, like I've been reading too much non-fiction lately, which usually isn't my style, so my next book (which I picked up last night right after I finished this) is nice, silly, good-time fiction. Yay!

Book Eight: Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights, H.G. Bissinger

Does anyone out there not know the story behind Friday Night Lights? I'm not sure why I wanted to read this book, since I honestly could care less about football, and I haven't seen the movie or the TV show... perhaps because I got it free at book club? That aside, it's really really great, even though it took me over two weeks to finish it (putting me a bit off track a bit with my goal--oops). This book made me remember the few high school football games I went to with my friend Amy, who loved to cheer on the players and loved the excitement of it all. It made me feel the excitement of the games and wish I had been there. It made me understand how one little town could get so worked up over a few outstanding high school athletes. But it also really pissed me off! While reading the book I kept having conversations with Chris about how high school sports should be banned, about how poorly black athletes are treated (and about how gross racism is, generally, in the South), about how sad most of the former football players are now in their adult lives, about how none of it is worth much of anything when you really think about it all. Ugh. Also, it made me realize how silly the word "winningest" sounds.