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The Syndicate

 Bathroom books Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version 
 Author:  matt
 Dated:  Sunday, October 10 2004 @ 01:28 AM PDT
 Viewed:  1507 times  
BooksIn the past week or so I read (or re-read) three books whose collective theme, in retrospect, is one of cynicism, but they are coincidentally all perfect reading material for when you're on the hopper.

First up, and least cynical of them all, is a collection of travel writing called Not So Funny When it Happened. Featuring excerpts from such authors as Dave Barry, Bill Bryson and David Sedaris, it's a self-described compendium of travel humor and misadventure. I highly recommend it.

Next (in order of cynicism) is The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Dating & Sex. This book is hilarious, if not altogether the most practical self-help manual out there. It opens with a chapter describing the steps to determine if your date is an axe murderer, and things go downhill from there.

Finally, and what has to be the most patently cynical book I've ever read (including the works of the great Russian writers), I leave you with The Pessimist's Guide to History: An Irresistible Compendium of Catastrophes, Barbarities, Massacres and Mayhem from The Big Bang to the New Millennium. In what can only be described as a prescient moment, the book ends with this:

On New Year's Day, despite a few minor glitches, ATMs dispensed cash, utilities functioned, planes were still flying in the air, no nuclear weapons were deployed, terrorists did not strike, and as dawn broke around the world, the earth was still rotating on its axis.

It was enough to bring tears to a pessimist's eyes. Of course, we never know what's just around the corner, do we?

Most Recent Post: 11/05 12:25AM by matilda

 Quantity Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version 
 Author:  matt
 Dated:  Monday, March 22 2004 @ 12:48 AM PST
 Viewed:  1434 times  
BooksJust an observation: I have a lot of frigging books.

I can't say that my literary larders are more well stocked than some people I know, but those people aren't moving this week.

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Most Recent Post: 08/08 12:52AM by schein

 A List Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version 
 Author:  matt
 Dated:  Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 05:16 AM PDT
 Viewed:  1981 times  
BooksThe Guardian, a british paper, has an article where they rate the top 100 novels of all time. The good news is that I've read a bunch of them. The bad news is that I haven't read a lot more of them.

Not having read them all, I can't say for sure that they're on target with their ratings (which seem to have a reasonable bias toward british authors: Steinbeck and Hemingway don't even make the list), for the most part I'd say that the books that I have read that are mentioned are certainly worthy of the distinction.

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Most Recent Post: 10/14 10:31AM by Forrest

 Favorite Book of All Time Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version 
 Author:  matt
 Dated:  Saturday, September 27 2003 @ 07:12 AM PDT
 Viewed:  1376 times  
BooksMost people fall into two categories when it comes to their favorite book of all time. On the one side, there are those whose favorite book is one of the great cornerstones of literature that we all had to read in high school (A Catcher in the Rye, for example, or in areas with slightly more conservative mores, perhaps Deuteronomy). On the other side, there are the people whose favorite book is written by someone whose work may never be taught in a high school class but is special to them for some reason that seems to have been lost on the general public (maybe A Spell for Chameleon, or The Hunt for Red October).

I fall into a strange place in this whole debate, because my favorite book of all time was written by someone whose works include one or two of the aforementioned cornerstones, but it isn't one of them. It's a "B-Side" to the author's career, because even among the really literate people I know, only a very small percentage have read it. Right about now, I'm probably sounding like one of those self-righteous, elitist windbags that sit around coffee houses and roll their eyes at the thought of people not knowing every single track on every obscure recording of a given band. If you hadn't already guessed, that's not me... but I digress.

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Most Recent Post: 09/29 11:29AM by Forrest

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