BOTM for May + Quick Baby Update

Jack came home from the hospital yesterday afternoon, very pink and acting much more like a typical baby should act: crying, pooping, and wanted to be held and/or fed 20 out of every 24 hours. Grandmas continue to duel in the kitchen, grandpas (and daddy) continue to try and sleep whenever possible, and Mommy continues to sprint like an Olympian whenever the slightest noise emanates from the NFU's throat.

In other words, back to normal.

So for the month of May we were in the hospital 22 our of 31 days. Not a lot of time for reading so BOTM was between two books. And the clear winner, despite my overwhelming love for Mailer, was (God help me) an Oprah Book of the Month Club selection.

But not just any Oprah selection. Cormac McCarthy's The Road is something very different, both from the Op's previous selections as well as his own works. Probably the shortest of his novels, The Road is they bleak yet redemptive story of an unnamed man and his young son, travelling to the coast in a post-apocalyptic world. There may be no cowboys or West here, but the feeling of desolation and wrecked dreams perfectly merge with McCarthy's previous output. As the father and son walk from one danger to the next, the reader is caught up not in a lot of back story or plot - you never know what exactly happened to the earth - but instead to the thoughts and feelings of the father and son as they try to survive in a dangerous world while clinging to the last remnants of humanity left to them. To the son, they "Carry the fire" and "are the good guys." The father does what he can to keep this feeling alive for as long as they can keep moving, keep heading to the coast and the faint possibility that there is someone, anyone there who may be able to help them. It's a gripping, fast read, and I admit to feeling personally connected as I read it in the few days before my son was born. But no matter what your circumstance, The Road is a great novel and a nice, easy introduction to reading Cormac McCarthy. Just be warned: this is his easiest novel - beware before treading to deeper waters like Sutree or Blood Meridian.

  • The Castle in the Forest by Norman Mailer - Mailer attempts to tackle the early life of Adolf Hitler, blending a tale of devils and angels in the lives of both Hitler, his family, and his ancestors. Mailer got as much flak as praise for The Castle in the Forest, the flak mainly stemming from historian and Hitler fanatics who cry that Mailer didn't focus enough on one aspect or another, and that the known facts of the the tyrant's life were, stretched a bit to conform to the ideas of the novel. Well, when your narrator is a mid-level devil working for the Maestro (Satan), and the higher power is nicknamed the DK (Dumb-ass in German), I think Mailer did exactly what he wanted to with the facts and figures of Hitler's early life. So what was the problem? Two things: there are a few detours in the novel, most notably the coronation of Nicolas of Russia, that feel wholly out of place. It's self-indulgence that maybe Mailer's earned after all these years, but one that the already-long novel could have done without. Second, there's no real ending to the novel - it could have gone on forever continuing the life of young Adi. Instead, it just sort of peters out. The language, the imagery, the characters are all fantastic and fleshed out. But The Castle in the Forest feels like a morning jog that just continues and continues and continues...
Real short month. Since the Missus took up my copy of Bush at War, I'm slowly reading (and totally enjoying) Octavia E. Butler's final novel, Fledgling. Today is actually my birthday, so I'm heading out in the hurricane weather to see if there's anything new to strike my fancy while the Missus graciously watches the NFU.

Happy mid-30's birthday to me!