Sunday, August 13, 2006


While Ann did not officially tag me, I decided to go with this meme anyway:

1. One book that changed my life. Rabbit Run by John Updike. It gave me my first hint about what sex was about, however indistinct its references were. It was the second Updike book I read (The Centaur was the first), and it kept me on a path that would eventually lead me to read just about everything he’s written (except for the magazine review articles in “The New Yorker”). I always marveled at his ability to write a sentence that ran for a full page, and you don’t even notice.

2. One book you’ve read more than once. None. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book more than once. I will watch certain movies over and over again, but for some reason I feel that once I’ve read a book, I’ve gotten everything I can from it and I don’t go back. When I do re-read one, I bet it’ll be On the Road by Jack Kerouac.

3. One book you’d want on a desert island. I am tempted to say The Bible, even though it may seem trite. I’ve read it through three or four times now and there is no lack of things to learn there. If I couldn’t have that, it would have to be The Early Stories by John Updike. The 103 short stories in that volume should provide plenty of diversion.

4. One book that made you laugh. A Wolverine is Eating My Leg by Tim Cahill. Or anything by Carl Hiaasen.

5. One book that made you cry. Harumph. Being a man, I don’t cry, of course, but if I did, it would probably be due to reading The Greatest Generation, about how my parents saved the world.

6. One book you wish had been written. How to Ensure That Your Children Are Never Hurt by the World. It’s selfish, I know, and probably not a good idea, but when your children hurt, you do too.

7. One book you wish had never been written. There are so many, like bad Patricia Cromwell novels, but I choose Mein Kampf. I don't know, maybe things would have turned out differently.

8. One book you are currently reading. Man in the Shadows by Efraim Halevy. Halevy worked in the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service for about forty years, mostly in leadership positions. He purports to reveal the inside story on the crisis in the Middle East, so I hope he gets to it pretty quickly. Right now his insights are few and far between.

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read. Magister Ludi by Hermann Hesse. I started reading it a twelve hour bus ride to visit my then girlfriend at her college in Virginia in 1968. I got about a third of the way through it and never finished it.

10. Tag five people. Suburban Lesbian, Rebecca's Thoughts , Nettie, Rabid Fun, thestafflounge. I'm sure they'll appreciate it.

I have other more meaningful categories for me. Would you like to see them? Of course you would. So, due to popular demand, here you go:

1. Best use of dialect: Close Range by Annie Proulx. I’ve never been to Wyoming, but I can sure hear their voices.

2. Best use of images: any John Updike short story. If he writes about a winter day, you feel cold. If he writes about riding in an auto, you get car sick. If he writes about sex…oh, have I said too much?

3. Best use of oriental sensibility: Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden. OK, “oriental” is a politically incorrect term, but “Asian” is kind of antiseptic in this usage. The delicate threads running through the story are reminiscent of Snow Falling on Cedars. I practically went off on a woman at our dinner table on the last cruise we were on who remarked that Memoirs was a terrible book.

4. Secret pleasure: reading the Spenser novels of Robert B. Parker. I’m a sucker for that crisp, funny, punny dialogue and undercurrent of righteous violence, whether the characters come to blows or not.

5. Worst run of secret pleasure reading: this summer. I have read twelve Robert B. Parker novels and I have two more sitting here right now. Someone stop the madness!

6. Most recent surprising (pleasant) discovery: Anita Shreve and Sea Glass. It led me to read a couple more of her books. Very interesting characters.

7. The last book you read because it would “be good for you”: The Purpose Driven Life. “They” were right.

8. The book that everyone in your generation read, but would never admit it to each other: The Harrad Experiment, by Robert Rimmer about a college where sex was not part of the curriculum, it was the curriculum. Presented in a very wholesome way, of course.

9. The book your ninth grade English teacher raved about, but that you vowed you would never read precisely because of her recommendation: Personally, I kinda liked my English teacher, so anything she suggested was cool with me.

10. Best essential desk reference: Roget’s Thesaurus. Not the wimpy hard backs they have now, but the three inch thick paperback version I carried through high school, college and grad school.


At 8/13/2006 5:30 PM, Blogger Rebecca said...

Holy Cow...this is a serious thing is going to take me a couple of days to think through..but I LOVE IT!!!

At 8/14/2006 8:14 AM, Blogger John Cowart said...

Thanks (I think)for tagging me with this thing. I haven't taken an essay exam like this for years but I'll give it some thought and try to do the assignment later in the week. Do you grade on a curve?

At 8/14/2006 10:18 AM, Blogger Shane said...

Wait a minute, according to your answer for number 3, your answer for number 2 should be the Bible.

At 8/14/2006 3:19 PM, Blogger -Ann said...

Shane - My thought exactly! I think I might have to do Dad's extra credit questions.

At 8/15/2006 5:17 AM, Blogger John Cowart said...

Ok, I did it. You'll find my answers for good or ill in my Tuesday, August 15th blog.

Oh by the way, you may want to tie up your dog.

At 8/16/2006 8:50 PM, Blogger Career Guy said...

Ann and Shane: Oh. I see that now. The Bible doesn't count? There. That's my answer.

At 8/26/2006 1:19 AM, Blogger Rebecca said...

I will get to this -
in fact I have started
but goodness
it takes some thought..
just got back from travel so now I have more time again..the reading on my trip was basically The Highway Code and that was all!
That's one book I would like to forget!


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