24 June 2008

A study in brutal violence

Recently went to the bookstore and bought five books. A little light summer reading, and by 'light summer reading' I mean bleak descriptions of brutal violence. Except for one terrible choice they have been superb.

The terrible book had much promise. It was written by the guy that wrote Thank You for Smoking. I was hoping for more of that. Instead I got a book about a 28 year old PR girl that was "very good looking" and spent all her free time blogging. And having a career crisis. It was the anti-Nick Naylor. I didn't do enough pre-buying research and paid the price (about $16, not including tax).

The other books are all highly recommended, and are (coincidentally) very violent:
  • Blood Meridian - A western classic from Cormac McCarthy. I had though that No Country or maybe The Road (see below) were his most violent work. I was wrong. This is a dense, heavy book of unspeakable violence and depravity. It is superb.

  • Under the Banner of Heaven - Moving from fiction to nonfiction, another book about violence in the American west, this time courtesy of the Mormon (LDS) church and their numerous fundamentalist offshoots, generalized as the FLDS. The Mormons are having their crazyburgers with a side of psychosauce for SURE. Special highlight: did you know that the Mormon church had institutionalized racism (no black people allowed in the "priesthood") until 1978? This history of the church is a fascinating one, not least because there's a lot of conflict between the official, Mormon-sanctioned history and the, umm... how to put this... actual history.

    The Mormons are darlings of the political right in the US because they speak out against homosexuality, adultery, porn, etc. The good thing is they're just one divine revelation away from embracing any of those things (or all of them!). That's the fun part about that thing from '78: pre-78, black people bad! Post-78, black people good! Get them in!

    What changed? I don't know! Doesn't matter! It came from God!

  • The Road - I had avoided this book for months because it was on Oprah's book club. That's a red (unread? honk!) flag but this book is actually pretty good. I don't think it's even as good as All the Pretty Horses, but it's the only McCarthy book I've ever read that has a positive ending. I think that's why people like it so much. Plus you can read it in one sitting (which I did).

  • The Omnivore's Dilemma - I suggest you read this only if you eat.
Thanks for reading.
love you.

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