Sunday, December 20, 2009

Good Books, Bad Books

On the "good" side of the ledger:

"Open" by Andre Agassi. I am not kidding about this. It is really honest, funny, informative and fun. Even if you don't like tennis.

"Born to Run"  by Christopher McDougall. Fascinating story about the Tarahumara, human evolution, and personal growth and discovery. The guy makes a few bizarre statements about the Tarahumara in the beginning (for a more balanced view of them, I recommend "God's Middle Finger), but the book is really attention grabbing and fun. Even if you don't like to run.

On the "bad" side of the ledger:

"The Art of Political Murder" by Francisco Goldman. He somehow manages to take a sensational case in a divided and violent country and make it mind numbingly boring. The first few chapters (as far as I could make it) are just a laundry list of names and times. I skipped ahead a few times and found more of the same so I quit. An infinitely better book, more or less on the same topic is "Senselessness" by Horacio Castellanos Moya, which I can unreservedly recommend.

"The Inheritance of Rome" by Chris Wickham. I am sorry, but Tyler must have been indulging in some of Oklahoma's finest when he recommended this book. All the guy does is (a) contradict himself at least once per page (so thus they were very Roman, but yet they were not Roman) and (b) come up with new names for the Goths. People I have plowed through multiple volumes of Braudel with pleasure, but I couldn't get past page 100 of this.
"Inherent Vice" by Thomas Pinchon. Lord, how the mighty have fallen. It's not funny, it's not weird, it's not readable. If you want to read a "hard boiled" novel by a slumming serious author try "Nobody Move" by Denis Johnson instead.


noahpoah said...

Couldn't agree more about Nobody Move and Inherent Vice.

And wouldn't it be nice if David Foster Wallace had lived to read Open? I would love to hear what he would have said about it.

Angus said...

DFW and Andre both seem to share a low opinion of Michael Chang!

I very much wish DFW was alive and writing. He was great!