Thursday, April 29, 2004


I've had that post title for about 3 days, and no content to go underneath. I could tell you about the blossoming protest/tourist season here in the city. How seamlessly it bleeds into the sweltering armpit of intern season. But, I'm just so over it all. DC has ceased to amuse me, and even the succession of cab drivers chastising me for not being married—usually a topic of great amusement to me—has left me yawning.

So to distract myself from slipping back into babble about Tbilisi that you don't want to read, we're going to have book report hour. So gather 'round kiddies. Here's the roundup of my book-reading of late:

The Russian Debutante's Handbook
Kindly gifted to me by one Kriston for my recent travels, this is a divine travel book. Unlike certain people (see aforementioned) who consider Gravity's Rainbow to be a fab beach read, I—like most people—want a book I can dip in and out of quickly, one that will hold my attention without hurting my brain. But no potboiler Grisham shite, it has to be written with skill, and this fellow certainly has that in heaps. The cover says he's as attuned to the exhilirating possibilities of language as Martin Amis, which I think is a stretch, but he's got a good start. The central character is a brilliant comic creation, a la Confederacy of Dunces. Your affection for this guy is more than enough to carry you through the more disappointing final third of the book. It's a breezy read, but you can tell that that it was written carefully, the words chosen slowly. I remember one phrase in particular, when the self-termed beta-immigrant Vladimir Girshkin observes of his Midwestern girlfriend, wrapped in her robe: How are American girls always so extraterrestrially clean? The obvious word would have been preternaturally, I think, and you wouldn't have noticed it. But with a little twist, it's a strikingly funny sentence. To me.

The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays
So I just discovered Camus. Like just now. Never read a thing of his before. And yes, I know you all did your dissertations on The Stranger in 4th grade, but try to get over yourselves for a minute. I've only just dipped my toe into this, but I'm hooked. Isn't he lovely? To my surprise, I find in his nihilism some of the most optimistic and convincingly life-affirming sentiments I can remember reading. Listen to me. I'm going to have to regress about 3 years, backpack to Prague or Budapest and sit in a cafe ranting about Camus.


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