I know the site’s been flaky today. The server is fine but WordPress is hanging up and I’ve had to have hosting company restart it twice.
I’ll be on Mike & Mike in the Morning on Wednesday at 7:40 am EST, after which, I’m going on vacation for a week, so this will probably be the last post here till Veterans’ Day. And – in case that wasn’t clear enough – there will be no Klawchat this week.
So, Tree of Smoke … 614 pages, read the whole damn thing, still have no idea what the point was, why I care about any of the characters or who the main character even was, what any of the threads had to do with each other, and why author Denis Johnson’s prose was so disjointed, mixing florid descriptions with poorly used profanity. (In fact, given that most of the novel is set in Vietnam during the war, I actually expected more profanity.) There’s no plot. Stories don’t start and end; we get the middle, sort of, and then somebody dies, and it’s over. The novel is full of allusions to the Bible, and a few references to other religions, but none of them made any sense to me on their own or in clarifying the point of the book. I thought I caught a few continuity issues in some of the subplots, but it’s possible that I was too bored to remember what was going on.
I could probably do a better job of taking this novel apart, but by the time I finished last night I wanted nothing more to do with it, and besides, this review from the Atlantic does a much, much better job than I could have hoped to do, even if I’d started the book with the intention of verbally lighting it on fire.
Anyway, I actually just finished the audiobook version of SuperFreakonomics, which was fantastic, but that review will have to wait till after the vacation. I will say that the brouhaha over the global warming chapter seems misplaced, and I’m guessing the critics haven’t read the entire chapter.
The reading list for the vacation – I probably won’t read all of these, but I have a minor phobia of running out of books – includes The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Remains of the Day, The Case of the Missing Books, Cold Comfort Farm, and And a Bottle of Rum.